School Closure Tips for Younger Learners

School closures and distance learning are upon many of us.

There will likely be more in the foreseeable future.

There appears to be no end of resources and advice for older children already “plugged in” to the internet through a learning management system or organizational framework like Google but what about the younger ones?

This post will share ideas for younger learners like:

  1. Managing feedback
  2. Maintaining engagement
  3. Checking in on block programmers with the Tynker platform (now made free for the interim)


Managing Feedback


Maintaining Engagement


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Fast, Easy Tynker (Block Programming)
Tracking System


A Playlist of Programming for Young
Learners Videos for Your Class


I hope you found this helpful.

Stay Healthy!


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“Saving” The Giving Tree

Image result for the giving tree

Apparently Shel Silverstein’s classic children’s book, The Giving Tree, is falling from grace. Recently it was banned in the state of Colorado and, whether you are inclined to agree or not, it’s leading to growing concern and discussion among many concerned parents and educators. 

The Internet’s buzzing with it.

“Kids — and parents — need to understand that there’s a big difference between selflessness and generosity.” LINK

“The lesson is that people will only be your friend if you do what they want, and that anyone who doesn’t give you whatever you ask for is not your friend.” LINK

Do a Google search of your own.

This has become a hot topic with strong opinions on both sides. For my part, I always felt it was an incredibly sad tale.

As part of my Bachelor of Education degree (over twenty years ago now!) we were asked to write a children’s story. I chose to rewrite this classic in a brighter tone. I felt it missed the opportunity to impart a more uplifting perspective. I also realized that this would present an ideal chance to help spread the messages of stewardship and symbiosis central to First Nations and Aboriginal cultures the world over at a time when we grow more desperately in need of them.

This is what I aim to share with new generations of young people in the hope of engendering in them a greater sense of empathy for our living world. As a Canadian of Metis heritage, I feel this has become more crucial now than ever before.

Best of Friends

You can read for free on kindle unlimited


There are other aspects of First Nations culture touched upon as well. I have taken literary license in their incorporation. Tobacco and smudging are sacred rites, and they are meant to show respect, just not necessarily in the way they are portrayed here. Flutes and love songs are also a part of many cultures as are canoes and the use of lodge poles. I hope this book can also act as a springboard for further inquiry. 

I hope you will add it your your own library or maybe that of someone you love. It would be a useful addition as part of an international mindedness curriculum or for incorporating into a literature study unit alongside The Giving Tree.

The name Meekwun was inspired by a little boy who seemed to enjoy hearing this tale lo those many years ago on the Big Trout Lake First Nation in Northern Ontario, Canada. I hope you and your family, or maybe your classes, enjoy it!

Screen Shot 2019-11-01 at 14.53.46.png

Read for free on kindle unlimited





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What are Learning Analytics & Data Visualization and why should you care?

If you’re in education you have likely heard these terms before.

Or you soon will.

This blog post offers an introduction and overview. Even if you’re at a school that has a complete, effective system for collecting and visualizing useful data based on whole school discussions you will find something of use here. Below you will find:

  1. Some definitions of the terms
  2. A simple hierarchical model of student data collection for feedback, reflection & visualization
  3. A video detailing how each level can be tied to a Google Tool for innovative implementation
    1. This is the start of a free series tied to tutorials for skill development with weekly updates

So let’s get to it, shall we?

You can subscribe for the free training series by subscribing to this YouTube Channel.

Screen Shot 2019-10-25 at 16.00.57.png

Learning analytics is the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of data about learners and their contexts, for purposes of understanding and optimizing learning and the environments in which it occurs.

So what? 

Why does this matter to me?

The use of learning analytics is just about taking what you already do, tracking student progress for improving outcomes, and developing systems for using this data more effectively.

No doubt, you’ve also heard of Data Visualization.

Data visualization is the graphical representation of information and data. By using visual elements like charts, graphs, and maps, data visualization tools provide an accessible way to see and understand trends, outliers, and patterns in data. [LINK]

So what? 

Why does this matter to me?

The trend regarding the use of learning analytics for data visualization is clear. It is mandated more and more and we are hearing the term data-driven more and more as well. Of course we are. They are one and the same.

I have developed the following hierarchical model as a tool for teachers and schools to start from the bottom up.

Screen Shot 2019-10-25 at 15.40.33.png

Doing this properly as a whole school requires the following:

  1. Commitment
    1. This will take time.
    2. The more faculty buy-in the better.
  2. Conversation
    1. Faculty need to be part of the development of direction and systems. 
      1. What is the data for? 
      2. What do we want to know?
      3. How will we use it?
  3. Understanding
    1. By starting out at the classroom level end users will develop understandings of the process and become more effective agents of change.
  4. Reflection
    1. As we advance to the year and department levels of implementation, times need to be set for discussion of the findings and refining of questions and input mechanisms for data sets.
  5. Dedication
    1. Not just in the sense of, “We are professionals looking to improve,” but a dedicated team needs to be put in place for managing data systems and keeping everyone on the same page.
  6. Time
    1. As with all things, starting out takes time.
      1. The longer we use these systems the more time they save in the long run.
      2. The better we serve the children in our care.

Please drop a line in the comments or if you have any questions or could use a little experienced help setting up your school.

The Introductory Video to this Free YouTube Series


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Are You Interested in Becoming a Published Bestseller?

It is easier than ever before but, as you might expect, there are more pitfalls than ever when you go the self-published/promoted route.


First off though,

“Why should I become a published bestseller?”


  1. You can share your message with a wider audience
  2. You can develop more streams for networking, sharing and even income generation
  3. You can STAND OUT
  4. You gain immediate, lasting credibility for all you do
  5. You will become more competitive as an expert in your field
  6. You will receive an unbelievable boost in opportunities for public speaking engagements (should you want them)
  7. You will get rich off book royalties and enjoy an opulent lifestyle
  8. If you want #7 and that’s all please stop reading right here


The list could be expanded but this will suffice for this blog post.


You can become an Amazon bestseller, guaranteed, if you know what to do. These accolades are not all created equally however. There are SCAMS out there promising you this badge of honour that don’t really count.



Do you want to be a bestseller for 5 minutes in an obscure category completely unrelated to your field that generates no income and is easily exposed as a fraud, actually damaging your good name? (Find out how here.)

There are also “publishing farms” (my phrase) that charge groups of people to get in a room together and review each other’s books for a day in these obscure categories and call it quits. That’s it. No support for helping you promote after the fact.

There are other online businesses that want to charge you thousands of dollars for a few hard copies and even a limited number of digital versions that YOU HAVE TO SELL ON YOUR OWN!

There are more traditional style analog publishers who make you buy hundreds of copies of your own book and then guess what… YOU HAVE TO SELL THEM ON YOUR OWN!

There are other, quite reputable companies, that will guarantee to get you the highly sought-after Amazon bestseller status, support you in editing (even ghost write for you), support you in promotion and developing funnels (pathways to purchase for the book and related courses, public speaking opportunities, etc.) but charge anywhere from $10,000-$25,000!

UPDATE: My most recent round of research uncovered a publishing “School” that wants me to pay $6,997 for their course so that I can then, you guessed it, SELL THEM ON MY OWN! Actually it is quite a bit more if I want to buy the courses on offer helping me to write the book. In the initial phone call I was quoted $9,000 for a publishing and marketing “bundle” of courses. A few hours later it was raised to $11,000 before the hard sell option of immediate purchase for the $6,997 that expects me to go it alone!

Traditional publishers are a nearly impossible option for those with a first manuscript. It will take years of hard work and rejection and most likely you won’t get published anyway. Sorry, sad but true. Or you can go it alone and self-publish on Amazon. Anyone can do it and it’s not all that hard. Sales and exposure, however, that is another thing all together.

Having been through all of this I want to offer you

a brand new solution.

DISCLAIMER: This will involve investment on your part.

In order to reap all of the benefits listed at the top of this post without the years of struggle with no guarantees for success or the exorbitant and impossible costs of these “elite” publishers I invite you to join the:


Educators Publishing Cooperative

We are dedicated to helping educators share personal insights to support improved practice in the field of education and
take their careers to the next level.


We manage this by publishing collections of works by inspiring and innovative educators with new ideas and approaches to share:

  • One chapter each
  • 10-20 pages / submission
  • We need at least 15 confirmed submissions before publishing
  • We can publish with fewer if the submissions are longer and the group involved is agreeable to a higher individual cost


Here’s how it works:

  1. Go to this opt-in page to apply for your chapter’s inclusion.
    1. Each chapter is completely stand alone and needs to be able to stand as such. Authors often use longer blogposts as the inspiration for chapters.
  2. If there are spots available for the next publication and your submission topic is a good match we will hold your spot upon receipt of a deposit. (It would be unfair to turn down other potential authors in the event of cancelation.)
  3. We set target dates for drafts and editing submissions before publication.
  4. Authors have complete freedom and we encourage creativity in all aspects of your writing and submission.
    1. Original artwork is encouraged!
    2. FUNDAMENTAL NOTE: We are not a professional editing service. Please have your WORK PROOFREAD MULTIPLE TIMES BY MULTIPLE PEOPLE. Especially make certain that final submissions have been shared with proofreaders and editors from your network to be published as your polished, professional face to the world.
      1. Naturally we do read and comment on all submissions but you must be capable of producing publishable work with a minimum of editorial guidance from the cooperative.
    3. This service is for authors who feel ready to publish a book of their own but wish to raise their profile with a bestselling author status in a collection before attempting to do so.


This is not a get rich quick scheme.

  • This is a new approach to publishing

  • It is cooperative

  • It is focused on educators


We aim to combine the best of all present options while avoiding the pitfalls.

If you want to publish a chapter in a compilation just to make money then please do not apply. All profits are divided up and evenly shared among all in the cooperative formed for each publication. The point, however, is to spread our messages and increase our exposure as thought leaders and innovative educators.


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Free Animation Course (ongoing beta)

Sorry to my loyal subscribers for the absence of recent posts. My zeal for sharing has found most recent outlet on my seansensei8 YouTube Channel and website.

But, as usual, I digress…

SUBSRIBE TO seansensei8!

I’ve been having a ball teaching people how to do this for years and am looking to spread the word on how you can release your creativity and have fun making your own original products for consumption online.

I am in the midst of putting together a new course on animation. The idea was to demonstrate the basics of drawing with simple (South Park like) characters to then get to the skills of actually animating. (For copyright reasons I am calling it North Dork! 😂) I have other videos like this one that go deeper into developing the skills for more detailed work.

This video shows an example animation used as an introductory segment for a video:

This tutorial demonstrates how to put together one of your own:

This tutorial sets up the sideways version of the walking character to later be converted to GIF Format:

I will continue to add these beta tutorials until the actual course (made with greater detail, assignments and content) is up and running. I don’t do this for a living but because I love it and just can’t seem to stop!

This Just In!

A video “reimagining” of the iconic kitchen scene from Pulp Fiction for the TECH OFFICE:

Subscribe to this blog (top right hand corner) for automatic updates and please…

Share it around!

Further proof that I love making stuff.
I have a T-shirt site of which I am the sole customer! 🤣

Are You Interested in Becoming a Published Bestseller?

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Join FREE Animation Course!

I’m still a #Creativity Zealot.

#vector #graphics #digitalstory

I can’t stop making stuff and love to share how with others.

I am starting a free course up on Animating for Everyone! (CLICK ME!)

If you have slideshow software you have the capacity to create:

  • logos
  • images
  • characters
  • gifs
  • animated stories of varying complexity

Please share this around with anyone who might enjoy learning how to make animated movies a-la South Park on their Macs.

Thank you!

Are You Interested in Becoming a Published Bestseller?

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Digital Literacy: Three-Pronged Project

ALTERNATE TITLE: Weekend with #geekdad

So, my daughter just LOVES the Elephant & Piggie series by Mo Willems. They are simply illustrated stories for beginning readers. We were so inspired by the series we (well, mainly I) wrote a story hopefully in the same tenor.

But why not make it somehow more?

We made it in Keynote (see more on this here). We recorded it as a video (below) and then I then took screenshots to import into Photos for producing a proper analog book to read at school (screenshot of book below as well as this link to the pdf online version).

You can see the creativity. You can see how it would inspire students in your own class (or family!). Make one yourself. You’ll be happy you did!

Keynote for Digital Story Telling

Screenshot of book layout in Photos Book dashboard:



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What is an Innovation Coach?

The short answer:

It’s about:

  • More focused collaboration with colleagues to improve learning (ideally supported by a team)
  • Improving good practice through collaborative design of better outcomes and learning objectives
  • Not starting and ending with technology (though it matters!)…

For a start.

The Long(er) Answer


The idea of educational coaching is not entirely new but, like many relatively new ideas, it has many meanings to different people. I am sharing my thoughts on it briefly here.

Step 1, The Historical Context: Educational Technology Coach
It seems to me that more widely known is the development of educational technology coaching. Most agree that technology integration in schools is necessary. With no more time available and increasing demands on curricula, teachers seek to embed the development of technology skills and understandings into their prescribed units of work.

The pace of technology, however, can add strain to overworked teachers making it difficult to keep up. Enter the technology coach. Ideally experienced classroom teachers from the start, these people combine the best of specialist teacher and co-teacher. These coaches:

  1. Bring new ideas based on the ever-changing technology landscape
  2. Offer insights into how technology can be integrated into the curriculum
  3. Support teachers and students in the development of related skills
  4. Help students and teachers reflect on the bigger picture of how technology fits into our world and how it supports learning (the meta aspect)




Evolution of the Tech Coach
As technology becomes a more and more natural part of the planning process, however, many begin to wonder if this position is still necessary. Now, this is my take on things here but…

For this to be true it must address the facts noted above; most importantly, the fact that teachers still have increasing demands made upon their time. Valuing a position in which teachers have access to new ideas from an in-house expert should not be disregarded.



Enter the Innovation Coach
This is a natural step, hence my reference to it as evolutionary. As also alluded to, the need for innovation with technology is widely accepted. This transformation to innovation coaching addresses the fact that it will always be necessary but that innovation has never and should never begin and end with technology.

The idea of developing proven talent with the passion for teaching with and through technology, the introduction of a more far reaching role, not limited to technology, seems quite natural in this context.

Professional Learning vs. Professional Development
At their best these change agents support teachers empathetically to develop strategies for reflecting on practice to constantly improve (see cognitive coaching).

And this is all done in-house, in an ongoing fashion to support teachers through taking responsibility for their own professional learning and development. We’ve all attended weekend workshops that may be inspiring at the time but fail to help us achieve lasting change. This obstacle can be overcome to some extent by participating in high energy, learner driven events where professionals choose their own learning pathways and work in ways that best support their own unique learning styles (As we strive to enable our students to). The constancy of in-house, learning communities, however, is still the core.




Of course, when professional development is mapped out and informed by a clearly defined and monitored vision of professional growth this can also be a powerful force for change. In a model in which selected groups are sent to workshops with the directive of developing action plans (see ASCD action research) then we achieve the best of both worlds. Taken further to a departmental and school wide level by administrators you can get a sense of what a school may become through the strength of a synergistic approach.


Employing further an actively global networked approach allows educators to reach further outside of these immediate communities for fresh ideas to share within their school groups of practice as well.


Are You Interested in Becoming a Published Bestseller?


Go here for more on:



There is far more to consider than is practical for this (short?) blog post. We’ve only brushed upon the ideas of cognitive coaching and action research without even considering the use of standards such as the International Society for Technology in Education’s famous “ISTE’s“. These are an effective source of reflection for teachers to use in order to assess to proven standards and supply students with appropriately reworded rubrics for formative, reflective and summative assessments (another whole blog post there).

A Final Word for Coaches and Would-be Coaches
Be generous. You are learning all the time in your drive to support others.

screen-shot-2017-01-28-at-2-06-02-pmShare it within:

  • your department
  • your school community
  • your area
  • your region
  • the world.

When you need to support someone with a more skills related task make a digital record of it. Make the screencast. Make the Google Slides tutorial. Then set up some sort of repository (see personal example here) to share with others for inspiration or as a resource that can be used again and again as more people become interested.


Share this around!


TPACK is an effective visual on the ideal of integration

Still need more? Check out Seán McHugh’s more scholarly post on Digital Technology Coaching (DTC, another term for plain old Tech Coach though descriptive) here.

Also look for:

  • Technology Integration Specialist
  • Technology Integrator
  • Educational Technology Coach

Oh and speaking of ideals, check out:


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YouTube Child Safety Training 101

OK, let’s talk YouTube.

Recently some students at school saw some shocking things on YouTube. We went into full mobilisation on how to deal with this. We briefly considered locking it out of the school’s Google environment but then decided to take the higher road. Students can and will still see YouTube in their lives so let’s do some research and prepare them for it.

The videos and slideshow below, along with classroom and parent discussions are how we began. I hope they can be of some service to others as well.


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Lower Primary ICT (#EdTech)

As part of a LinkedIn discussion on what to do with younger (elementary / primary) learners in ICT (#EdTech) I thought I would share some of my thoughts with the wider community.

I presently work with children K-4. I am a firm believer in teaching with technology for the following reasons:

  1. It imparts fundamental digital age skills
  2. It is multi (trans)-disciplinary
  3. It enables better collaboration
  4. It empowers independence
  5. As children spend more time interacting with curricular content, they further develop understandings
  6. As they craft messages and consider how to best communicate, they enhance their ability to do so to demonstrate understanding

Screen Shot 2016-04-16 at 4.19.05 PM

With younger learners we are often the doorway to this digital world. While I would never advocate proper typing practice for children before Grade 3 we do start good habits. If children are using a keyboard, keep it simple, encourage them to use both hands!

Data storage and retrieval are key skills students must have the opportunity to develop. There are a number of apps out there, like EasyBlogger, Jr. that allow for children to use the technology without the capacity or need for reading and writing.

Perhaps it would be best to share out a curriculum I have been developing based on these ideas.

Upper Kindergarten

Much of the work can be done in less fundamental ways with mere substitution such as practicing Fry words on an iTouch app (SAMR blog post here). Last year, however, we achieved full “redefinition” when we collaborated across departments to create an original ABC Phonics video. Children created artwork in Art class that was used in conjunction with musical accompaniment from the Music department that was then used to record them singing with the Technology Specialist who combined in all to produce this video:

Grade 1

In Grade 1 we created characters in Keynote allowing children to:

  1. Develop data storage and retrieval skills
  2. Become familiar with a typical application interface
  3. Extend work with shapes and shape language from mathematics
  4. Get introduced to the credo of independence and supporting others

Naturally, it ended up as a video on our YouTube channel as well:

Later in the year we tied it to traditional literacy and digital citizenship when we created weekly green screen News casts reporting on our progress:

Based on this success we have committed to developing this approach with a proper green screen set up already being used by more classes school wide and with better technical results.

Grade 2

We integrated technology into our International Primary Curriculum by making Documentary videos in iMovie, allowing us to learn new technology skills, develop a better understanding of copyright, creative commons and citation (great resource for classes/teachers here) while further developing and demonstrating understanding of the unit’s objectives:

As this is the year we start spending more time online we spent a good deal of time focused on Digital Citizenship. We used a variety of means including the Nearpod/Common Sense Media curriculum and went so far as to produce Books for library and as gifts to Grade 1 classes to better prepare them for the next year when they would do likewise.

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Student pages online here.

Grade 3

We introduce children to Google Apps from this year (Great resource for teachers here). So much to say here could be it’s own course, never mind blog post!

In this year level students produced Tour Builder projects demonstrating understanding of time zones and learning about latitude and longitude. Naturally, the screencasts of their work found their way to the school YouTube channel after a quick polishing in iMovie:

This year we have added Ebook creation with Google Slides in our IPC Rain Forest Unit. This gives students the opportunity to develop skills with this app (including how to source images and reference material through the Tools>Explore function) as well as the fundamental skills of visual literacy and digital story telling.

We are using Google Classroom to support the students in the development of self-management skills and taking greater responsibility for directing their learning and tracking their own progress. The checklist shared through the classroom includes a peer assessment chat as well and, along with their eBooks, will be shared in their portfolios.

Grade 4

We take this work with Google Apps further here, including the incorporation of student produced Puppet Pals videos into Google Slides:

As part of the technology integration program at the International School of the Sacred Heart students made a presentation to the class based on their collaborative research and Puppet Pals videos.
Girls were given skill building and introductory lessons on:

  • The Google Slides application and interface (including styles, animations, embedding video, the use of Speaker Notes and how to use the Present function)
  • Principles of C.A.R.P. design (right)
  • Notes on basic presentation skills

Naturally with an assessment rubric used by Mr. Thompson on their first attempt at presenting in this manner in Grade Four.

Screen Shot 2016-10-25 at 2.46.23 PM.png

We also introduce programming without the code via Scratch (Loads here). We are looking to go much further with this having Grade 3 work with Scratch starting this year and introducing programming via Scratch, Jr. for the iPad, Swift Playgrounds, Osmo Coding and Tynker as well.


There is much more that we do and will continue to integrate and/or teach independently but this post has to end somewhere so let it be here. Feel free to visit for WAAAAAY more and seansensei8 on YouTube for tutorials and don’t forget to subscribe to them all!

Good luck:).

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