Friday, November 20, 2015

2015 Student First Anti-Bullying Forum

This past week was a very exciting event. It was the third provincial student anti-bullying forum held in Saskatchewan.  The most exciting part for me was the fact that we were able to host the forum completely online and managed to have over 9,000 students participate.

As part of Saskatchewan's Action Plan to Address Bullying and Cyberbullying, the Ministry of Education hosted the third Student First Anti-Bullying Forum on the theme, "Stand Up to Bullying: Activating the Bystander." 
This free online forum was open to students in grades 6 to 12.  It was designed to foster responsible online behaviour and encourage young people to engage in positive, collaborative activities to build safe, caring, inclusive and accepting communities, both in school and online. 

The week-long event featured a live broadcast in English and that included a keynote by Dr. Alec Couros from the University of Regina.  You can watch the full broadcast in English here. We also hosted a live chat later in the week using Twitter and a conference app called LiveCube that added a gamefication component to the event. 
 It was amazing to work with Dr. Couros and Katia Hildebrandt to organize such an engaging and exciting week for Saskatchewan students. 

To help ensure we met the needs of our French students in the province, I was able to offer a similar keynote in French as well as help to support a live chat. It was so great to have the opportunity to present to students again, especially on such an important topic. Here is the video of my presentation to French students on the topic of digital citizenship:

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Learning About Becoming Good Digital Citizens

Over the past 18 months, I have had the opportunity to work with others around the province to put together a new document to support school divisions work with schools and educators to help students build a better understanding of how to participate safely and responsibly in an online world.

Digital Citizenship Education in Saskatchewan Schools was created  in response to the Saskatchewan Action Plan to Address Bullying and Cyberbullying recommendation that the Government of Saskatchewan work with school divisions to provide teacher instructional supports and student resources to teach appropriate and responsible online behaviour to all Kindergarten through Grade 12 students.

The guide, as well as supporting documents and resources, can be downloaded on the I Am Stronger website.  There are versions in both English and French.

The guide offers:
  • a roadmap for developing division wide digital citizenship policies and school-specific digital citizenship guidelines and procedures; 
  • tools and resources to support digital citizenship education; and 
  • a digital citizenship continuum for Kindergarten through Grade 12 students. 

The guide was developed based on the work of Dr. Mike Ribble and his 9 elements of digital citizenship.  A great resource to learn more about this topic is his book, Digital Citizenship in Schools. It has been a favourite of mine since it was first published in 2007 and is now in its 3rd edition.

One of the most popular supports in this document is the Digital Citizenship Continuum from Kindergarten to Grade 12 that was created to support professionals as they infuse these concepts and skills into their teaching.

I encourage you to check out this document and share how you are supporting your students to become more responsible digital citizens. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

IT Summit 2015 Ignite Session

Rules of the presentation: Each speaker gets 15 slides shown for 15 seconds each on an automatic rotation for a total of five minutes of fame to share the newest, latest and greatest technology in this fast paced event.

Presenters: Vicki Davis, Jim Swan, Dean Shareski, Carlene Walter

Ideas shared during the session:

Dean's message: Creativity

  • Bad selfies and silly pictures = creativity come from being silly
  • We live in a remix culture where we play with images to make powerful products
  • Creativity can make us create powerful things such as posting where earthquakes happen on Twitter.
  • Teachers work with scraps that others would throw out and then work with students to create something beautiful
  • "Adults need to have fun so that children will want to grow up."
Carlene's message: Digital Fluency - our students need a toolkit to help them work and play
Jim's Message: 10 year report card on technology 
  • piloting social media
  • teachers are important and they just use the tech to teach
  • why isn't every day Friday?
  • How do we personalize learning?
  • Using tech to re-watch a lesson
  • Students want to direct their own learning
  • The new tech alphabet
  • Learing needs to be = personalized, learner-driven, applied, cost-effective
Vicky's Message: Choose Your Habits Change Your Life
  • 40% don't change habit choose them
  • done manage your time you spend it how ill you spend your habits?
  • most people don't know what their ideal work looks like
  • create launch routines - 30-30 app to help make important things happen routinely
  • miracle morning pavers - start my day right
  • mud puddle principle - can share your habits
  • habit stacking - add a habit that you already have
  • 20 second rule - more likely to do it 
  • keep calms and make your bed
  • every 90 minutes you need to move
  • what you do during your break - take a mental break
  • set alarms - a personal attitude check twice a day
  • exercise - every little bit helps
  • joy journal - you will be happier if you write down every day something you are joyful about
  • signature strength - you will be happier if you use it every day
  • reading/learning habit - read in the field that you want to be the best at
  • get rid of gossip - makes you poor and makes you worse
  • watch less TV
  • you don't accidentally climb Mt. Everest - you choose to

Monday, April 27, 2015

2015 IT Summit Presentation: A Preview of the Saskatchewan Digital Citizenship Guide

Today I had the opportunity to talk about the soon to be released digital citizenship guide for Saskatchewan schools and school divisions during a presentation to the Saskatchewan IT Summit. I'm glad it was so well received. Here is a link to the presentation. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

2015 RCSSD EdCamp Smackdown & App Smash

During today's RCSSD EdCamp, Katia Hildebrant, Kelly Christopherson, and I closed the morning's learning and sharing by presenting an "App Smash Smackdown".  Here's a list of apps we shared:

Joanna's Apps:

IFTTT (IF This Then That):

DIY (for Kids)
  • A safe place for kids to learn and share in a monitored social network that allows for parent and educator access. Earn badges for skills mastered.
  • Platforms: iOS, Web
  • Link to find it: DIY Website
  • Classroom Connections: DIY for Kids - Do Challenges, Earn Skills
ChatterPix and ChatterPix Kids
  • Students can record themselves speaking using pictures of their choice.  Make an inanimate object have a voice or make your pet talk.  Might help reluctant talkers to express themselves through the talking picture.
  • Platforms: iOS
  • Link to find it: ChatterPix Website
  • Classroom Connection: Kids Create Talking Pictures with CatterPix Kids

Katia's Apps:

  • This app allows you to record a short video and then layer interactive widgets over it to integrate live socialmedia streams, photos, maps, and other multimedia.  The person watching the video can interact with the widgets while still remaining in the video.
  • Platforms: iOS, Windows
  • Link to find it: TouchCast Website
  • Ideas to get started: Add Interactive Elements to Videos with Touchcast

  • Make augmented reality work for you. Scan your picture come to life on your device.
  • Platform: iOS, Android
  • Link to find it: Aurasma Website


  • Build online portfolios to showcase student learning and reflection.
  • Platform: iOS, Website
  • Link to find it: FreshGrade Website

Kelly's Apps:


  • Curation and annotation tool for mixing and sharing your work and anything from the web.
  • Platforms: iOS, Android, Web
  • Link to find it: Pearltrees Website
  • Classroom Connections: Kelly's Pearltrees
  • Communicate with others via voice and text anywhere on any device.
  • Platforms: iOS/Android
  • Link to find it: Voxer Website 
Bonus apps:


  • Pre-write your tweets and live tweet during a presentation or event. Great for ensuring links and other information is correct without having to do it on the fly.
  • Platform: iOS
  • Link to find it: Backdraft on iTunes and Purdue's News about Backdraft 

  • Manage and monitor your social media presence across more than 35 popular social networks in one dashboard.
  • Platforms: iOS, Android, Web
  • Link to find it: Hootsuite Website
  • A simple app that allows you to record voice-over whiteboard tutorials and share them online. Can be used by students to demonstrate understanding and can be used by teachers to create flipped lessons.
  • Platforms: iOS
  • Link to find it: ShowMe Website
  • A productivity app that allows you to organize all of your projects in one place. From writing lists and notes, to curating resources, to recording audio to sharing your work on the fly through presentations, Evernote is a multi-platform tool to keep you organized.
  • Platforms: iOS, Android, Window, Mac, Web
  • Link to find it: Evernote website
  • Classroom Connections: 6 Uses for Evernote in the Classroom
  • A photo editing app that works with your Evernote account. This app allows you draw and write on your pictures which can be handy if you are trying to annotate a screenshot and give instructions to students.
  • Platforms: iOS, Mac, Windows
  • Link to find it: Skitch Website
  • Classroom Connections: Protect Student Privacy by Using Skitch

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Edcamp Model Flourishing in Saskatchewan

Image Source:
Over the past few years, the Edcamp model has become a popular way for educators around the world to take control of their own professional development.

The model's vision is simple:
We are all self-directed learners, developing and sharing our expertise with the world.
Essentially, this model empowers professionals to share their expertise with each other.  Unlike structured conferences, edcamps do not have official schedules for sessions.  Participants come, free of charge, and ask questions about what they would like to learn or about problems they would like to solve.  Others offer up their expertise and share in an informal setting where dialogue and sharing creates a rich learning experience for all involved.

Image Source: @mmatp
Although this model lends itself to sharing best practice in educational technology, I find that there is more being shared then just how people are using the newest online tool, app or gadget in their classroom. Typically, even if the session starts out by sharing the best new tool that someone has discovered, the conversation quickly evolves into a discussion about best practice and how students can learn or work in a new way using the tool.  This makes me happy because one of the main messages I try to communicate is that technology is just a tool and we should be focused on the teaching, not the tool.  We wouldn't give a session on "Hey, check out this great pencil and how I use it in my classroom!" so why would we do the same with an app? The purpose behind why we are using the tool to enhance student learning should be the reason for sharing the latest tool or app, not the cool factor of the tool itself.

My first experience with the "unconference" model was when I was attending the Google Teacher Academy (GTA) in Seattle in 2011.  Even though I had spent two days of structured learning from Google and YouTube, my third day of GTA was much more informal and followed the Edcamp model of asking questions, sharing experiences and solving problems in small groups.  This experience really enriched my learning that had taken place while at GTA because I was able to reflect, question and discuss many of the ideas, concepts and tools that I had heard about during the more formal part of the experience.  I hoped to be able to see this informal learning model take place in my home province one day.

A couple of years later, I was thrilled to hear that a group of educators in Regina were organizing an Edcamp in Regina. It was called EdcampYQR.  This learning opportunity was very successful and a group of hard-working volunteers from Regina Public School have since organized a couple more.

What impresses me most about this model is that the Edcamps in Regina typically take place when teachers have other things to do. To participate, they have to give up their own Saturday morning or contracted planning time to attend.  This to me demonstrates the wonderful commitment many educators in our province have to sharing and learning from each other in order to become better at their profession.

This model has caught on in our province and now there are a number of upcoming Edcamps being organized over the coming weeks.  If you have never attended one of these learning opportunities before, I encourage you to try one out.

To date, I have heard of three upcoming Edcamps being organized in the Regina area:
I have also heard that there may be one organized in Saskatoon in April, but I haven't seen any details online to share at this time.  If the readers of this post know of others being organized, please let me know and I would be happy to add them to my list.  Thank you to everyone volunteering their time to organize these wonderful learning experiences.

I am hoping to attend all of the upcoming Edcamps in the province that I can fit into my schedule. Don't be shy, come out to share and learn with your fellow teachers. It may be the best professional development you get all year!