Revisiting #MIEExpert and #MIEExpertFellow

Yesterday I had a chance to revisit and share my experience as an MIEExpert and Fellow. I gave a talk with Lia DeCicco-Remu at the MSFT CAMP 21 in Fredericton. Thank you to Lia and Jacynth for having supper with me the day before. It was more than just a trip down memory lane, but also a chance see where we were with a view to the future.


I started my teaching career, teaching the way that I was taught, like a university prof, finishing the course with time to spare and only a couple of students left at the end. My mentors talked about finding out “How are my kids SMART?” vs “How SMART are my kids?” However, I never had the excuse, or the latitude to explore.

Mario suggested that I apply for the then “Global Innovative Educator Forum” through Microsoft Partners in Learning. This designation gave me an excuse to color outside the lines a bit.

The Xenotransplant Project was born. It was selected to attend the Global Forum in Cape Town. The project placed 3rd for communication and collaboration. The first Canadian Project to be a winner. Maybe New Brunswick Education can make an impact on the world. Maybe we are on the right track. Small town New Brunswick can compete on the world stage!!

Lia was inspiring and empowering. Jacynth taught me that NB can do great things. Norm told me to write. (I now have 3 books in the works.)

It opened many doors to interact with people like Angus McBeath, Sir Ken Robinson, and Bill Strickland. Together they taught things like, “Teaching is the most important paid job in the world”, “My students cannot wait for another research paper, a task force, or report. My kids are dying now.” “If you are not willing to fail, you will never do anything original.” These global mentors added to my local mentors to help me explore project based learning, collaborative projects, how technology can help or hinder etc…

Last year, I was designated as Canada’s first MIEExpert Fellow. This is an invitation only program. Part of those responsibilities is to mentor others. I had been doing that anyway in Virginia, China, England, and Colorado. Truth be told, Maybe I learned more from them.

MIE Fellow

Since then, I have been trying to unite the Canadian Network. So the last time I was in Toronto, I scheduled a delay in my flights so I could meet with other MIEEs. I had the privilege of meeting Kaylan Dorland. She was a first year Grade 2 teacher and already an MIEE. Wow! Her show case was Who to You, a program that uses Skype to connect her kids to others. I left our meeting inspired. We have plans for her grade 2 students to teach my grade 12’s how to use SWAY. I also tried to connect when in Calgary, but it is a bit too far to them.

kaylan Dorland

I was surprised and excited to hear from Lia that Kaylan also walked away from this short meet inspired and excited. This seems to happen a bunch. I guess I should just expect it when you put great people together. I just still have a tough time putting myself into that caliber of teacher.

The GIEF was the flashpoint that the mounting pressure was trying to produce. I owe much of my success to a whole bunch of people who invested time and energy into me. I Stand on the Shoulders of Giants.

It has been a great ride so far and I feel like the best is yet to come. I am looking forward what is on the horizon. Finally, Microsoft have created an environment that merges the functionality that I use from many different locations. Maybe I no longer need Moodle, Twitter for class, Google, WordPress, Grades, and YouTube. Microsoft may have leapfrogged many of the other companies who dabble in Education. The SWAY, ONENote Class and O365 may be the trifecta.







Inspiring a Province

Sometimes in New Brunswick, we have a small town complex. “My dream is to …. But I am just from New Brunswick”. “That is such a big problem, what can a small action from New Brunswick do?” This can translate to our education system as well. “We are a poor province, our education system must be terrible.”
I hope that this little project helps to destroy these attitudes. I get to rub shoulders with lots of celebrities. This little project is deemed worth by their heroes. If their teacher can make it big, perhaps they too can follow their dreams.

JRDN and me


Silken Laumann and me

Craig Keilburger and me 20151027_152429 20151027_155023

Craig Kielburger and Tracey

Other places are showcasing a New Brunswick-Colorado-UK project as a model to follow. Perhaps we can make an impact. Since we are small and near the bottom, maybe it is an opportunity to make a dramatic change in our 10 year plan. BC is trying to, but they are larger and have more inertia to overcome. We have an opportunity to become world leaders in education. Where people will immigrate to NB so that their kids will go to our schools. We have the talent in our province, we just need to be bold enough to use it!


Hell on Wheels

Henri Winckler

henry winkler


We Day Alberta!!

One Million Lights was invited to speak to 16,000 students at WE Day Alberta. For the first time, Gareth, Tracey, John and I were together in one place. Thanks to SMART Technologies who brought us together, we finally closed the circle. We made it to the Big Leagues.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0844.we day sign signatures behind scenes lights team ready to go on lights team on stage lights team on stage 2 light team in cue line gareth in cue line gareth and i in cue line
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I wonder if this will lead to growth in the number of participants in the OML/Engineering Brightness project.

We need a web page that can handle the traffic and collect data. We need a way to collect data on who is participating, where the lights are being produced, where they are being sent and a running total. I would also like a total number of volunteer hours.

OML Changes to Engineering Brightness

There has been some confusion about our name because there is another organization that is similar. Where they are fundraising to purchase lights, we are trying to have kids put their own hard work into the lights for their partners in learning around the world.

If the project is to be owned by the community, the community should name it. Students, teachers, and volunteers contributed and voted. There were two close options. While gathered together at a coffee shop in Calgary, we decided on a name. My original favorite did not stay my favorite.

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Engineering Brightness (Ryan Martine’s contribution) has a nice play on words. Not only are we trying to engineer lights so that students can study in brightness, we are also trying to be deliberate about growing a brightness of heart with the philanthropy and brightness of mind with the learning and design thinking. 

Michelle Romanow Keynotes at Shad Cup

The newest Dragon from CBC’s Dragon’s Den also happens to be on the board of SHAD Valley International. She gave a wonderful Keynote to the SHADS and the Shad Cup.
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She encouraged the SHADs to use their inexperience to just make it happen. Being young means she did not know that she was not supposed to be able to do it. It also meant that she had little to lose. She did not have a family to support. So take bold actions while you can.
Planning generally won’t save you from the big issues that show up. You cannot predict the problems that show up. Do not let “analysis paralysis” set in.
John Howe is looking for someone to inspire their students, particularly girls, into the entrepreneurial realm, both for business and social arenas. I wonder if Michelle would be interested in speaking.

Her story about going to St Andrews’ to get her Caviar was particularly interesting to the UNB SHADS as we visit there every year. Perhaps she would be interested in revisiting St Andrews’ with us next year!

I also wonder if she would be interested in Pretty Brainy and Brainy labs??

Learn East 2015

In August, I attended Learn East. For the first time in a long time, I went solely as a learner. I helped a bit in the maker space with Jacob, but he did not really need any help.

Listening to Sally Ng talk about how much she loved tech and STEM and one “women in comp sci” image of a person behind a screen all day turned her off, was so instructional. One poor 20 min presentation turned her off her talent. Fortunately, she has many talents upon which she can draw.

I was able to met and chat with David Alston. For a while, we have been moving AROUD each other. We finally got a chance to chat. I think there will be some synergy here.

The new SMART Tech rep was there. When he found out I was in the building, he removed the “FOGARTY-STUDY (still spelled wrong)” from his deck.

Found out that Partners in Learning is going to do an Ed Camp 21 in Freddy soon. I wonder if Lia will be coming??

Bryan Facey and Jeff Whipple run a fantastic session. I am so luck to spend time with both of them. They are so generous to me. Here’s hoping for more in the future.



Tech in the Classroom with AEI

At the end of July, I spoke to the Atlantic Education International (AEI) conference. There were lots of principals, new teachers, veteran teachers on their way to China and other places. I spoke about tech in the classroom. It was not a how to, but rather, look at what they can do, here is why you would want to. The literacy peer-authoring vs co-authoring really hit a chord.

It is interesting that people think they are doing collaboration or critical thinking or communication, until they see other things that are happening and all of a sudden, they are not so hot after all.

We need to keep preaching and showing real classrooms doing real work to inspire.

Nureva Troove and SPAN

It was a privilege to be invited to NUREVA’s to play with their new ideation products, SPAN and their digital Portfolio software, Troove.

Screenshot (56)nureva Troove

I really like both of their products. There are some classrooms that are SOOO ready for both of them. They fit into what the school of tomorrow should look like. Large digital space to work and the ability to use digital portfolios over the lifetime of a student can help get an accurate picture of a student, not just how they perform on tests. I hope that these will have enough critical mass to be sustainable. Are teachers, report cards, standardized testing and the whole system etc… ready for such things??

What could happen if the outside community can make comments and participate in the education of a student?

It will be fun to see how it all plays out.

Wearable lights arrive at Pheasey Park, UK

Earlier in the year, the Y4 UK students from Plessey Park Elementary suggested inspired us to make wearable lights for the Dominican. We were thinking only 3D printed. Our students learned how to sew, make circuits, solder, ohms law etc…We produced a few variations on a wrist wearable light with 6-10 LED’s.

The interesting connection physically solidified the virtual network we are creating. John Howe and Tracey Winey at Preston Middle, Colorado; me at RHS in Canada and Plessey Park in the UK have been working on designing and building lights for students who cannot study after dark. These collaborations were by email, Bridgit, SKYPE, Notebook and AMP… all virtual.

I flew to Keystone Colorado for INNEdCo. John drove from Fort Collins where I gave him 3 prototypes. He kept one. A few short days later, John flew to ISTE in Phili. David Whyley also attended ISTE Philip. They both spoke about OML while they were there. John handed two RHS wearable prototypes to David. David brought them back to the UK. David delivered them to the Y4 Plessey Park kids.

In early July, the UK kids were still in session. We were on summer break. We had a final skype/SMART AMP session where the UK students showcased their colorful decorations for the wearable lights that “were still under construction”. We had some great discussion about colours, boy and girl designs, the cost of multiple colours etc… At the end, we had a surprise unveiling. The story about John and David meeting in Philadelphia was told, a box was taken out and opened, revealing two wearable prototypes ready to be decorated by the UK students. They were wide-eyed and excited, that their virtual idea had changed the minds of high school students and now was live in front of them. We are anxious to see what becomes of them in the up coming year.


Innovation in Education Colorado (InnEdCo)


SMART Invited me to speak at InnEdCo in Keystone, Colorado, June 22-25th, 2015. I spoke on “How we can Make Students Successful in a Collaborative World”. In addition to talking about how collaboration can be taught side by side with literacy and word problems, I also presented some of the One Million Lights work. We showcased SMART AMP with the Can-UK collaboration.

I re-met so many people from Fort Collins. There seems to be a connection there. There were 3 people that came up to me and said something like, “I saw you speak at SES,…” and then continue to describe my talk. It is nice to know that what I am saying seems to be memorable.

I had a wonderful 30 min early morning face to face with one of the organizers of the conference who also happens to be an important person in Fort Collins Education. I think I challenged her thinking a bit around collaboration, 1:1 devices and SMARTBoards, particularly around peer editing vs co-authorship.

I am so thankful to John and Julie Howe for coming to visit me. They had so many other things on the go, yet they drove down to see me. Thank you. In addition to reconnecting, I was able to pass him some of the wearable lights that my grade 10 students made.

Later, John went to ISTE Phili and met with David Whyley who was also at ISTE. Two great people met each other. John handed the lights to David. David took the lights back to the UK to bring our little international collaboration full circle.

What happens next is the topic of another blog entry.

PS. I won a Lifeproof case from OTTERBOX for a phone that I do not have. TIme to find a Samsung S5!!