MOOCs the Future of Teacher Professional Development #MOOC #EdX #Coursera

This summer I tried out a MOOC! After hearing so much about them the last few years and actually missing being a student since I completed my masters and all the AQs I needed. I decided to go with edX ( as I saw the course “Teaching With Technology and Inquiry: An Open Course For Teachers” ( At first I was a little hesitant that it was offered by University of Toronto as my undergrad, B.Ed., M.Ed. and an AQ have all been from there but I knew it was going to be high quality and I could try another institution later.

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The reason I really believe in the idea of MOOCs, is that they are free, open to anyone who wants to learn and not requiring prerequisites. It is not just important for teachers but anyone who wants to learn from a University. It can be for professional growth or just for fun. It is also good because non-teachers who don’t qualify to take such courses at university are able to learn and benefit. Anyone in the EdTech field would benefit from understanding technology and inquiry.

The course was massive at the start, I think they said over 5000 people signed up. The weekly videos that Jim Slotta and Rosemary Evans posted were excellent, explaining the concepts, and best of all I could watch anytime. Rosemary also had her staff do videos in live classrooms, and showcase teachers actually modeling inquiry with technology. This was very beneficial as it gave teachers around the world an idea of how to implement it. The weekly tasks involved a lot of self-reflection, which was actually useful if you watched the videos and participated in the discussion forums. I did learn a lot from other teachers in the discussion forum but with so many people in the course that is one area I got a little lost. There was also a design strand where we got to collaborate on a lesson together. The idea was great but working online with a group of teachers bouncing in and out of groups was a little challenging. We got to critique other lessons and then add to our own. They will be putting a wiki together of the lessons to share.

Overall I really enjoyed the course and learned just as much if not more than a regular University course of AQ Course. You definitely have to be motivated, as I know if I paid $700 I would be sure to be on time but I didn’t have this problem as I stuck to the course deadlines. I ended up paying to be verified which I believe was $40, which goes to support the edX site to keep offering free courses. I highly recommend taking this course! Thank you Jim and Rosemary for a great course!

I am on to MOOC number 2, this time trying Coursera “Emerging Trends & Technologies in the Virtual K-12 Classroom” ( with Melissa Joell Loble, University of California, Irvine. I am excited to get a United States perspective and that of another institution. Stayed tuned for a review on that.

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Looking for another cool Mooc?

Check out: “Electronic Interfaces: Bridging the Physical and Digital Worlds” “Learn by doing: analyze, design, and build electronic interfaces between sensors and a microcontroller to build a robot or your own creation in this hands-on lab course.”

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Hackathons as a New Pedagogy | Edutopia #EdAppHack

Check out my article in Edutopia – Hackathons as a New Pedagogy

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When #HipHopEd meets Augmented Reality with Brainspace Magazine

A few months ago we hosted the Hip Hop STEMposium with some amazing workshops, keynotes, a film screening, a debate and a community town hall.

I met Nicky from Brainspace Magazine over the March Break as part of the ROM’s and MaRS Futurology program.  Her magazine concept is amazing! To combine traditional print magazine with augmented reality using the Blippar app on a smartphone or tablet.  I got to see ducks swim, dinosaurs come to life and professors explain math concepts right on the magazine pages through the app.

When I let her know about the Hip Hop STEMposium she thought it would be great to have an article come to life in her magazine.  The article layout looks amazing and when you use Blippar to scan the magazine, Dr Elliot Gann of Today’s Future Sound comes to life in a video of his beat making workshop!  Check out the article “The School of Rap”.

1) To see the magic come to life download the PDF sample of the magazine here: School of Rap Sample PDF

school of rap

2) Then download the Blippar app to your smartphone or tablet:

3) Scan the magazine pdf with the app and watch!

For more information on Hip Hop Education in Toronto see

If you would like more information on Brainspace Magazine or to subscribe click here: summer 2015 subscribe

brainspace flyer

EdTech Review:’s Planboard

For all my lesson planning I use’s Planboard!

It’s a great way to stay organized and share your plans.

Sign up below:

EdTech Review: Get Kahoot!

Check out this video for a review and tutorial on how to use Kahoot!

Set up:
I use a macbook at the front connected to a projector so students can all see the questions. Students use their phones, ipods, tablets, and laptops to connect over wifi/data to the game.

To set up an account go to:
Have students go to

Collaborative Learning & Formative Assessment through Mirroring with AirServer & Notability

Today we had an amazing session at the DLL Marketplace.  Check out all the amazing sessions here: 

For Google Doc Version of my Doc Click Here: Collaborative Learning & Formative Assessment


Using the AirPlay feature on the iPad/iPod/iPhone you are able to display the screen of the device onto a computer (mirroring).  If it’s a class set or one single device, you can make lessons more interactive by displaying students work on the projector, pass around the device and have the lesson more interactive.

In my class we use a MacBook, two class iPads and students’ own Apple devices, we are able to collaborate together on one screen through multiple devices.  (You can also use a PC) .   With Notability the work automatically syncs to iCloud and backs up as a PDF to our class website.  Students are able to access a copy of the selected notes from home that we took on Notability on the iPad.  The program AirServer is loaded onto my MacBook which allows me not only to mirror what is on the device screen but also record as well.

Evidence of Learning

Students share the iPads and we take up work, collaborate, play games and learn together.  We are able to work together on problems, collaborate on the same issues and get feedback from the teacher and peers.


Video Tutorial

Variations and Extensions

This can be used with a class set of iPads and a variety of Apple devices.  Other grades could use this in a variety of subjects and all grades with set up assistance from the teacher.

You can use the camera on the device as a document camera to share non-digital works.

Students requiring accommodations, mobility needs and visual impairments excel using this technology as they are able to share their work with the class and see the apps better.

You can also achieve this through an Apple TV if you do not have a desktop or laptop.

Considerations and Suggestions

This requires a Mac or PC that is connected to the same WIFI router OR create an ad-hoc network for devices to connect to from the Mac or connect to a PC.

Resources and Links

What I use:

AirServer –
Notability –

Other mirroring programs

Reflector –

Mirroring360 –

Other drawing programs

Evernote –

Penultimate –

Paper –

Check out some tweets below! Thanks Jason, Diana, and TDSB ICT for the pics!

Health Disparities Conference Summary: Columbia University

What an amazing weekend at Columbia University. You can read all the news articles and academic journals but until you take a walk through Harlem, meet with great minds and have rich discussion, you don’t really see the issues at hand.


Dr. Wallace opened up the conference with expressing a need for a population that is multiculturally sensitive and one that does not perpetuate racial/gender/ethnic/socioeconomic disparities in health. She asked us who we ARE, ARE being Acceptance, Respect and Empathy.


We want to move from just respecting someone to accepting. She said we want to embrace another and the nature of their experience and remaining free of judgment. The last phase, which we need to move ourselves and others into is empathy. Do we understand the inner affective experience of others? When listening to this, all I could see was my mom, from when we were younger and her always telling me to be these 3 things and not just telling me but modeling each and everyday. I don’t think I would be half the educator/social justice minded person without her raising me.

Dr Wallace stressed we don’t want to just tolerate people anymore, that is a term in the past. We need to move from tolerance to acceptance to respect to empathy. She mentioned that the most vulnerable people have been left behind. Those affected by health disparities.


Health brings barriers to learning. The same children most likely to drop out, are the ones that are below reading level, high unemployment and high incarceration rates.   It isn’t an achievement gap, it is an opportunity gap! Some people aren’t even given a chance!

Children’s Health Fund has rolled out pilots in NYC to look at health factors that directly affect learning. They focused on moving from just screenings to actually following up by reducing the barriers by providing access to healthcare.

Dr Fullilove shared about the school to prison pipeline about education and mass incarceration. He shared the following shocking facts

  • US is 5% of the worlds population but 25% of the worlds prisoners
  • 7 neighbourhoods in NYC supply majority of inmates in NY state.
  • 2-3 times higher HIV rates in prison than out of prison
  • 60% of prisoners are racialized
  • 1/9 black children have at least one parent locked up
  • In the lifetime the likelihood of imprisonment is as follows
    • 1/9 of all men
    • 1/3 are black
    • 1/17 are white
    • 1/6 Latin

The problems have stemmed from the war on drugs. They cops go after low level drug dealers and after the poor community. By looking at the 4th grade reading level you can predict the chance of them going to prison. Blacks and Hispanics are pushed out of school through suspension, expulsion much higher than whites. 15% of the school population is black but 40% of suspensions.

We don’t have any people to waste. Prison has no return on investment. With 32-40 thousand dollars spent per year on prisoners as compared to 2-3 thousand dollars to supply inmates with a degree. Dr Fullilove shared the Bard Prison Initiative. BPI program with this program they have issued 275 degrees in 5 NY prisons. This is a great idea as current jails and prisons are a for profit business that is not in the industry to rehabilitate. Like Dr Fullilove mentioned, we can’t waste anyone, by giving them education they can lift themselves up and help others.


Dr Chris Emdin’s keynote was phenomenal. The energy and passion that this man has is to the moon and back! I am still feeling the energy from his talk! He talked about PTSD (Post traumatic stress disorder) and how the military has made this diagnosis for soldiers returning back from places of discomfort. But lets flip it around and look at the conditions people are living in on a daily basis. We need to treat students like they are loved, and that we need create a place of comfort. The trauma many youth live in becomes normalized. Emdin was referring to the kids not being able to breathe in the classroom and the fact that sometimes they just can’t. It can be institutions that create the stress. Students have their own cultures and are all forced to come into the same space everyday. If it was PTSD, we would remove them from the stressful situation, but since it is school we legally can’t. Emdin suggested creating 3rd spaces in schools that are a safe space, which includes teaching and learning.

Dr Emdin’s second main point was the power of mass distraction. So many people are living through the media and not actually living and healing their own lives. People are then becoming comfortable in their real life discomfort by living their lives through media. The Cosby show is an example of media where people often lived out their fantasy by watching instead of healing in their own lives. He talked about standardized tests as a similar distractor, being focused on the score rather than the conditions causing the scores. He suggested to talk about bars on the windows, curriculum and conditions that are causing the gap in scores. He also said “Learning is deeply personal, then it can’t be standardized! Then nature of teaching and learning shouldn’t be standardized.”

Lastly, he mentioned science as being a powerful force. This is something I feel the most strongly about. Science allows you to have power. He said don’t let doctors and medical professionals talk about you, have them talk to you. With science knowledge you become part of the conversation. We need to engage young people in science early and in a meaningful way. We don’t want to pass on oppression that has become ritualized through the process of over practice. Emdin said we need to be transformative and engage more people in science.


Emdin reminded us what is HIP HOP








The next session was by Ian Levy, an awesome educator and scholar doing the work in NYC schools. He presented on “Hip Hop Therapy: Using Hip Hop lyricism and performing as a therapeutic medium with urban youth”. He brought his students with him for a live performance. He opened with a live performance of his own in the spirit of Hip Hop! He discussed issues in schools where students are told they can’t act how they really are in schools. Also if they don’t act a certain way and follow certain rules they won’t be successful. Levy mentioned the disconnect between what happens inside the school walls vs outside. He said by stripping young people of their culture, it creates tensions and then lead to health disparities.

He is using the cypher as group counseling mechanism. The work the students presented was insane! They examined recent media and expressed feelings as young youth of colour. The students examined news articles of the recent shooting victims and rapped about them.


Our presentation is below and will consist of a separate blog entry but in the meantime here is our presentation.

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Want to meet Dr Chris Emdin?  He will be in Toronto for the Hip Hop Education STEMposium 

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#EdAppHack Sharing our work for our youth hackathon!

Well its been a busy few months after #EdAppHack and school has been going well.  Since #EdAppHack in October a bunch of amazing organizations have released information about the day.  Our Hackathon playbook has hit Mozilla that we created with MaRS and just last week we were published in the Ontario College of Teacher’s magazine Professionally Speaking.  I just wanted to share some of those things with the world!

Complete list in doc click here

Ontario College of Teacher’s: Professionally Speaking


Orion: Watch Students Innovate at EdAppHack

MaRS: Youth Hackathon Playbook Hits The Web For Free 


Mozilla/MaRS: Youth Hackathon Playbook


Orion: Hacking for Good: #EdAppHack Brings Together Students, Teachers and Programmers – Everyone Learns 


Brandon Zoras: Storify: EdAppHack 


TDSB STEM Showcase: Using VROC and Video Calls for #STEM Learning

Friday was a great day of STEM learning! It goes to show how many awesome, dedicated and willing to share teachers there are in the TDSB. With the hard work of the STEM central team the day was a success! To get a better understanding of STEM we need to define it and how it will work for our board. We can not just use the definition used in the United States but one that works for us. The team centrally has come up with a definition which I really like:

“STEM is a trans-disciplinary approach to inquiry and problem-based learning that fosters collaboration, creativity, and innovation in all students.” – TDSB STEM launch 2014


Antonio, Anne, Stacey and Brandon speaking about VROC

Antonio, Anne, Stacey and Brandon speaking about VROC (from left to right)

I wanted to look at ways to get students thinking of STEM careers. I have been using VROC for the last few years. VROC has been growing and have a huge variety of researchers from STEM careers. You can find traditional scientists in all the fields but also math, architecture, engineering, and technology fields. It is great way for students to hear first hand about careers in STEM, what research is new and how those scientists work together across disciplines.

My folder with resources is here: FOLDER

My one page information sheet is here: One Pager

Prezi for the day: PREZI 

Resources from the presenters can be found here:
Click on the presenters name to gain access to a Google doc with their Google drive folder.

Sign up now for VROC:


TDSB Google Camp 2.0 – my session on STEM and Google Apps for Education

The Teaching and Learning with Technology team put together another AMAZING Google Camp!!!

Keynote by Julie Millan was awesome! It was great hearing from “one of us”. It is nice on occasion to have the celebrity keynote but what is really inspiring is someone in our board who is doing amazing work and someone we can connect with.  Julie’s message was really about how technology has been changing, what learning looks like is changing and that teachers need to embrace that.  She encouraged teachers to #TryOneThing! I found there was way more than one thing to try!

My session links can be found here:

If you missed the camp, you really missed something cool! BUT it isn’t the end of the world.  All the resources are found online and the 80 presenters shared all of their resources!

Click on the names of the session which will open up a presenter profile with all their shared links.

google camp profile

Follow the hashtag #TDSDgafe and #TDSBict for more information and a vast amount of educators to add to your PLN