GEPIC Event Featuring Ed Tech Consultant Jeff Dumoulin



Spring into Action with GEPIC!

The Grand Erie Parent Involvement Committee invites parents to a day of learning on April 1, 2017.  No Fooling!! Sorry I couldn’t resist.

Parents play a vital role in education. The Grand Erie Parent Involvement Committee (GEPIC) invites you to a day of learning and networking.

Information and interactive sessions led by Grand Erie District School Board staff include: Achievement, Mental Health and Well-Being, Safe Schools and Educational Technology.

Date: Saturday, April 1, 2017

Time: 8:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Location: Ryerson Heights Elementary School, 33 Dowden St., Brantford

Register by March 23, 2017! Visit

Coffee and refreshments available upon arrival, and lunch will be served. Child care is also available.


I really hope that you can take some time to come and see Safe School presentations and an exhibition of some of the latest technology that is being used in the classrooms of our schools.



Professionally Speaking – Promoting the use of Digital Tools


I have noticed that the Professional Magazine for the Ontario College of Teachers is really hoping on board with the use of digital learning resources both for certification of teachers and for use in the classroom.  In the most recent issue the magazine promotes some twitter members for learning, Arts in the classroom, shares e-learning courses for educators, and even the blue pages shares a social media case.  I like the way they present the case to allow us as the reader to judge the outcome.

Below are the Arts Apps highlighted in the March edition of Professionally Speaking:

ANIMATE IT! free trial! Software + camera + clay figures = movie magic! Introduce stop-motion animation with this intuitive app from Aardman, the Oscar-winning studio. Keep it short, sweet and simple for younger students, or push your older students’ creative limits by exploring the built-in editing tools and scenery options. Grade: K to 12 Visit:

MUSICNOTES Present students with sheet music for Lady Gaga’s “Million Reasons” or Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood” and you’re sure to generate some serious enthusiasm. An eclectic database of more than 300,000 arrangements (for multiple instruments) means there’s something to suit nearly every musical taste. Grade: K to 12 Visit:

ARTRAGE Break out every tool without breaking your art budget. With ArtRage, students can experiment using virtual ink, watercolour, oil paint and more — all with realistic effects. Plus, it’s easy to co-ordinate group projects and share work online. Bonus: No messes to clean or supply closets to restock. Grade: K to 12 Visit:

SKETCHUP free trial! Challenge: Design an ideal home, or maybe an environmentally friendly school. With SketchUp — intuitive software developed for design professionals — students use a little math and a lot of imagination to create 3D objects that can be pushed, pulled and rotated. It’s engineering that’s both practical and fun. Grade: K to 12 Visit:

PIXTON free trial! From the drama of Dr. Strange to the silliness of Captain Underpants, comics appeal to a wide range of students. With Pixton, you can assign your class the thrilling job of creating their own comic strips. The site lets them choose characters, costumes, settings, action and dialogue, frame by frame. Grade: K to 12 Visit:

SCIENCE OF MUSIC free! Why do our singing voices sound so good in the shower? Students can discover these answers to chin-stroking, music-related questions here, plus muck around with a variety of sounds: mix stomps, claps or the musicality of household items. It’s the how, the why and the ‘cool!’ of musical learning. Grade: 6 to 12 Visit:

CLASSICS FOR KIDS free! Tap into classroom-friendly classical compositions (such as Peter and the Wolf), podcasts and lesson plans perfect for your elementary-level musicians. There’s even an instant classical composer page in the Games section, where students drag notes onto a blank staff, then hit play to hear their creations. Grade: K to 5 Visit:

DESTINATION MODERN ART free! If a field trip to a Manhattan museum is a hair outside the budget, consider clicking on Destination Modern Art. This site lets children direct animated creatures on a virtual tour of the MoMA. Point-and-click narration explores an art centre, Pablo Picasso’s Three Musicians, the Wassily Chair and plenty

( , p. 21)

Schools are now in the cloud



The cloud and O365 is changing the today’s classrooms.  Our Ed Tech team has been working with teachers for 5 years now and promoting the use of cloud based applications like Onenote.  As I make my visits to elementary and secondary schools this spring it has become obvious that despite past challenges with our network and bandwidth teachers and students are using cloud based technologies to change how our classes look and feel.

Devices provided by the board and brought into today’s classes are used regularly to deliver lessons, curriculum.  Collaborate with others and create critical learners.

In early days of the digital revolution I can remember hearing teachers saying that their chalk never failed them.  And yes the challenge of connectivity seemed to support this thinking but now as the bandwidth in schools expands this thinking is really selling our students short.  I am pleased that the majority of classes I have visited recently have teachers dropping the chalk in exchange for digital and cloud technologies.  With OneNote which is shared through the cloud students are able to access learning materials outside the classroom and with student learning environments like Brightspace content and learning become self directed.

Connecting and collaborating are so much easier with the variety of apps and software applications that once again use cloud and internet to support learning.  Students are no longer recepticals to stuff with new knowledge but are interacting, evaluating and becoming critical assessors of information from websites and experts all over the world.

As we continue to move forward with evolving technologies and cloud based tools one thing is certain is we need to as educators not just replace chalk based lessons with digital ones but we need to look at how to teach our students to create, innovate and expand out critical thinking skills.

Brings us back to the focus on 21st Century Competencies that I discussed in other blogs.

Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC) – 21st Century Compentencies



In February 2016, the Ontario Ministry of Education presented the 21st Century Foundation Document which included a draft set of competencies synthesized from the latest research:

In July 2016, the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC) approved a set of competencies based on input from provinces and territories. CMEC has approved the full release of these competencies and their descriptors (attached).

Although the CMEC competencies are endorsed by the Ontario Minister of Education, they do not represent an Ontario framework. However, they will inform Ontario’s work in the development of its own framework moving forward.


Brightspace for Ed Tech Student Crews makes learning fun



This year our Ed Tech Team have been leveraging Brightspace to support our Student Crews.  Student crews are groups of students working with a staff member in their school to support teachers and students in the use of technology.  Training and support for the Student Crews occurred recently at the JBLC.  Students participated in a series of sessions to help them support their mandate of support.

Additionally the Ed Tech team have developed badges within Brightspace to allow student to have fun while they expand their technical expertise.  Badges are earned by completing modules online on variety of topics and application.  Students and staff just love this extrinsic reward for their efforts.  To keep them interested we have been continuously adding badges to the list.  Some of the badges that are shown available above.


Finland Schools Undergoing Major Reforms



Recently come across and article on Educational reforms in Finland which I found very interesting.

It appears that Finland schools are eliminating the subject based teaching model to look at a more integrated approach to learning. Finland’s education system is considered one of the best in the world. In international ratings, it’s always in the top ten.  They seem to be recognizing the importance of 21st Century Competencies.  The Finnish are looking at breaking with the traditional subject based model in exchange for finding learning through making meaningful connections, promoting self learning, collaboration and other 21st Century skills.

It will be very interesting to follow the progress of this change and to see how it impacts the Finnish education rankings. Kudos to the teachers and Finnish system for not resting on laurels and looking to shake up an already excellent system.

For an interesting article on Finland’s success on the PISA see the article below it becomes clear why the country is comfortable with the move away from subject teaching:

Three reasons for Finlands high PISA scores

Microsoft Translator is Game Changer


Now available on Windows 10.  Microsoft Translator allows for real-time translation in any language.

All you need to do is login to the app store on your windows device and find Translator.  You may need to click on the Grand Erie DSB link at top of store page (see circled picture below)