Planning for September?


EQAO is over, report cards are in, and the year is winding down! I’ve been talking with lots of teachers in AMDSB who are already thinking about their plans for next September.

Digital Portfolios

If you are considering digital portfolios for your students in the fall, I would encourage you to request a Class Blog now (unless you already have one), and connect with the Lead Teacher in your school to help you get set up before you leave for the summer! Student blogs are requested through your TRA in the fall once class lists have been finalized. As always, if you have any questions anytime about integrating blogs as digital portfolios, please contact me!


Are you interested in integrating Twitter into your classroom program next year? Why not join our #AMDSBKidsChat to start?  Everything you need to get started can be found here! The summer is the perfect time to set up your class account, and familiarize yourself with the platform. Check out the hashtags #AMDSBLearns and #AMDSBKidsChat to see what teachers and kids have been talking about this year.

Our final chat of the year is scheduled for Monday June 19th from 10-11AM. Join us as we #Reflect on June 19th from 10AM-11AM. #AMDSBKidsChat is a great place for students to connect with their peers, creatively share ideas, improve literacy skills by communicating and collaborating with others, and develop citizenship and character. Follow the hashtag as an observer, or join in! Answer the questions ahead of time, and connect with us to share your ideas and learn with other K-12 students throughout #AMDSBLearns!

Digital Citizenship

Lisa Bruce and I have been writing the Digital Citizenship Guidebook for AMDSB this year. The Guidebook includes information about privacy and safety, social media in the classroom, guidelines for teaching with technology, learning management systems, digital portfolios, copyright and attribution…, as well as a framework for integrating digital citizenship teaching and learning into your classroom program. Our goal is to share this resource with schools beginning in the fall supported by in-school PD. Stay tuned!

Computational Thinking/ Coding/ Robotics

This year I have had the privilege of working with 9 teachers in AMDSB to develop a resource to support the integration of computational thinking skills through coding. Once approved, our goal is to share this resource with schools in the fall supported by PD.

In the meantime, if you are looking for a place to start this summer, our team recommends visiting and working through their free courses (Note: These are the same courses your students would complete). If you register, you can track your progress. There are entry points for all levels of learners and the activities are really engaging. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact me! Watch for more information coming in the fall…

New Technologies available in AMDSB… Coming Soon!

AMDSB has purchased a number of new technologies that will be available on loan through the Media Centre in the fall. Once everything has been catalogued, I will post information on the AMDSB EdTech blog detailing what you are able to borrow for your students!

A few things get excited about for K-12 include: virtual reality, augmented reality, robotics (yes, we even have robots for kids in Kindergarten!), drones, circuits, and more!

As always, please leave a comment below with your questions, comments and ideas! I’d love to hear from you…


If we don’t connect before you leave for summer holidays, have a wonderful (and well-deserved) break!

Leigh Cassell

Carpool Karaoke EDU Edition Challenge

Earlier this year Brian Aspinall started posting his reflections in video format –karaoke style– to share his thinking and inspire conversations about computational thinking and coding in education. More recently he challenged other educators to start sharing their thinking in a similar way… and we accepted that challenge.

Following our #EveryoneCanCode PLC last week, some brave members from our team piled into Kaufman’s new car and hit the road in conversation about how to further the integration of computational thinking skills and strategies into our classroom programs in #AMDSBLearns.

So now we extend the challenge to you and your colleagues to try something new! Whatever you are discussing with your colleagues in that soon to be hot, stuffy, and often curious smelling J/I classroom, could be moved into a cool, breezy, (and maybe curious smelling) car, with an added element of music to inspire a more light-hearted and uplifting conversation about how to move learning forward. Who’s in…???

Questions? Thoughts? Ideas? Leave a comment below!

Teacher Feature & Student Showcase: Robot Rally at MDHS

I had the pleasure of attending a Robotics Challenge hosted by Michelle McDonald and her students at MDHS last week. Kids spent the day coding robots and participating in a series of obstacle course challenges. You could feel the excitement and the buzz in the air as students collaborated to solve problems, applied critical thinking skills and strategies, and persevered to achieve their goals. Here’s what a few competitors had to say…

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I asked Michelle to share her experience…

In the fall, my grade 8 class worked in groups to built and code Lego EV3 robots.  As a culminating activity, the students designed a Robot Olympics.  Each group designed a creative challenge, organized materials, and figured out how they were going to run and score the challenge.  The Robots Olympics were a great success!  The students not only learned how to code a robot, but they also learned how to problem solve their part in running this event.
20170424-144639.jpgAfter the Robotics Olympics, several of my students continued working on coding the robots and attended D&D Automation’s Battle of the Bots.  While at the event, my students thought that they would be able to run a robotics competition for other teams at our school.  When we got back to school, the students went directly to the office to ask if this could happen, and happily, we were encouraged start planning!  We introduced the idea to the rest of the class, and they were excited to get started.  The class worked together to plan which events to include, what to call the event, and how to schedule the event.  We started organizing by thinking about all the jobs that needed to be done to organize this event successfully, and students dove into organizing their part of the event.  These jobs included making challenge boards, creating score charts, calculating how much pizza was needed, designing t-shirts, and making signs and posters.  My class has been working all year to fundraise for the Right to Play PLAY programme, and they decided to sell treats at the Robot Rally, so this became part of the event organization.
On the day of the event, several students arrived at school before 8am to set up the challenges, tables and chairs, and to hang directional posters around the school.  When the teams arrived, they were greeted at the doors my my students and the rest of my class were at their stations and answered any questions.  Two of my students were MCs for the event and the rest of the class judged the challenges, did the scorekeeping and answered questions at the information desk.  Thanks to the planning done before the event, the Robot Rally ran very smoothly!  Robots were following lines, going through a maze, identifying colours, and sumo wresting.  It was exciting to see all the teams in their school jerseys excitedly showing off the results of all the coding they had done at school in preparation for the event.

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At the end of the Robot Rally, when all the teams left, my students returned to the classroom and were very proud of the event that they had coordinated.  I don’t think they realized the magnitude of what they had just done!  They didn’t just organize this event, they worked through all the issues and questions that came up at their stations and were completely engaged all day.  My students even cleaned up and packed up at the end of the day without a lot of direction.  I am very proud of the students in my class for organizing an event that allowed so many students from all over our board the opportunity to work collaboratively on their coding and problem solving skills!

If you are interested in integrating coding into your classroom program, but don’t know where, or how to start, please contact me! #EveryoneCanCode