Friday, February 5, 2021

Girls Who Game (GWG) 2020-2021

 Before diving into game-based learning and the culminating challenge our #GirlsWhoGame (GWG) club members along with their coaches, Grade 6 teacher Kamla Rambaran @McM_MsR, Grade 4 teacher Sebastian Basualto @Sebasualto, and myself discussed, shared & established club norms focussed on building trust, shared responsibility, their digital presence & values (take risks, be kind, actively listen).

#GirlsWhoGame members met with Katina Papulkas @KatPapulkas, Canadian Education Strategist at DELL, and our mentor Karen Beutler @kbeutler who introduced the girls to this year’s Culminating Challenge: to design and create an eatery of the future in Minecraft. #GirlsWhoGame members began by brainstorming:

What are the needs in our local / national / global community?

Who might we need to connect with to learn more?

  • Connecting with Indigenous knowledge keepers

  • Connecting with a secondary school class in Kenya

  • Connecting with a local food bank

#GirlsWhoGame members were provided with opportunities to develop their Minecraft building skills, the Global Competencies focussed on transferable skills and understanding of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The inquiry-based learning and the Design Thinking process guided members to better inform ideas and decisions. GWG members worked in teams to design their microworld and use coding while building a prototype as a solution for the culminating challenge. Members shared with the #GirlsWhoGame community via Flipgrid, as well as making connections with STEM career mentors. Grateful to Faye Ho @geekyfay, IT manager at the TDSB for sharing her journey as a #LifeLongLearner and that ‘there is never a straight path in learning’.

We were fortunate to have scheduled virtual guided workshops hosted by Maria @itsninastar and Jordena @azraellxx from Microsoft Stores across Canada; like, how to build pistons, chain reactions and movement in a kitchen. Also, how about using podzol block to grow mushrooms, soul sand block for nether wart plants, using bone meal to help things grow quickly, how to compost & so many more gardening tips to consider in their builds.

Our goal is to continue on our path and jump onboard the growing eSports Minecraft build challenge community like the one hosted this past weekend with schools in Toronto, Ontario and Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Proud to congratulate our McMurrich JPS #GirlsWhoGame members! Level 1 Eatery of the Future Culminating Challenge! There were 50 judges for 30 entries from across Canada & USA. So many of our members were online to watch the news be shared live during the #GirlsWhoGame celebrations! Our morning gathering was filled with pride, excitement and enthusiasm to continue learning to build and code in Minecraft!

I can't emphasize enough the admiration I have for all the #GirlsWhoGame members, coaches, mentors and sponsors; I would further like to highlight that our team members continued to connect, collaborate and build while in school moving from brick&mortar to remote learning spaces. Their respect for each other was strengthened by their understanding in being patient, adaptable and persevering during a global pandemic. To end this post, I can't think of a better way than with a student quote: Grade 6 #GirlsWhoGame member: “We built on our growing awareness of what girls can do in STEM fields. Girls who Game allowed us to build positive relationships in and out of the Minecraft world and confidence in knowing that we are change makers and can be leaders in STEM.” 

To learn more about Girls Who Game check out:

#GirlsWhoGame (Grade 4&6) Local Toronto Eatery

#GirlsWhoGame (Grade 4&6) Rural Kenya Community Eatery

#GirlsWhoGame (Grade 4&6) Indigenous Community Eatery

A shout out to all sponsors Dell, Microsoft and Intel Technologies. 

Friday, January 22, 2021

ACTUA 2021 National Conference: virtual conference

Wow, I didn't realize that this post in one year following the same conference in Ottawa! So many posts left in draft and I don't know if they will ever get published as they were reflections written at a different time and under very different circumstances. For now, to quote myself from last year and it still rings true: 

"So grateful for the opportunity to be part of discussions during professional development sessions with educators across Canada that was designed to focus on building curriculum, but also listening to each other’s experiences from a school, system, provincial and network partner lens."

Below are a few highlights of the virtual conference capturing words of wisdom, thoughtful and meaningful discussions as we move forward in rethinking how we redesign learning experiences/opportunities for students in our class and school communities (brick&mortar or virtual settings). 

Cyber Safety Education Framework session hosted by Abbey, Emily & @CaitlinQuarr as they engaged participants in discussion and reflection on cyber safety beyond the scare tactics, being informed and proactive #ActuaNC2021 #ActuaCyberSmart

@ActuaCEO Abbey, @RoyalChukz @VoteCamilo virtual fireside chat: Anti-Racism in STEM #ActuaNC2021 

👉whose voice is present or silent, represented and address these inequities, challenge systems in our work in education-Abbey

👉I don’t get a say to shut off racism for the day-Chứk

Burden of proof placed on the wrong groups that is used to protect whiteness/ systemic barriers. Protect marginalized groups & people from whiteness. Decolonization is not a thought exercise. Resources needed for self determination & governance. -Camilo

Racism is an everything issue for radicalized people: health, education, environmental and all sectors -Chứk

Discussions about diversity > from what? centers on whiteness (as a power symbol)

Discussions about being inclusive > into what? into whiteness (as a power symbol)

There is more to learning and be vulnerable on what needs to be learning/unlearned. This is the now and future. STEM is a place to engage in these discussions as ideas & identities are expanded and engage future learning.


Kelly, Beedahbin, Dan, Doug, @TracyLRoss session focussed on Land-Based STEM Learning #ActuaNC2021 

Supporting indigenous STEM programs is a need to improve indigenous youth education, opportunities in STEM related careers - skills set, tool set & mindset now & future innovators

Bring science out of the classroom and back to the land. Consider starting the discussions/lessons outdoors and building language, imagination and science of land based STEM. Break out of the traditional ecological environmental framework - governing structures. Hierarchy of science in western science doesn’t always fit that same as how to look at things in Indigenous science.-Beedahbin

A huge opportunity to remember/redesign what the classroom can look like for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous educators. Outdoor learning is not new but needs to be embedded in learning and with intentionality, looking at pedagogy. -Doug

Sports/recreation rooted in colonial history. Indigenous practices appropriated/revised to western ways of thinking. Engaging in physical culture practices beyond compartmentalizing. Indigenous peoples didn’t have words for leisure or work as it is all embodied in relationality > with each other & environment. We have a part to play on the land. Bringing youth into the outdoors and understanding that out relationship with the land is reciprocal. -Dan 

Teaching about relationships with plants and the land. Think relationally about giving back to the land before taking from it. Move past just sustainability & leave barely a footprint. Embodying learning in virtual school is limiting how we connect to the land. -Kelly

Joanne, Alexandra, Karatina, Arron & @TracyLRoss Remote with Intention session focussed on programs available and the intentional shift to virtual/remote learning #ActuaNC2021 @actuacanada

Online programming can not replicate in class learning. Intentional designing of all lessons. Works both within the platform and programs. Adjustments accordingly. Virtual/remote learning must included element of feedback and engagement/participation. -Alexandra

Being aware of materials/supplies and their availability in the homes of our students as designing activities. Either no supplies required or somehow provided to students who are remote learning. Gather feedback from families on needs for remote learning. Engagement w/ students online during synchronous time, find ways to rethink/rebuild. Lean into building content that students will want to engage in. -Katarina

How do we incorporate culture in authentic ways? Invite guests, Knowledge Keepers and engage students/families in discussions. Seek out ways to listen to the voice of the learner. Students will offer feedback and educators/program designers will need to adjust. Outreach considerations in designing programs/kits too. Getting ways to engage students with water in their territories and how students can become stewards too. -Aaron

A shoutout to school and public libraries! And also giving space and being flexible when doing outreach as all branches in education/program developers need time to make adjusts, prioritize and re-engage with partners/schools.

Jonathan, Zachary & @CaitlinQuarr session AI Education Inspiration #ActuaAI #ActuaNC2021 (English) (Français) 

Diverse resources, little to no coding experience required. has new youth activities to explore.

Discussing data sets like Sketch RNN (completes your own drawings based on a shape) or Google Quick Draw (where you are offered a prompt and challenge to complete it).…


Survival of the Best Fit - focusses on analyzing data bias. Can automate the process based on the data that has been shared… and may request additional data as it builds a pattern.


Teachable Machine: transfer learning-based AI models Machine Vision: engage in discussions about when AI is useful, does a computer identify what it sees. How might that tell us what we need & how to improve data collection… 


Applications of AI are explored in the resources. Designing & implementing data collection and critical analysis, recognizing patterns and building understanding of the importance ethical approaches to tech.  


Looking forward to building upon these conversations, putting action items together that support our youth but importantly, our Black and Indigenous youth as innovators and creators.

Thank you ACTUA for the invitation to continue being a part of the @ActuaCanada teacher network.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Actua's 2020 National Conference

Bucket list item: riding on the VIA Rail (train) ✅! Thank you Mahfuza @MahfuzaLRahman for your patience with me and for always just being awesome with our simple and polite or deep conversations during our travels together.
So grateful for the opportunity to be part of discussions during professional development sessions with educators across Canada that was designed to focus on building curriculum, but also listening to each other’s experiences from a school, system, provincial and network partner lens.
Listening to Jennifer Flanagan @ActuaCEO speak to a room filled with great energy and enthusiasm from both educators and networking partners. The wait for the awesome sessions offered both on Friday and Saturday was well worth it! @ActuaCanada #ActuaNC2020

Ramy @ramynassar shared his journey with ACTUA as a former camper, volunteer, instructor and director. His vision, put into practice is about designing technology that is reflective of what people need; check out: @1000daysout1

Discussions got really interesting as the focus moved onto artificial intelligence (AI). Using AI to augment or automate? Thinking through how AI impacts society; recognizing and addressing bias in data and algorithms; who is inputting the data, using the data, what does it mean, and how do we influence this? AI is more than engineering! All levels of professionals need to provide input! Natacha and Ramy both are encouraging educators to continue teaching critical thinking, problem solving, questioning information, where/who it comes from and discuss implicit bias. Jennifer @ActuaCEO reminds us of the importance of Digital Literacy and Citizenship continues to be at the forefront for discussing, planning and protecting cyber safety and privacy.

Continuing to build understanding about AI and machine learning is part of our daily lives and interactions with tech as we make choices, search information and build our digital identity. So many connections that can be made back in our class/curriculum! Check out ACTUA's AI Education Handbook 

On Saturday, Caitlin Quarrington @CaitlinQuarr gives a shout out to ACTUA team for organizing a jam-packed, community building engaging conference! We jump into the morning discussing and setting short-term and long-term F.A.S.T. goals. Time was embedded to continue making connections with educators and partners to engage in discussions about #STEM learning for youth in rural and urban communities across Canada. The fireside group discussion with Ontario educators and partners provided an opportunity for delivering/offering teacher PD using the S.W.O.T. model.

Looking forward to continuing discussions and connecting with network partners from University outreach programs!

The last night in Ottawa, I experienced my first escape room with a great crew! We broke-out with time to spare, reflect and share some laughs. @JigsawEscape at the Byward Market Sq.

Again, grateful for the invitation, the opportunity to share and learn; and looking forward to following up on discussions, idea sharing and planning together.

Monday, December 9, 2019

Skype-A-Thon 2019

Just had to share because students are still talking about this in our class community :)

Participating in the Skype-A-Thon #SkypeAThon annual event, also known as the Microsoft Global Learning Connection #MSFTGlobalConnect is always filled with excitement, wonder and curiosity! I am proud to be taking part in these events for four years now, and each year, our class community @McM_MsT is eager to take part in more opportunities to make local and global connections.  

Each year varies on the number of connections we make, unfortunately this year, we were unable to connect with two of the classes during the event but a follow up Mystery Skype date has been set. We were fortunate to virtually meet with Alec Taylor, the Vice President of Microsoft Canada  @MicrosoftEduCA who generously gave us the gift of his time and responding to student questions, while encouraging student learning with a growth mindset!

There are so many wonderful extensions to Skype-A-Thon that include Skype-A-Scientist and Skype Classroom events that are all free to build relationships with students, educators and experts worldwide! For more information, check out: and

Students are inspired by experts as their share words of wisdom and students reflect on comments which they have found very inspiring when recommended to find their own networks and supports around the world to lift themselves and others up.

I, I mean, we can’t wait for Skype-A-Thon next year and more readily, our next Mystery Skype! 

Thursday, September 12, 2019

In Anticipation of WE Day 2019

During summer break, I don’t usually receive emails or messages from students or parents. However, when I checked-in on my TDSB email, I was surprised to receive warm and kind parent emails from the last school year sharing their appreciation of infusing empathy, student voice and agency as part of the class culture and learning throughout the school year.

One such way this happens is through our social entrepreneurship journey which is about unpacking the curriculum, immersing student learning experiences with a Global Competency focus on Creativity, Inquiry and Entrepreneurship while leveraging technology. Through these learning experiences student voice is amplified as they have a broader venue for spreading awareness around empowering students locally and globally through education.

Guiding students through the Design Thinking Process, infusing the importance of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Global Competencies students internalize their role as social entrepreneurs: “We hope you are truly motivated to help us make a change both locally and globally” as you purchase our products, knowing that proceeds will be donated to Their journey posted via social media under two different class twitter accounts sharing their thoughts and following their learning journey: @mcm_mst and @mcmbusinessday 

I am grateful to organizations and business partners who continue create opportunities to build partnerships with educators to support our young social entrepreneurs. Fair Chance Learning @FCLEdu @WEmovement @MicrosoftEduCA @TheLearningPartnership @tdsb


In anticipation of WE Day Toronto 2019 I asked a student from the last school year to share her reflection on the impact of attending WE Day had on her learning throughout the school year.

Amira, Grade 4 Student

Going to WE Day was a wonderful experience. It was a great way to learn about a lot of new people and  hear their side of stories and what effect they had on others. It really made me think and understand about what some people are going through in other parts of the world. We had a moment of silence to contemplate all of the children whose voice can not be heard.

During the day; We were introduced to Craig and Marc Kielburger and Mr Pinball Clemons. Their  were also some really inspiring people talking on stage like, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Adam Devine, Ann Curry, Ms Piggy and so much more plus lots of singing, dancing and smiles! 

When we got back to school the next day, we talked with our peers about our experience and what we had learned, and we used that new learning to launch our Business Day project. Business Day is a day where there are about six companies all with their own concept and product. Our goal was to raise money through ME to WE to help build a school for children in Tanzania who don’t have access to education.
As a result of Business Day we not only learned about the children in Tanzania who need access to education to end the cycle of poverty but we also learned about becoming entrepreneurs; to go through the process of getting an interview and how to start a business. This knowledge will help us all in the future to either getting a job or starting our own business and making a difference in our community.

What I love about WE is that they’re not giving a hand out, but a hand up. As a charity, they try to teach the people living here and other parts of the world  how to be sustainable, so when their work is done the families living there can keep living sustainably.

WE day is an amazing experience and I think everyone should be able to experience it for themselves and to bring back to their class communities.

Our social entrepreneurship project has just celebrated its 15th year. It continues to grow as student experiences are shared, feedback is provided and impact reflected upon to revisit and revamp when guiding a new class community of leaders through this venture.

“We are Grade 4 student members of McMurrich Junior Public School, participating in our 15th annual Business Day event. Business Day is where our class community learns about being entrepreneurs and philanthropists. We raise money for WE Movement, by providing a product or service that we create and design to selling in our school community. We are learning about children living in Tanzania, how to arrange data, working in a team, learning about first impressions, how to do interviews, writing letters, and developing our soft skills among other things. Our products relate to STEM-inspired activities we are learning in class in a creative and innovative way. This year for we are raising money for the Pillars Of Education, supporting children living in Tanzania who need access to schools for an education. We are also focussing on the UN Convention on the Rights of a Child and the UN Sustainable Development Goals to spread awareness about their importance in protecting our global community.” - Student Team Folded Factory, our class community and partners around the world continue to provide a platform, big or small, for students to share their voice. Student agency is encouraged, with or without the spotlight, as they see themselves as leaders with pride, passion and purpose; knowing that they are making an impact in the lives of others, through their choices and actions.

When reflecting on our daughter’s grade 4 school year, we always marvel at the amount of “real world” exposure. The WE Day festival in the fall was eye opening for Amira. Amidst the spectacle of the event, the core message of giving back to those in need was definitely taken to heart. Amira has always had an understanding of giving back, but WE Day and the subsequent Business Day project gave her an in-depth understanding of ‘business for good’. As parents we were constantly impressed with the depth and breadth of experience: from the interviews, the planning, project management, team work, and the final event. At any point one of us would be saying something along the lines of, “wow, I wish some adults I work with had these skills!” We know that these lessons will carry through as Amira continues as a student and more importantly, prepare her for life outside of school.
Parents - Jing and Frederick

I truly have the honour and privilege to learn, teach and grow with students in our class community. Students who see themselves as change agents; who act upon their learning and choices by recognizing they have the ability to bring about change through the smallest of actions. I look forward to the new opportunities that students embark upon this new school year.