A #BIT14 Twitter Chat

A number of Ontario (and other places … first two participants were from Australia and Singapore) educators came together for the first of a number of Twitter Chats leading into the 2014 Bring IT, Together Conference.  The conference will be held in Niagara Falls, ON on November 5-7.  There are still a few days for people to submit session proposals for the conference so the hopes were that the content of the chat might lend some inspiration for those experiencing writer’s block getting their proposals ready.  The topic?

“Your biggest challenge integrating technology into the classroom/school”.

A Storify of the chat transcript is located here.


A big thanks to those who joined in.  Look for another chat in the near future designed to get people thinking and meeting about computer and technology before the actual conference.

Introducing Ron Canuel

Your Bring IT, Together 2 Conference Committee continues to steam ahead with plans for the annual conference, November 5-7 2014, in Niagara Falls.  Follow the hashtag #BIT14 on Twitter to be part of the conversation (and, please, jump in!)  The conference website is located at:  http://www.bringittogether.ca.

Today, I’m pleased to announce the third keynote speaker for the conference.  In addition to Richard Byrne and George Couros, Ron Canuel, President and Chief Executive Office of the Canadian Education Association will address the group.


Ron Canuel has been President and CEO of the Canadian Education Association since 2010, and has over 36 years of experience in the public education sector. As the former Director General of the Eastern Townships School Board in Quebec, Ron was the principal architect of one of the first Canadian district-wide wireless laptop computer program for students and teachers, and has received numerous awards in recognition of this ongoing initiative. He has been a frequent presenter, panelist, and lecturer at national and international conferences on CEA’s What did you do in school today? and Teaching the Way We Aspire to Teach research and action initiatives, as well as on change management, innovation in education, leadership, and technology in the classroom.

A Brainstorming Tool

A few years ago, I did an evaluation of mind mapping/brain storming tools.  There weren’t too many products on the market at the time.  If you’ve been a computer user for a while, I’m sure that you could even name them.  We actually had a committee chosen to do the task – there were some members who were language arts teachers and had been using graphic organizers for years and then a couple of computery types like me who knew the value of mind mapping because we had used these.


Photo Credit: Marcin Wichary via Compfight cc

We had a great deal of fun evaluating the products although it was a challenge at times.  Essentially, they all did the same thing, the same way.  But, we did finally get one that we liked and went forward with it.

Now, that was a few years ago.

Fast forward to today.

If you head into your favourite app store, you’ll see that there are all kinds of products available to download.  Some are standalone applications and others run inside your browser.  Attempts to distinguish one from the other have been made largely in the graphic design of the product and the documents that they create.  But if you, as a friend of mine once said, peel back the skin of the onion, they all pretty much work the same way.  Essentially, not much has changed over the years.

Recently, there were a number of references to a new product that filled my reading.  The product was called Stormboard and it claimed to be different.  That was enough to get me to take an in depth look at.  I like what I see.

The thinking and design was a little different from what I’d used in the past.  I was encumbered by a knowledge of flowcharting templates where one box leads to another and there are lines connecting items.  Instead, I had to start thinking of how communication central works around here.  Walk into our kitchen and there will be sticky notes everywhere.  My wife is the queen of the sticky note.  Look around and there are reminders, instructions, orders, phone numbers, etc. everywhere.

Stormboard works like that…and more.


To kick the tires, I thought that I’d pull together some of the planning for the BringITTogether conference, November 5-7.

From the top left corner, I have a choice of things to drag out to the work area.  They all look like sticky notes so I was right at home!  Each note could be just a sticky or I could include an image, a video, document, or sketch my own.  As you drag them around the board, it’s hypnotic to watch them wiggle.  Each note has properties where you can change the colour or even a feature that I think would be very helpful – you can take sticky from one brainstorm and plop it into another.  Now, why would you want to do that?

Stormboards are multi-user.  The free version allows you to have up to five collaborators on any document.  So, a teacher, for example could divide a class into a number of small groups and then drop instructions into each of the groups without too much effort.  In face, the multi-user features really separate Stormboard from what I’ve been currently using.  Yes, you can have multiple users but there’s more.  Add the users and put your ideas on the board.  Users can then vote in favour or against a concept.  Each sticky also allows for team members to comment rather than change the original sticky.  Who’s doing the work?  Check out the activity button on the top right for a history of activity.  And, of course, what would a multi-user document creator be without a chat feature.  Think beyond the traditional classroom – think online learning or students collaborating on a project from home.  Chat and monitoring activity keeps everyone up to date.

Not every Stormboard needs to start as a blank canvas.

A group of starter templates come with the product.




So, there’s no need to start from scratch!

When you’re done…a nice feature is the ability to repurpose or summarize your efforts.


Check out the different ways to use your or your group’s efforts.

This certainly takes the concept of a report or summary to the next level.

If you’re looking for a web based brain storming solution, make sure that you give this one a long look.  It may just change your whole mindset about how brainstorming works.

A Chance to Articulate

As I noted yesterday, I think that it’s important that you have the chance to articulate just what it is that you’re doing with technology.  If you can’t explain why and how, it’s difficult to justify the time and cost devoted to the project.  In the post, I really liked the fact that Jenny Luca took the time to explain to the parents of her school community just what it is that her school is doing and why.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t take the opportunity as co-chair for the Bring IT Together Conference to invite you to articulate just what you’re doing via a presentation at this great Ontario conference in November.

From your choice of 45 minute, half-day, or full-day sessions, you’ll have an audience of colleagues where you can share just what it is that you’re doing in your classroom.  Whether it’s a new piece of software, a new pedagogy, a tried and true project, …, the conference is filled with other educators looking for the best ideas to use in their classroom.

What’s unique about a conference articulation is that folks aren’t just chomping at the bit to get it over with and go home!  At a conference, people are there to learn and share.  It’s the social aspect that really enhances the learning.

In the move to Niagara Falls, the conference committee decided that there needed to be more than just a change in location.  A very serious effort was made to facilitate the social.  That’s why you’ll find the Learning Space where you can create your own edcamp like experience, the comfy chairs in the hallways, the photowalk, the socials, and just the location.  The place just lends itself so nicely for conversations.

Whether it’s people wanting to challenge your premise, wanting more information about it, or looking for partnerships between classrooms, this is a great place to start.

Why not consider articulating the great things that are happening in your class and school?

The Call for Proposals is currently open.  Click here to submit a proposal.

A more detailed post by yours truly appeared here.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Can You Articulate?

Jenny Luca lives half a world away from me.  Or, I live half a world away from Jenny Luca.

Consequently, it’s kind of rare that her comments show up in my timeline (even when I look at my “Over There” list) but they’re a joy to behold when they do.  I happened to run into one this morning that reminded me of how well thought through her work with students is.  Part of the discussion appears below.

When you think of so many initiatives in education, it really is difficult to stay on top of them.  However, those that you plan to incorporate long term are special.  In particular, you should be able to articulate exactly what you’re doing and why.

It struck me as particularly noteworthy that she conducted workshops for parents to show and demonstrate exactly what was happening in her school with a Google Apps for Education implementation.

It seems to me that there are various levels that these discussions could take place.

  • with yourself  (and you’re probably easy to convince);
  • with colleagues (might be more difficult if it requires adding to an already bulging workload);
  • with principal (what will this cost?  what image does it have for the school?  will the board approve this?);
  • with parents (you want my kids to do what?)

With this simply hierarchy, you can see where the most difficult conversations would probably lie.

Are you prepared to lead a workshop for YOUR parents to confidently explain what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and where you’re going with it?

If not, should you even be doing it?

Enhanced by Zemanta

Call for Presenters–#BIT14

ECOO members received an email yesterday announcing the Call for Presenters for the 2014 Bring IT, Together.  In case your announcement got caught in a spam filter, you missed it, or you’re not an ECOO member, the message appears below.


I had previously announced that the calls were open in a blog post “Get Your Keyboard Out #BIT14”.

Already announced are keynote speakers Richard Byrne from “Free Technology 4 Teachers” and George Couros, “The Principal of Change”.  Look for more details as they get confirmed.

A direct link to the “Call for Proposals” can be found here.

Please consider submitting a proposal if you’re doing something with technology that really works well in your classroom and/or there’s a topic that you’re passionate about.  It would be great to have you on the program.

This is the only conference for Ontario Educators by Ontario Educators in the province.  Plan now to be in Niagara Falls, ON for November 5, 6, 7, 2014.

Get Your Keyboard Out #BIT14

Yesterday, the Call for Presenters for the BringITTogether conference went live.  The conference, a partnership of the Educational Computing Organization of Ontario (ECOO) and the Ontario Association of School Business Officials – ICT (OASBO-ICT), will take place November 5-7, 2014 in Niagara Falls, Ontario.  It brings together both the educational and administrative portions of computer technology in the K-12 classroom.

Already announced are two keynote speakers, Richard Byrne and George Couros.  Now, Richard and George probably don’t read this blog so I’ll let you know that the real rockstars of the show are Ontario educators and those in education who share what’s happening in their classrooms or sphere of influence.  That’s you!

If you presented last year or wish you did, plan now to join us in November.

Where do I get ideas for a presentation?

  • Consider the great things that you do in your classroom daily.  Shouldn’t that be shared?
  • Join and discuss topics in the Facebook Group
  • Take a look for ideas on the Facebook Page
  • Look at the topics offered last year.  If you couldn’t attend a session, email the presenter(s) to do a repeat
  • Your school is piloting a technology or methodology – share it and be open to discussion.

You’ll find the form to submit a proposal here.

Click the button for your favoured language and begin.



There are actually a number of formats from the single session (50 minutes, Thursday/Friday) to full-on workshops (all day on Wednesday)

The conference is fueled by the great efforts that are happening in classrooms like yours.  Why not take the time to share your successes?

Enhanced by Zemanta

Introducing George Couros

Yesterday, I started sharing details from your BringITTogether Conference Committee.  This morning, I’m pleased to let you know that George Couros has also accepted our invitation to keynote at the November 5-7 Conference in Niagara Falls.

It’s not the first presentation that George has made at an ECOO Conference.  I recall sitting in the audience a couple of years ago when Shannon Smith (in person) and George (on conference phone) led a session on leadership in schools.  We’re pleased that George will join us in person this fall.

As I indicated yesterday, follow the hashtag #BIT14 and Twitter user @BIT2014 to get the latest news and to engage in the conversations.   I should also indicate that the conference website:  http://www.bringittogether.ca has been made over and details will be posted there as they happen.



George Couros is the Division Principal of Innovative Teaching and Learning for Parkland School Division and an Innovative Leadership Consultant. He has worked with all levels of school from K-12 as a teacher, technology facilitator, and school based administrator. He is a sought after speaker on the topic of innovative student learning and engagement and has worked with schools/organizations all over the world. George is also the creator of Connected Principals, the founder of Connected Canada, as well as the School Admin Virtual Mentor Program (#SAVMP). His focus is to help organizations create optimal learning environments for innovation within schools.

Although George is a leader in the area of innovation, his focus is always the development of leadership and people and what is best for kids. He uses humour as a way to connecting with all of those that he works with. His presentations are known to be both informative and entertaining, yet creating an emotional connection that helps people move to the next level. His mix of research, personal stories, and practical ways to implement new learning help participants feel comfortable in taking risks in their own learning. You can learn more about George at his site georgecouros.ca.


  • Blog – georgecouros.ca

  • Twitter – twitter.com/gcouros

  • AboutMe – about.me/gcouros

Plan now to meet George and join other Ontario Educators in Niagara Falls this November.

Introducing Richard Byrne

Almost as soon at BringITTogether 2013 was over, contracts were signed, a planning committee struck, and work begun on BringITTogether 2014.  The official hashtag will be #BIT14 and the official Twitter account is @bit2014.  Please start following now!  The conference will be held November 5-7, 2014 at the Scotiabank Convention Centre in Niagara Falls.  Last year’s conference was incredibly received with a huge turnout and plans are under way to make this year’s event bigger, better, and even more social.  Plan now to join us.

You can look for a Call for Presenters shortly; I’ll announce it on here on my blog and it will be announced on the BringITTogether website as well.

To date, your Conference Committee has engaged two speakers to keynote the conference.  Today, I’d like to introduce you to Thursday morning keynote, Richard Byrne.  I’ve known Richard for a few years, typically catching up at ISTE Conferences.  We attended a baseball game in Baltimore and were part of a Professional Learning team that presented at the Teacher2Teacher Conference in Bow Island.

If you do any sort of research for educational resources, you will have run across Richard’s efforts.




Richard Byrne is a former high school social studies teacher best known for developing the award-winning blog Free Technology for Teachers. He has been invited to speak at events all over North America, Europe, Australia, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East. Richard’s work is focused on sharing free web-based resources that educators can use to enhance their students’ learning experiences.

Richard is a five time winner of the Edublogs Award for Best Resource Sharing Blog. Richard became a Google Certified Teacher in 2009. 2012 saw Richard receive a Merlot Classics award from chancellor’s office of California State University. In 2010 he was a finalist for ACTEM’s (Association of Computer Teachers and Educators in Maine) educator of the year award. Tech & Learning Magazine named Richard one of their “people to watch” in their 100@30 30th Anniversary celebration (http://techlearning.com/article/26660).

On a daily basis Richard’s blog Free Technology for Teachers reaches a subscriber base of more than 60,000 educators. In addition to writing Free Technology for Teachers, Richard also maintains iPadApps4School.com, Android4Schools.com, and PracticalEdTech.com. Richard’s print work includes a monthly column for School Library Journal, contributing author to What School Leaders Need to Know About Digital Technologies and Social Media, and contributions to Teacher Librarian. Richard lives in Woodstock, Maine with his loyal dogs Max and Morrison.

Plan now to meet Richard and join other Ontario Educators in Niagara Falls this November.


At the Western Regional Computer Advisory Committee’s Symposium 2013 this past week, ECOO President Mark Carbone announced the dates for the Educational Computing Organization of Ontario’s 2014 Conference.

It will be held Wednesday – Friday, November 5-7, 2014.

Once again, the conference will be held at the beautiful Niagara Falls’ Scotiabank Convention Centre.

And, once again, Cyndie Jacobs and I have agreed to co-chair the event.  Ontario, this is your K-12 professional teaching/computing conference.

The 2013 Conference featured a great deal of new things.

  • partnership with OASBO ICT;
  • partnership with eLearningOntario;
  • new location;
  • expanded Exhibition Hall;
  • special social events
    • Niagara Falls Photowalk;
    • Niagara Parkway Fun Run;
    • Jam Session;
    • Minecraft LAN Party;
    • two receptions.

as well as incredible presentations and workshops led by some of the best Ontario technology using educators.


  • Mark the date now for your own personal professional learning;
  • Start thinking about what presentation or workshop you could provide colleagues;
  • Spread the news among your colleagues at work;
  • Let your principal know that you’ll need her/his support to get to Niagara Falls;
  • Get excited thinking about the new people you’ll meet and add to your learning network.

It’s still early but it never hurts to start the planning!  Details will be release on the ECOO website http://www.ecoo.org in the new year, including how to submit your presentation proposals.

Since it’s also early, add your thoughts in the comments below for ways to improve the conference and your learning experience.

Powered by Qumana