Integration of Technology

Kids and Online Behaviour

The Difference Between ‘Careful’ and ‘Responsible’

This article originally appears in the September 2015 @OECTA Magazine –

By Anthony Carabache – Sept. 15, 2015


My son Julius is seven years old – the eldest of four children. The morning he told me he wanted his own YouTube channel, I leaned on my kitchen counter, looked at my wife and said, “Already? Really?”
If you know who I am and what I do, I invite you to relish in the irony… it’s actually okay with me. I told him his mother and I would discuss and then lay out a plan to get his channel going. The next half hour was spent contemplating how to avoid this inevitability.

When I finally came to my senses, I went to work digging through my presentations looking for something – anything – to fix the situation. From laptop to Dropbox to Drive, I just knew that somewhere in the Cloud I had a presentation or a talk or a handout that would make this all better. But I was frustrated and worried. How could I, a designer, author and implementation strategist for technology integration in education be stymied by my seven-year-old’s desire to start a YouTube channel?

The 21st Century Learner

A few moments later, my two-year old tried to climb up onto the kitchen table to reach my iPad. When my wife gently told him to “Be careful,” it hit me! I ran back to one of my machines and pulled up a graphic that had been driving a good chunk of my talks about the 21st Century learner during the past year. I had overlooked it while I was thinking “defense.”

The graphic I uncovered has a simple, yet profound message. It is the promise I make to teachers and parents across Ontario and via Twitter to the world: We should change the word “careful” to “responsible” whenever discussing our online behaviour. The beauty of this simple change switches us, as a collective, from defense to offense.

Being careful entails waiting for something to happen, and then to treading softly as we negotiate that something. Being responsible requires us to act by a standard we created ahead of time. One is passive (waiting for something to happen) and one is proactive (anticipating what’s to come).

Empowering Students

As a teacher, when you change the dialogue in your classroom from careful conversations to responsible ones, you empower your students to take control of potentially harmful situations. When you ask a child of seven to seek out videos on YouTube about Minecraft that only have positive language, you open yourself up to the question: “What is bad language?” Well of course
you have to answer that question, but when you answer, you explain how speaking in light of Christ’s teachings is what makes us who we are. You tie that responsibility to the beauty of Christ’s story and draw that connection between our faith and your student’s behaviour. When you do that, you begin shaping a very potent young being.

When next you speak to your students about the dangers of the World Wide Web, try to catch yourself before you utter the word “careful” and instead replace it with the word “responsible.” It is then that you witness what incredible ideas, lessons and conversations will follow.

3 Things That Make Kindergarten Teams ALL 21C

The image below is taken from:

Want ideas and resources?  Visit this teacher’s site! Follow her on twitter: @ElissaIagallo

Yes… I’m aware – this is a top ‘something’ article… and yes, I’m aware that I haven’t been the biggest proponent of ‘top something’ articles… but I can assure you.. I’m not a content farm… so here it goes!

Last week I blogged about how the Ontario Catholic Graduate Expectations provide a solid, attainable recipe for the acquisition of 21st Century skills. This week I’m going to blog about how kindergarten teachers and ECE’s across the country are really the pioneers of implementation of 21st-century practice. Over the past six months I’ve had the honour and the privilege of working with my school board’s Early Years Team and I have learned so much about what it really means to be a 21st Century Teacher! I thank @tulimari @tpucci13 for bringing me along this journey!


3 Key Challenges That Kindergarten Teams Face Implementing FDK (My Perception)

#1: Implementing the notions of play-based learning and student-driven curriculum within the confines of 100 years of tradition. Most of our kindergarten teams face the misconception that play-based learning is a sheep in wolf’s clothing. In reality, there is ample evidence to show that play and gamification develop and reinforce new neurological pathways in the brain and lead to development of self-regulation and problem solving skills. For more information check out the Kindergarten Guide found here and the subsequent sources cited within.


#2: To stray from the curriculum will certainly doom us all. Kindergarten teams have been tasked with bringing children to the curriculum – not the other way ’round. When a child arrives at school with a burning question, it could very well drive the learning of the day. It is then up to the teacher to make connections with the curriculum and provide feedback to guide. Imagine how risky that really is!


#3: Kindergarten teams know all-to-well that there is a low chance of teachers in subsequent grades continuing this approach once they leave the annals of the kindergarten classroom…. for now.


Do not doubt that kindergarten teams have had questions about implementation and they have questioned the ideas behind the full day kindergarten program, play-based learning, and inquiry-based learning. But they have questioned it for the benefit and the growth of their mission to show that this is the right way to approach education.


And so…. the 3 Things That Make Kindergarten Teams ALL 21C


1. Flexibility of Environment:


With FDK being implemented across the province, many of our teams have had to flex their environment to adapt to the new play-based stations and some have had to face rearranging their rooms regularly to find that different configurations serve different purposes. Imagine the mind-set of a teacher who is willing to make those changes for the sake of student learning. Imagine how you would feel if there was an expectation to adapt your learning space regularly to suit student learning. Many of our Kindergarten teams face that challenge everyday and have learned to provide that flexible environment.


2. Student Voice Drives Learning


"Bring the child to the curriculum… not the other way ’round." I am completely amazed at how many of our kindergarten teams are willing to guide learning based on what the children bring to school. Considering this requires teachers to leave the ‘tick-box’ specific curriculum expectations behind, it entails a risk and one worth taking. Children across our great province are arriving at school with questions and curiosities that drive an entire day or even week of learning. Such learning not only meets expectations, it exceeds and crosses curricula in ways you could never imagine. This is also when visual documentation of learning and the process of learning becomes paramount! These opportunities become ample and provide growth opportunities for teachers themselves. The children become the ‘living curriculum’.


3. Relinquishing Control:


Above all else, the sense that there will be chaos without regimented control must be put to rest. For there to be true organic learning Kindergarten teams have come to understand that in many cases, the plan enters when the first child enters the room. Or, the plan is altered as soon as an inquisitive question arises from the floor or the group exercise. By far fear of losing control dominates many teachers’ minds, but really, once we embrace chaos – or what we perceive to be chaos – incredible things happen.



DatalyzeMe – Our First Infographic

Slowly Gaining Momentum

The DatalyzeMe App is just about to undergo its first makeover. As a teacher, tinkering with this thing has pretty much taken over my life! Adding major elements of gamification and more opportunities for students to see how they spend their time graphically top the list of modifications this round. In the meantime, here is my first infographic based on the data collected to date:

DatalyzeMe User Infographic

Our next infographic will display just how students are using their time after school…

Why Use an iPad for Pedagogical Documentation

In Ontario education is evolving its approach to teaching to add a much needed focus upon the Student Voice. As the guiding document for School Boards in Ontario, the Student Effectiveness Framework clearly articulates the need to provide opportunity for co-construction and feedback opportunities. Take a peek at the document and you will find that elements of student engagement and assessment are throughout.

Looking at the push for pedagogical documentation, the Ministry has identified Rinaldi’s description below in their monograph found here.

So – how do we effectively note our students’ learning, reflections and tie that into our work and research? Let’s begin answering that question by looking at the use of the iPad within the context of Dr. Ruben Puentedura’s theory known as the SAMR model. 

So – how can the iPad be used throughout this process?

  1. At the Substitution level, using the NOTES app would be at least an entry into documentation. A good start but really a deep need to move away from that as soon as possible.
  2. At the Augmentation level, you can easily see that carrying the iPad and adding multiple notes, saving them and accessing them with ease clearly shows the beginnings of a strong advantage.
  3. At the Modification level, installing an app such EVERNOTE, the observer can now create documentation that exploits the app’s built in capabilities such as mic recording and video integration.
  4. Finally, at the Redefinition level, one page of hypertext notes can link observer voice, teacher voice and student voice via MP3 recording, video evidence can be embedded on that same page along with hyperlinks to research, data and external resources.

Simply put, in the transformational phase of technology implementation, imagine one page that connects ten different resources that can then be exported or shared with experts from around the globe. In this case, a notepad simply fails. 

3 Reasons Why Corporate Pitches to Education Fail

Having sat through a 5 hour long pitch at Microsoft last Friday, I ached to get myself home. Mentally exhausted I had slowly suffered through a morning of missing the mark (this being the 3rd attempt) by a corporation that seemed to be drinking its own punch. I did say hours and yes the morning was tough on the presenter, but it was 30 minutes before noon when the clouds opened and two educators came to speak with us. The first made the same mistake as his corporate counterpart and did not know his audience. The second came in with great credibility and personality. These traits coupled with real educational application of the Microsoft products began to change a very cynical group over to the other side.

1.”Oops! Your Bottom Line is Showing..”

Microsoft – like all other corporations including D2L, Blackboard and Apple continue to make the single most embarrassing mistake when they pitch to education: they simply don’t know their audience. No presenter worth their salt would ever stand in front of audience and share information without knowing where to take the audience.

2. But, But, But I’m a Teacher Too!

Despite corporations’ best efforts they prove that they have no true understanding of curriculum, it’s extensions and the creativity that flows from it. A teaching certification fails to give the account executives even a remote understanding of what teachers need from any software.

I tend to chuckle when I hear the words “Oh but I’m a teacher too..” Yet they have either no experience or have retired! Both situations fail to see education for it what it really is in 2013: an ever changing paradigm that you’d never understand unless you’re in the field present time. So no.. a certification does not buy any credibility when it comes to teaching.

3. I Have All This Money… Now Where is That Mouth of Mine?

Most peculiar is the corporations’ failure to make teacher consultations through contractual commitments a part of their education scheme. Teachers like any other profession can always stand to gain from professional consultations financially and the corporations can gain the insight they so sorely need. The third party training by certified teachers is a model that utterly fails and proves to be an embarrassment over and over again.

Bottom line: if your product improves my students’ quality of education – I will always approve…period.

The 4 Culprits of Weak Online Courses: Why All Online Courses Are Not Created Equal

 The 4 Culprits of Weak Online Courses: Why All Online Courses Are Not Created Equal

There is no shortage of teachers taking online courses and one can easily argue that the teaching profession has adopted the online format for continuing education at a respectable pace.  The online course however is another matter. Laborious content, multiple clicks, poor navigation, broken links and outdated information plague most online content out there.

Now don’t get me wrong, the MOOCs are intensely groomed by their curators and I have nothing but positive reviews for most but when it comes to professional development provided by colleges and universities, I have seen little evidence of an online course format that has evolved with the times.

Culprit #1 – PDF’s and Word Docs

If your online course content is based on PDF’s or Word docs then you’ve already paid too much.  The diversity of the web is lost in such format not because you cannot hyperlink and embed within such formats (which of course you can), but because the course writer’s imagination is still linked to the limits of document files instead of a dynamic engagement with everything the web can offer – from external links, to video conferencing, to embed codes, to interactive objects, to sounds, to engaging discussion boards, to blogs and even simply making the course accessible to the blind/low vision or deaf and hard of hearing.

Culprit #2 – Too Much Navigation!

If your online course requires you to read content then navigate via the top menu to another area of the course to submit work or participate in a discussion, then precious time and mental energy is wasted on navigation. ALL LMS’s are capable of delivering every aspect of a course topic or unit on one simple page – with all links embedded within the content.

Culprit #3 – Gangly Discussions

Whether you want to admit it or not, the elephant in the room is actually sitting on top of 537 unread discussion posts. You know it, I know it and the entire online world knows it – so why do we continue to produce forums where deep thoughts go to die? Fewer discussions that are more thought provoking and allow for meaningful feedback are crucial.

Culprit #4 – Instructor Non-Presence

As a professional learning community we should be well aware that online courses are not correspondence/distance learning courses. Instructor presence is the first differentiating feature for a well run and well written online course. The advent of online meeting software and recording software allow for both instructor presence and flexibility to provide anyone who misses out with some form of contact with the instructor. Online courses worth the money have constant instructor presence throughout with plenty of time built in for flexibility to meet.

Anthony Carabache is a course writer and instructor for the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association. He is a consultant for the OECTA PD Department for all online course material. OECTA PD has embraced the evolution of online courses, their delivery and quality of material to better the online experience for its registrants.


Integrating Techology in Class – Practical Steps

January 25th, 2012

5 Elements of a Successful 21st Century Lesson 

As teachers begin to embrace the integration of technology in their classrooms, strategies for success need to be hilighted to sustain momentum. Take a quick read and ask yourself where you stand in the practice of tech integration.
1. Begin With The End In Mind
In the end, we are asking our students to submit a product. Whether it is a picture, essay, podcast or skit – if we as teachers do not share the big picture, expectations and final marking scheme then it won’t matter what technology you attempt to use.
2. Have a Plan
Even the most seasoned teachers should strongly consider a formal plan for every attempt of integrating technology into the class.  Without a plan and at the first sign of trouble, we often revert to what is comfortable. If there is a plan then at least we may find recourse within it.
3. Accept Failed Attempts and Move On
Even with a detailed, well-thought out plan, some lessons are doomed to fail due to fire drills, school yard fights, in-promptu meetings, tournaments, illness, faulty projector lamp, downed network, sticky keyboard…. you name it! The most important lesson I attempt to impart on my teachers is to accept a botched attempt and move on quickly.  Avoid dwelling on what could have been and look forward to what could be.
4. Set Realistic Goals About Classroom Tech
When surveying teachers I am often blown away by the expectations they set on themselves. Most teachers believe that true integration for technology needs to occur on a daily basis for the better part of the day. The reality for any teacher who wants to begin integration of tech in the classroom should be 2 – 3 times a week at about 30 – 45 minutes each time. Start slow and move on – beginning with unrealistic expectations always leads to certain failure.
5. Direct Your Own Professional Development
Look to enrol in courses offered throughout the summer or evenings to develop your knowledge of technology and technology tools for the classroom.  There are so many new and interesting courses available specifically for educators, there has never been a better time to engage in professional development even from the convenience of your own home.
Anthony A. Carabache


January 7th, 2012

Cutting the Chord

Our family household finally took the plunge and cancelled our cable service. Though mounting frustration with our cable company was enough of a reason, paying $80 per month for 500 channels that held no interest for us helped with the final decision.  The offensive barrage of commercial advertising simply sealed the deal. Bottom line was we were more willing to pay a subscription fee for a seamless commercial-free movie or show than to watch it butchered over an agonizing network-approved timespan.

The first couple of days were admittedly challenging for me but not so much to the rest of my family. I quickly came to some important realizations:

  1. There may be instances where we would need to pay for episodes and movies;
  2. We would definitely be consuming more bandwidth;
  3. We would have to think about what we want to watch.

The first two realizations are obvious but easy to manage once you know where to go to get movies and shows online. It is the last point that really hits you, but before examining the last point I’d like to share some of the strategies we have used as far as hardware and video sourcing without cable.

Our home has a PS3, Apple TV, and a couple of laptops. I use our PS3 to stream Netflix, watch Bluray, DVD and YouTube. If you don’t have a PS3 then Xbox or any other relatively new Bluray players can do all of the same things. The PS3 will also play a large variety of video formats – the most successful of which in my experience has been AVI. I use our Apple TV for shows that we have downloaded from iTunes mostly for our kids, and we have a monthly budget specifically for iTunes.

I had set out to eliminate hardware redundancy but learned that to get the most out of what’s out there, there is no singular set top or streaming video service that can cover all the bases – funny that an old laptop would do everything for you without a problem but where is that damned remote? If you are interested in learning more about set top media players you will find a great article here:

The cable service was costing us close to $1000 per year with very little satisfaction (A rottisserie channel – really?). Even the on-demand viewing was often slow and we were at the mercy of a rowdy PVR that seemed to be in constant and noisy contact with the mother-ship! At a $1000 per year, there was no doubt in my mind that we could keep ourselves entertained and in touch without a worry in the world.

Now, onto this idea of thinking about what we want to watch – truly fascinating! Our televisions would no longer be a source of white noise spewing network trash and poor advertising into our immediate atmosphere.  We could also avoid the plague of 24 hour doom and gloom news channels. As a family we decided to give the television a specific set of purposes: to inform, educate and entertain – all on our terms, not the cable company’s.

Truly on-demand programming would now require us to really think about the quality of programming before we consume bandwidth or pay for an episode. Think about this folks: We are now going to actively participate in the process – essentially choosing exactly what we want when we want it. Simply mind-boggling isn’t it?

Without doubt this is much more cerebral for us as viewers. Turning on the boob tube to put ourselves to sleep ain’t gonna happen anymore – but maybe it should never have been that way to begin with. I can’t quite remember when the television was classified as a sleep assistive device.  The point is, we are taking control of a medium that we never truly had any say in and using it for its orignally intended purpose.

The hubris of the cable company as evidenced in Huffington Post’s article: is more than obvious, but since the cable company also holds much of our country’s Internet bandwidth for ransom, it is almost understandable.

Our next step will be to cut service with my cable company as my ISP and move to a company that provides a healthier helping of bandwidth.

A Flipped Unit Outline

Slope Unit Outline – November 28th and 29th –

Danielle’s first go at a flipped classroom looks like the plan below.  The students will be taking home ‘kits’ to help them prepare for application and consolidation of skills at school the day after. Danielle will introduce the lesson briefly, guide the activity then move around the room to discover which students engaged with the take-home kit the night before.

Below are the first three days.

Date School Work Homework

November 28th

Introduction to the idea of the flipped class and Cartesian Plane Review

Introduction to the Ontario Educational Resource Bank

Online scavenger unt – conducted in the library lab

1. Watch the Cartesian Plane VIdeo

2. Complete the handout (Labeling the Cartesian Plane)

3. ILC Learning Object about the XY plane.www.homeworkhelp.ilc.or

4. Get the Point – start activity.

November 29th    

Consolidating the Cartesian and Introduction to Slope

The Cartesian Plane – Consolidation:

1. Get the Point Activity and self-assessment;

2. Consolidation of XY Plane review and problem solve in groups.  

What is Slope? Take Home Kit

1. View

2. Students may also view:

3. ILC Website – Interactive Tutorials – Slope Calculation Parts 1 and 3 ONLY.

4. Guiding Questions Handout:


How does the first application calculate slope? 

-What does it mean when the rise is positive?  Negative?

What does it mean when the run is positive?  Negative?

What is slope a measure of? When do you think slope is used in the real world?

5. OERB Learning Object: ELO1325840?

6. Challenge:

November 30

Consolidating Slope and calculating rise/run;

Finding Slope;

Introducing Slope formula and simplificationo

Slope – Rise/Run

1. Measuring Slope Activity – Centres, rulers measuring slope around the classroom and school;

2. Consolidation: Discuss steepness, negatives and why they are important; Given an endpoint, find another point using slope;

Practice text questions.

1. Subtracting Integers Video:           

2. OERB Learning Object: ELO1033400

3. Simplifying expressions (My video with accompanying  practice questions)

4. ILC Website àInteractive Tutorials à Slope Calculation parts 1 – 3


Social Evolution

Make no mistake about it – socialization as we know it has already changed. Some say for the better and some say for the worse… so which is it? Youth are engaged more deeply in networking and sharing information than ever before through a medium that they are native to. Texting, blogging, video scrapbooking, tweeting and facebooking are all new ways to interact and though they may seem to be counterproductive – this is simply not the case.

With the rapid development of communication tools, society has yet to establish proper protocol for appropriate social practice using technology. Even though we stay connected like never before, we have neglected the rules of social engagement within the technological medium. Many of these pitfalls can be avoided by establishing and practicing rules and expectations. Facebook and Twitter are certainly the most popular social media networks, but if not used moderately, they can become more of a hindrance than tools for communication. Twitter is an excellent tool which can be likened to a river flowing past.

Trying to catch all of the water as it rushes by is futile – but dipping a cup into the river of information every once in a while, will allow you to partake in smaller, more digestible morsels of information.


As we begin to develop social governance for these new tools and forms of communication, consider the following questions – Please don’t assume that the answers to these questions are obvious:

1. Would you consider it rude to chat on your cell phone while checking out at the grocery store?

2. Is it appropriate to text a friend when you are at home eating dinner?

3. Separation in the same space – what does that mean to you; What is ideal practice to you at home?

4. When is it appropriate to text instead of calling? 5. Why do people text more than talk or vice versa?

Bending to Our Will Part 1

I came out of my meeting with Danielle, grade 9 and 10 math teacher at Blessed Mother Teresa, simply exhausted.  I had promised her a three hour meeting to get her flip in order and she could have easily kept me hopping for six.  What strikes me most about this bright young teacher is her ability and more importantly – willingness to recalibrate, even at the expense of her own comfort.  As we worked through her slope unit, she constantly asked herself, "Why was I teaching it this way to begin with?" over and over.

Taking elements of the text book, a rich resource available to teachers in Ontario known as the Ontario Educational Resource Bank which is full of learning objects, elements from a ministry-driven homework help site, and her own recordings, we began piecing together a plan that looked practical and engaging! The plan looks something like this:

1. Understanding the Cartesian Plane

This will be supported by a self-made video about the basics of the Cartesian plane that students can review at home. Danielle’s video coupled with two learning objects provided in the OERB provide a very effective ‘kit’ for the students to engage with at home. Here is an example below:



The in-class portion will consist of group work deciphering several examples of Cartesian planes that demonstrate understanding of plotting, quadrants, negative integers, labelling etc.

2. Learning Slope – What are Rise and Run?

The second chapter will focus on the simple definition of rise and run as they pertain to the Cartesian plane.  The ‘kit’ that the students will receive will consist of videos chosen by Danielle in conjunction with three learning objects from the OERB and homework help website.

3. Understanding Differences

Danielle mentioned quite explicitly that understanding differences was often a challenge for grade nine students.  Many students struggle with calculating differences of negative integers and even more so – negative fractions. Danielle has endeavoured to create a short five minute video of her own that focuses solely on subtracting negative integers and understanding how to subtract negative fractions.  The in-class portion will be an exercise of redundancy (which we still need by the way!) where students will work together to calculate differences of negative fractions. The goal of the exercises will be to understand that the fraction is not affected by whether the numerator or denominator are negative – the outcome is still the same.

We parted as Danielle turned her focus to developing her first recording using JING by Techsmith.  Look for it on my recommended apps page.

Danielle has quickly learned that she can bend all materials and mediums to her will and I am confident that her students can only benefit!