Category Archives: Professional Growth & Leadership

Digital Skills and Literacies

How can we meet the needs of students in the 21st century? How can we use technologies to align with curricula in order for our students to be digital fluent – to communicate, collaborate, connect and critically think?

Saskatchewan’s educational system will foster the comprehensive and systematic development of knowledge, skills, dispositions, and judgements essential for DIGITAL FLUENCY in educators and students.

– Technology in Education Framework

Saskatoon Public Schools’ Vision for Technology Use

Students will use technologies in transformational and inquiry-based learning environments with teachers who use a variety of technologies to create the conditions for deep learning. We attend to the educational use of technology through the lens of Saskatoon Public Schools’ vision, our learning priorities and the Continuous Improvement Framework.


Digital Backpack

To assist in the attainment of the outlined vision, Saskatoon Public Schools has created a digital backpack of literacies students require to be adept, appropriate and critical in their uses and understanding of technology. Each document in the digital backpack outlines the detailed hardware, software, and instructional support materials to provide for project-based learning experiences in various formal and informal environments.

Technologies to enhance digital literacies emerge and evolve, including apps for iOS and Android devices. The Saskatoon Public Schools’ Elementary LibGuide details technologies which could be used in addition to the supports outlined in the digital backpack.

Digital Fluency

Digital Fluency – Collaboration
Digital Fluency – Creativity
Digital Fluency – Global Digital Citizen
Digital Fluency – Media Fluency
Digital Fluency – Solution Fluency


Throughout the session, we looked at different ways to determine to gather and provide feedback in order to check for understanding, respond to questions, and to determine next instructional steps. As educators, we should gather formative assessments frequently, and while or after a new idea, concept, or process is introduced.

It is imperative to look and to listen. Observing the actions, behaviours, and words of students provides valuable data and serves as a formative assessment (Edutopia). Technology can also assist with the provision of formative assessment data. The following technologies were used to monitor and gauge the session’s progress:

The participants were asked to respond to the question as a blog comment:

How will you develop digital fluent students?



Formative assessment ensures students are learning successfully, as we constantly review data regarding students’ learning performance and our implementation and modification of instructional strategies to improve student achievement.

What does good assessment practices look like? Cale Birk argues that schools need to be places where students are inspired to try instead of where students spend their time cowering in fear of failure. Bill Ferriter claims that we need to create buildings that take a mastery — instead of performance — orientation to learning outcomes. Mindshift also tackles this issue by stating the difference between mastery and performance orientiations to learning, is the difference between the kind of learning that students experience in summer camps and the kind of learning in today’s high-stakes classrooms. According to Mindshift, in summer camps, students learn for the sake of learning.  Every day is an opportunity to explore, to think, and to experiment without  worrying if you are correct or will experience failure. 

In the words of Rick Stiggins, hitting targets is not half as important
as being willing to continue shooting in mastery-driven learning environments.

Dean Shareski has uploaded several videos about assessment to help teachers develop a positive learning culture.

  • Assessment Success Stories – Dean interviews people who detail effective assessment experiences in their professional lives.
  • Student Involved Assessment – This 2004 video is still relevant as educators delve into providing effective formative assessment. The video features various students and teachers talking about assessment for learning.
  • Rethinking Assessment  – Jill Tressel looks at ways teachers are using student involvement and assessment for learning as a new approach to helping students.

Five-Minute Film Festival: TED Talks for Teachers

This week’s announcement of a new initiative called TED-Ed caused a flurry of excitement about the new videos TED is creating to spread powerful lessons beyond the classroom walls. It is not just a new home for education-related TED videos; it is a call to action — anyone can nominate an outstanding teacher or suggest a fantastic lesson, and the TED team will work with the educators chosen to record and then animate those lessons. View the first few of these gems on the TED-Ed YouTube Channel.

Though it can sometimes feel challenging to find twenty minutes to sit still in our multi-tasking lives, the Edtopia’s list of videos are worth it.

Instructional Practices

 In this spoof, panelists discuss a new report that found only 84% of education funding goes to teaching children about whales. Are Our Childen Learning Enough About Whale Video?, a parody of instructional practices, begs a reflection of our teaching and learning methods. Where do we place instructional focus and does our agenda keep student learning at the forefront?

In The Know: Are Our Children Learning Enough About Whales?

Making Connections in the Most Unlikliest of Places

I haven’t always seen myself as an accomplished learner.  In fact, I went through most of my elementary and secondary experiences with a sense of incompetence. I watched, somewhat helplessly, as my learning was unraveling all around me. I struggled with my vision of academic excellence and much of my time was spent trying to reinvent myself to fit a mold of traditional teaching and learning that left me hollow and standing alone.

This evening I came across a quote from Will Richardson’s new professional learning resource “Learning on the Blog” and it resonated with me to my very core.

“In many ways, our connections define us as learners, especially today when we can make so many connections online.  And we are not just connecting to people; we connect to content and organizations and ideas.  No one dictates what connections we should make or what networks we should join.  We are driven to those complex choices by our own passion to learn.  However we get there, we are active participants in the process, and the process itself is shared to deepen the learning.  How are you connecting?  How are you adding value in the context of those connections?”

It seems like such a simple idea… Learning is about making connections in a world that is becoming more and more connected.   I have come to know that deep, authentic learning is made possible through connections.  Connections continue to be a powerful model that supports, enhances, and continues to allow me to engage in my learning.  In this vein of thinking, I  have come to some important realizations that even I was surprised to find myself making.

In my role as an Educational Consultant I have spend a considerable amount of time making sense of supporting teachers, and subsequently student learners, in the intricate details of Mathematics. Sadly, a subject area that still continues to elude many of our learners, young and old.  In our work we have relied substantially on The Strands of Mathematical Proficiency, from the professional resource Adding It Up: Helping Children Learn Mathematics, as we come to better understand what it means for our learners to be mathematically literate. My connections are far reaching as I make sense of this complex process of understanding.

In Mathematics, Productive Disposition is the belief in one’s ability and efficacy; view of mathematics as sensible, useful, and worthwhile. This is directly paralleled with how I aspire to include technology in my everyday teaching and learning.  Being open, willing to take risks, transforming my current practice, and engaging my students in learning in ways I have never dared to dream or imagine. 

When I think about Strategic Competence in Mathematics it is being able to formulate problems mathematically and to devise strategies for solving them using concepts and procedures appropriately.   As I envision a learning community connected with technology, I see its authentic incorporation as a necessity.  I need to be tenacious as I learn of not only it’s intricacies but also embrace the complexity. Higher order thinking allows for the fine balance of competence and confidence to be attained in the most meaningful of ways.

Comprehending mathematical concepts, operations and relationships is the foundation of Conceptual Understanding. What does that entail when it comes to the value of integrating technology? It is about engaging and navigating the world wide web in search of taking my teaching and learning to the next level.  The opportunity to connect and collaborate creates the conditions for innovation to be a game changer for learning. 

Procedural Fluency is the skill in carrying out procedures flexibly, accurately, efficiently and appropriately.  My desire to engage in my learning in the most authentic of ways is made possible by web 2.0 tools.  I see how technology can support, enhance, and differentiate the amazing opportunities already taking place in the classroom. Having a solid understanding of technologies has also afforded me a new found passion and zeal in learning. This confidence has captured a creativity I once possessed but I thought was long forgotten.

Lastly, Adaptive Reasoning is a capacity for logical thought, reflection, justification and explanation. The beauty of technology is that I can capture my thinking though this lens and share my synthesis globally. The secret to my success is the power of meaningful connections  On the flip-side, when I encounter an obstacle that in the past seemed so insurmountable, I can connect with a community willing to problem solve along side me.  Our strength comes from a mindset that showcases the power of collaboration.

It occurred to me that in my own learning journey I have had the privilege of growing my understanding by connecting my learning, which has afforded me the added value of strengthening that knowledge through collaboration with generous colleagues. It has taken me many years to feel confident in my gifts and talents as a learner, no matter what the subject might be. It is through this gift that  I share my learning with you.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts.