Help learners build a positive digital footprint #IMMOOC

When it comes to discussing digital citizenship, this is a topic that I am quite passionate about teaching students. So I take my role very serious when it comes to creating an effective digital citizenship curriculum for my school. Through a variety of personal experiences, I understand the importance of having a positive digital footprint. During Monday’s Live YouTube Session with George Couros, Katie MartinJennifer Casa-Todd, there was a big discussion around using social media and helping students build a positive online presence. I found this to be very timely, as I have recently been having conversations with teachers about having more positive conversations with our students, instead of always telling them what they shouldn’t be doing online.

Here is an image I created to encourage our students to use social media as a powerful tool for their learning while creating a positive digital footprint.


Furthermore, the discussion about digital citizenship and social media usage on the #IMMOOC Twitter chat also caught the attention of Paul Davis, a very highly reputable speaker who travels across Canada and the US to educate students, teachers, parents, and law enforcement about being safe and smart online. He has a very powerful message to share with everyone, with presentations that are targeted to different age levels, leaving each audience member empowered after his presentation to make positive changes in how they continue to use technology and social media. If you haven’t had the privilege to have Paul Davis address your school community, I highly recommend contacting him. To learn more about his presentation at my school this past fall, please read my article, Keeping Kids Safe Online.

Thursday morning, I was honored to get a call from Paul Davis to further discuss some comments and questions that were posted on the #IMMOCC feed. We had a passionate discussion around the power of social media and its role in the classroom.

We both agreed that it is great and important that teachers want to introduce students to using social media to help them build their positive digital footprint; however, educators need to understand to successfully and effectively do this, that it involves effort and time. Educators need to invest time to understand how to keep their students safe by guiding them in an established and secure environment and need to invest the effort to properly set up the necessary parameters.

Paul Davis recommends that the best tool to do this with is Twitter. With his professional expertise, he believes it is the safest, easiest and least challenging tool to learn to use. In addition, unlike many other social media sites which state:

“You must be at least 13 years old to use the Service.” Instagram TOS 
“No individual under the age of thirteen (13) may use the Services” Tumblr TOS
“No one under 13 is allowed to create an account or use the Services” Snapchat TOS 

“You will not use Facebook if you are under 13” Facebook TOS

for residents outside of the US, there are no minimum age requirements for the usage of Twitter. And, for residents of the US, “you must be at least 13 years old to use the Services. [Unless] are accepting these Terms and using the Services on behalf of a company, organization, government, or other legal entity…” Twitter TOS. Therefore, making Twitter the ideal social media platform for an educator to use in their classroom, with a classroom account, with students under the age of 13.

Furthermore, Twitter’s platform allows educators to use protected Tweets to connect with other classrooms privately. Currently, with parent permission, our Kindergarten and Grade 1 classrooms are using protected Tweets, to connect globally with other children their age. Our grade 12s are using protected Tweets within the classroom to have discussions around their current topics of study in Social Studies. And one of my next steps in using social media in a positive way with my students in my Design & Innovation course is to create an opportunity that allows my students to connect with subject matter experts on Twitter to help them with their projects. (This is an idea inspired by the book Pure Genius: Building a Culture of Innovation and Taking 20% Time to the Next Level written by Don Wettrick.) 

Slowly introducing students to social media in the classroom, in a controlled environment, allows an educator to help lead by example and educate students on how to post and have conversations online. Beginning this at a young age will better prepare our students for when they are of the legal age. This way, when that time comes, they will be ready to begin building their positive digital footprint, sharing their voice and passions in a powerfully positive way, to create an accurate reflection of who they are, in a digital world.

Paul Davis also recommends encouraging students to create a blog, a similar idea to George Couros, who encourages students to create digital portfolios. A blog/portfolio really helps students share who they are, and allows any future employee, that conducts an online search on the individual, to get a more in-depth overview of them. I think of it as an online resume that accompanies the one- to two-page paper resume.

One last thing to consider, for those teaching in high school, is to help students build their LinkedIn profile before they graduate. According to LinkedIn’s TOSyou must be the “Minimum Age” (which means) (a) 18 years old for the People’s Republic of China, (b) 16 years old for the Netherlands, (c) 14 years old for the United States, Canada, Germany, Spain, Australia and South Korea, and (d) 13 years old for all other countries.”  So once students reach the minimum age, it is a great idea to introduce them to this tool.

In closing, to learn more about integrating social media, digital citizenship, and supporting your students in building their positive digital foot, check out what Jason Shaffer has done in his school, by reading Helping Students Develop Their Online Identity written by George Couros. Please also remember to invest time in creating a safe online environment for your students to learn in, lead by example, monitor your student’s participation, and last but not least, consider using Twitter as the social media platform you use in your classroom.

What questions did you ask at school today?

With years of experience working in an IB school, I became used to starting new units of inquiry by discovering what questions students had about their new topic of study. When I returned to working in a non-IB school, I forgot at what point students need to be used to an environment where they are invited to ask questions, versus being in a learning environment where it is the teacher asking most of the questions. From my early days working at an IB school, I saw how quickly students were so excited to learn because they felt like what they were learning came from their interests and their questions. This so quickly helps change the culture of “why are we learning this, because the curriculum says we have to learn this” to students being excited to learn because they were the ones that asked questions about the topic and want to further their knowledge in that area.

Having experienced this, I am quite passionate about promoting student questioning, to see curious and engaged learners who are eager to learn the “required content”. By simply changing up the way you start a new unit, by exploring what students would like to learn, can completely change the outcome and direction of your unit, while covering all the required material.

I could probably go on writing all day about encouraging student questioning, however being limited to the suggested 200 words, I would like to finish off with the following recommendations:


  • Encourage your students to ask questions, no matter what the question is, keep challenging your students.
  • Model different types of questioning so students can slowly reach higher level questions. 
  • Start a new unit of by asking students what they would like to learn, what questions to do they have about this unit.
  • Learn more about helping students vary the types of questions they ask and visit Sonya Terborg’s blog post on Concept-Question Cards – This is a great resource to guide you in creating opportunities for students to ask questions. To download a PDF set of the cards that Sonya talks about in her blog click here.


  • I challenge you to change the dinner table conversation from “how was school today?” and “what did you learn today?” to “what questions did you ask at school today?”

Let us all be curious together!

-what questions did you ask at school today--


Modeling self-directed learning

For the next few months, I will be reading Cognitive Coaching – Developing Self-Directed Leaders and Learners by Arthur Costa and Robert Garmston, while I participate in the #CogCoachStudy book study and Twitter chat.

In our first week of reading, I discovered the (multiple) meanings of Cognitive Coaching and was asked to reflect and share how I model self-directed learning.

From the very first day that I set foot in my own classroom, I always told others that I saw myself more of a coach to my students than a traditional teacher. I expressed this because I always encouraged my students to be self-directed learners, and I saw my role in the classroom to be the one to provide my learners with the tools they would need to accomplish this. Over time, as I have worked my way up into a leadership position, my “students” are now teachers. However, my teaching philosophy has not changed and I continue to provide teachers with the tools they need to be empowered with a willingness to be life-long learners, like myself. To accomplish this, I model some of the following skills that encompass what it is to be a self-directed learner:

  1. I am resourceful – I am an active participant in social media. I participate in Twitter chats and online book studies, to develop my PLN of like-minded educators and leaders in educational technology. I am not afraid to ask questions and to seek out help and advice. I visit other schools and contact other Directors and individuals in a similar role to learn about their school, their strategic plan, their challenges and successes, and I learn from their experiences.
  2. I am goal orientated – I set professional and departmental goals each academic year and put them up in my office. In addition, I set personal goals at the beginning of a new calendar year. I revise, edit, and update those goals, and I ask my team of teachers to also set their own goals related to educationally technology and innovation.
  3. I am committed to life-long learning – My yearly goals always include learning something new, attending a seminar or workshop, reading books, traveling, etc.
  4. I ask questions – Though not currently a strength of mine, I have begun to ask more questions to myself, to reflect and challenge my own reasoning when making certain decisions. In addition, following the viewing of Start With Why – Simon Sinek TED talk, this past summer I have begun many conversations with my team, with the question why?

As I continue to be a role model in my leadership position, I look forward to developing the foundational skills related to cognitive coaching to encourage my team of educators to not only become self-directed learners but also to grow into cognitive coaches for their teams.

#ETCoaches…My first online book study & slow Twitter chat

In the world of educational technology, things are always changing: blog posts are being posted daily, tweets are being sent out every second, and from time to time, the EdTech world can seem overwhelming with the pressure of staying on top of all these changes and updates.

Thanks to the #ETCoaches slow Twitter chat and book study, I feel that these resources have helped me get my ideas organized and helped me refocus, using Twitter as a tool to stay current with the trends of educational technology and innovation. Participating in this online #ETCoaches book study and slow Twitter chat has forced me to be more structured with the time I spend online, with my reading before bedtime, and with how I organize what I learn in the sessions. This structure has also helped me come up with a Social Media Routine, something that I had been trying to establish for the past few years.

Now that my first book study on “Integrating Technology in the Classroom” by … has wrapped up, I have found another book study to participate in. This one will be discussing “The Innovators Mindset” by George Couros. And once that one is done, I will try and find another one. Why? Because not only are you connecting with educators around the world building your PLN, but it creates accountability in your reading and encourages you to reflect. We all have busy days, but like managing working full time and studying, or building a workout in your day, with proper planning and organization, you can make time and build this into your schedule.

If you have never considered an online book study, or are not currently participating in any online Twitter chats, I highly encourage you to start participating in one. I can’t even begin to explain how all of this participation, learning, and connecting has transformed me into a more knowledgeable and reflective leader in the field of EdTech & innovation. Furthermore, the spark has been lit back up in myself as I feel like I am now “on top” of things again.

Thank you online EdTech & Innovation Twitter world!

My participation in the #ETCoaches arose from the following snowball effect:
Innovators Mindset > Miracle Morning > Goal of becoming more active in Twitter Chats > Discovering and participating in #ETCoaches Slow Twitter Chat > More structured Social Media Schedule > Still to come: Better organization of my ideas and content for teachers with the creation of an online newsletter.


Creating my social media routine to become a networked educator

For years I have struggled with getting a routine down for spending time on Twitter each day. However, thanks to my Miracle Morning Routine, where I start the day off with 10 minutes each morning on Twitter, and with the encouragement to be a role model to the educators around my school, my 10 minutes a day has slowly grown into something bigger, and more organized.

Here is what my social media routine for Twitter now looks like:

🌅  Morning

I start my day off with 10 minutes on Twitter, simply scrolling on Twitter to learn about what others are doing in their classrooms. During this time, I bookmark “read later” articles with Pocket and I save “must share” items for the classroom in Google Keep. I also re-tweet and comment on others posts, and share tweet items to the teachers from my school for us to discuss during out 1:1 meetings.

👩‍💻  Day-time

My daily schedule is never the same; however, I’ve still made it a daily goal to tweet out at least once a day to share how EdTech & Innovation is being integrated into the classroom around my school. To achieve this, I’ve started to carve out more time to visit classrooms and take pictures of students in action with their learning. When taking pictures of students, I always ask them for permission, and if the timing is appropriate, I will ask students what they are doing in order to share authentic words and thoughts from the students. During my 1:1 meetings with the school’s Innovation Reps, I ask teachers to show or share with me any exciting projects they are working on with their students. I take photos and notes during these meetings, and then post images and information once I get back to my office.

🌆  Evening

Thanks to my dedicated 10 minutes in the morning on Twitter, I stumbled upon a Twitter Book Study offered through ISTE that posts a different discussion question to respond to each day. Therefore, in the evenings, I participate in the #ETCoaches discussion, by answering the daily question and responding and interacting with others on this feed.

In addition, I make the effort to visit my TweetDeck, where I have created a feed that follows all the educators in my school who are on Twitter. This allows me to stay current with everything that’s going on at my school.

Thanks to the inspiring message of George Couros,

“What if all teachers tweeted one thing a day that they did in their classroom to a school hashtag, and they took five minutes out of their day to read each other’s tweets? What impact would that have on learning and school culture?”

during the Innovation Rep meeting at the beginning of January, we created a school hashtag #JeSuisCFIS and several teachers decided that they would like to join Twitter and share student learning with the community. To encourage and support them, I re-tweet and respond to their tweets.

Next steps…

Though I am very happy with my progress so far, I would still like to become a little more proactive in certain Twitter chats and follow some more common EdTech & Innovation #hashtags. I feel that by doing this, my morning Twitter time will be more concentrated on
a) being more active in the EdTech & Innovation environment, and b) my learning on Twitter will be more focused, maximizing the amount of ideas and project examples I am able to collect to share with the teachers at my school.


If you have any suggestions of EdTech & Innovation #hashtags to follow, please let me know. I am also curious to know how you stay on top of being a networked educator.

Starting my day off right with The Miracle Morning!

For months, “The Miracle Morning” by Hal Elrod has sat on my bedside table staring up at me. However, as the days passed by, I (embarrassingly) never made the time to read this inspiring and life-changing book, until the days turned cold, and the Christmas holidays arrived.

Once I began reading it, I just couldn’t put it down and sat cuddled up on the couch until I was done.

Following the completion of the book, I joined the Facebook group, I read through all the .pdf’s that were emailed to me, I completed my goals for 2017, and then I planned out my Miracle Morning by looking at how I could incorporate achieving some of my goals into it.

For those that are not familiar with The Miracle Morning, the beauty of it is that it is based on what Hal calls the life S.A.V.E.R.S, creating a foundation to help you build a morning that will help you get focused, stay healthy, and to get you energized for the day.

S. silence
A. affirmations
V. visualization
E. exercise
R. reading
S. scribe

This is what I ended coming up with for my Miracle Morning:

  1. To begin my day with calm thoughts, I will start my day off with 10 minutes of meditation using the Calm app.
  2. Following my meditation, I will read out loud the daily affirmation, provided by the Affirmation app, and save those that speak to me on my affirmations page that I created on Pinterest.
  3. I will visualize achieving my goals as I read through my vision board, that I created with Canva. This vision board is divided into several sections: Health, relationship, financial goals, professional goals, personal goals, travel goals, and friendships.
  4. Once I have done visualizing my goals, I will then spend 10 minutes on Twitter, to be able to stay current with trends in Educational Technology & Innovation. During these 10 minutes, I will re-tweet posts and share specific tweets with staff members who are also on Twitter, as well as save articles to read later onto Pocket and bookmark items I would like to share with educators onto Google Keep.
  5. I will then get my body moving and complete 20-30 minutes of exercise with a combination of strength training, cardio, and other exercises.
  6. I will then finish the last 10 minutes of my miracle morning routine with a cup of coffee, my laptop, and my blog. My goal is to try and write approximately one blog post a week. This has been a goal of mine for many years, and I finally have time carved into the day to work on my blog.


Since reading this book, I have shared it with my sister, talked about my Miracle Morning with my colleagues, and will continue to promote and share the book as a gift with my friends and family.

If you have never heard of The Miracle Morning, I highly encourage you to check it out. It is an easy read, and will certainly change your perspective of the importance of creating an effective morning routine.

The Innovator’s Mindset: My inspiration to begin blogging again!

For months, I had followed and been very intrigued by those writing and tweeting about The Innovator’s Mindset, but just never got around to purchasing the book. It was Cyber Monday that I decided to begin shopping online for some good books to read over the upcoming Christmas Break. The Innovator’s Mindset came up again in my search, and once purchased, I just couldn’t put it down. I couldn’t believe that I didn’t buy this book sooner! Reading this book, I felt that every word on the page were the same thoughts and ideas that I had in my head. I even changed my plans for my last staff meeting before the break, with inspiration and ideas from the author, George Couros.

I was really glad to have begun reading the book before the holidays because I ended up ordering a copy for all the Innovation Reps on my team at school, which arrived just in time, as a Christmas present to my Innovation team. What I absolutely love about the Innovator’s Mindset, is that George Couros is from Alberta. It was encouraging to read about schools in Edmonton being innovative within the same education framework, knowing that we could do the same at my school, here in Calgary. I am really looking forward to my first staff meeting after the break, so I can meet with my team, and learn about what got them excited, while reading The Innovator’s Mindset.

As I began my holidays and finished up reading my copy of the book, George inspired me to create two new goals for 2017: to begin blogging again and to schedule more time in the classroom. “Educators would all benefit if we decided to take our own advice. One way we can do this is through blogs… consider this: every opportunity to share with others on a global scale makes you think more deeply about what it is that you are sharing in the first place…This is why it is so important to spend time in the classrooms, see what teaching and learning looks like, and then help to create a better tomorrow for our students and educators.” By spending more time with the educators and students at my school, I will have more innovative ideas to share and write about.

I’ll also be honest, that this is not the first time that I have started a new year, with the goal to begin blogging again. However, thanks to my new morning routine, inspired by another book I read over the holidays, The Miracle Morning, by Hal Elrod, I have scheduled time each morning to write and work on blogging.

As I return back to work on Monday, I feel more inspired than ever to become a better leader and even more motivated to write and work in collaboration with educators at my school and all over the world, developing the innovators of tomorrow!

Thanks George!