Creating Excellent Learning Environments: Launching the Daily 5/CAFE

CaptureCreating Excellent Learning Environments: Launching the Daily 5/CAFE


What’s So Great About Twitter

By @mSchlemko & @sahlinvic

Do you want to … 

  • Learn from others by extending your personal learning network (PLN)?
  • Keep up to date on current research, trends and news?
  • Get new ideas about what you are passionate about?
  • Get feedback from peers and experts?
  • Connect and collaborate with others around the world?

Twitter is an excellent social media device that allows you to do all of this in an instant.

Video: Twitter in 60 Seconds

What my Connections on Twitter Means to Me

by Alec Couros via flickr
  • Daily professional development
  • Help and support from my peers and experts
  • Chat groups based on my needs and areas I would like to grow and contribute
  • Answers/feed back from peers that understand the challanges of the education field
  • Connections for me and my classroom to the world
  • Social Connections with others you wish also taught in your building

Others Thoughts

Traci Landry (@tlandrydtsd)
11-08-22 2:29 PM I think being on twitter is like attending the best conference in the world and you get to pick the speakers.

Beth Still – What My Connection on Twitter Means to Me – Blog entry, June 8, 2011

Useful Twitter Links

twitter 2

Twitter for Educators:  A Beginners Guide

28 Ways Teachers are Using Twitter in the Classroom

Welcome to The Twitter4Teachers Wiki!

Digital Citizenship

Livebinder 7 Habits of Digital Citizenship

What do you need to think about as far as digital citizenship for ourself and for your students?

Where to Go Next

How do you see Twitter benefiting you personally, professionally and your school?

School discussion – Should your school allow Twitter to be accessible in your building?

What would be the purpose of Twitter in your school?

What are the foreseeable benefits and risks?

Parent Communication To vs With

10 Suggestions for Twitter in Public School

Defending from Twitter Overload

How to Get Started with Twitter and Building Your PLN

Video: Twitter for Teachers – Part 1 – Setting up Your Twitter Account

Twitter for Teachers – Part 1 from shannon smith on Vimeo.

Video:Twitter for Teachers – Part 2 – Creating Your Twitter Profile, Sending a Tweet and Replying to a Tweet.

Twitter for Teachers – Part 2 from shannon smith on Vimeo.

Video: Twitter for Teachers – Part 3 – Retweeting, Favorites and adding to your PLN

Twitter for Teachers – Part 3 from shannon smith on Vimeo.

IREC’s Excellent Learning Environments Journey

photoAs a school division our  (AISI) Alberta Initiative for School Improvement initiative is to create Excellent Learning Environment for all learners. We are in the first year of a three year cycle for this goal. In year one, our goal is to obtain a working knowledge of the 12 ELEs. This means that we can have a conversations around the ELEs, understand the vocabulary and be able to visualize what each component would look like in a classroom. In year two and three, we will dive even deeper into further creating Excellent Learning Environments in our classrooms.


Excellent Learning Environments (ELEs) are:


Where are we at?

As a school we felt we have a good working knowledge of the 12 ELEs. This is due, in part, to the past 4 AISI cycles providing us  knowledge and understanding around many of the 12 components one at a  time. Therefore, each Professional Learning Team (PLT) has  chosen  one ELE   to work on deepening their understanding, building their skill set and exploring their new knowledge. Each teams goals are posted in the previous post  IREC Education Plan 2012-2013 Goal 2.


As a school we have chosen to research and implement new knowledge around ELE #1 – Culture and Expectations.

As well as, gain new knowledge and a better working understanding in ELE #4 – Planning; Utilizing a Backwards Design Framework.

Culture and Expectations:AISI 6

When we discuss culture and expectations we don’t only mean are the students happy and safe (which we truly know is important).  We are  also discussing is the classroom and the school set up in a way that allows teachers the time to work with students individually or in a small group setting. Do the other children have meaningful learning activities to take part in? Have they worked together with their class to build their independence and their excellent work habits? Is their differentiated learning opportunities for all learning needs?


As the AISI Leader I am fortunate to attend monthly AISI meetings where we have the opportunity to do in depth learning and hands on activities to build my understanding of each ELE. This allows me to bring the knowledge that our leadership team identifies as a need for us back to our staff. I work very closely with the other members of our leadership team to plan and carry out professional learning opportunities for our staff. We meet on a regular basis to plan and discuss how we are doing within our own school setting.

2011-2012 Reflecion

U21C Reflection – Jen Walton

I am very happy to have been involved in our school’s U21C project. I have changed from a reluctant and infrequent user of technology to a firm believer that it has an important place in my classroom!

Class blogging has changed my communication with parents significantly. I no longer send paper newsletters on a monthly basis because parents can check on our activities daily if they wish. Parents have commented that they prefer the immediate form of communication that they can refer back to instead! Students are also sharing their work and experiences differently with their parents because our blog is a conversation starter at home as well as a gallery of our work. Parents and students both love seeing the smiling faces of kids in action, right on the day of a great event!

Using SSDZ and personal devices is empowering to students. Activities requiring a device can now be planned at any time, not just when I am booked into the computer lab. Students are able to recognize how to use their device as a “TOOL, NOT A TOY”, and they understand what type of activities are for learning and which ones are purely for enjoyment at home.

One caution I do have is to be sure that students are still familiar with more traditional tools and skills (such as using alphabetical order in a dictionary or a phone book) as they are still needed in life and as a part of our curriculum. I feel it is very important that we do not ignore those outcomes that technology might miss – because sometimes your brain is the right tool, not an iPod or a computer.

Overall, my journey with U21C has been positive. I have now presented to my colleagues for the first time, and I feel that I do have something to offer! I am looking forward to the next steps along this path, and I hope to have my students creating and using their own blogs very soon as a means of extending their learning and showcasing their skills.

U21C Reflection – Melanie Quance

Class Blogging

  • We were able to keep in touch with other bloggers our age and see what is going on in their classrooms – Mrs. Laszuk, Ms.VanMaarion, Kathy Cassidy, etc.
  • Great opportunity for students to do some writing – creating comments for other class/student blogs.
  • A lot of fun to see our own projects/pictures/events displayed on the class blog.
  • Parents felt they were more in touch with the classroom events.  Provided parents the opportunity to generate a discussion with their child about the events of school and send us a comment.

Planning and Instruction

  • Provides a variety of opportunity for students to explore and show what they know.  New devices and approaches to showing understanding has been a lot more engaging for students.
  • Differentiated instruction – provides a lot of opportunity for the variety of levels of knowledge of students in the classroom.  Additional support/resources for students with various needs (ESL, low exposure to reading, high achievers).
  • Teacher plans more often include a technology/student device element in them.


  • Excited about researching on the internet.
  • More willing to explore and take risks with the technology then some adults.
  • Generates more ideas for how to show what you know.
  • IT IS FUN!!

U21C Reflection – JoAnne VanMaarion

  • Successes of Digital citizenship – students know alot about being safe on line and keeping personal information confidential. 
  • Class blogging – students are excited to see their work and VOICE online.  A great way to share with family, grandparents, other classrooms, etc.  Parents feel more informed and see snippets of life in the classroom.  Great way to share. 
  • I feel that my own technology has grown exponetially.  I do feel that a challenge we have in grade one is that we are the starting building blocks for everything, and we have to find balance with everything.  It takes time to do the blogging/digital citizenship.  We just need to make sure that everything that we are doing has purpose and keep what is important.  The tech project has been great.  Looking forward to seeing what this year brings.
  • In grade one, we haven’t gone through the process with students bringing devices yet.  We may consider that this year???

U21C Reflection – Tracy Wirtanen

  • Last year I was fortunate to participate in our school’s U21C project. One of the things our leadership team was able to do, was to create and maintain classroom blogs. Being a technology novice,  I was instantly amazed by the benefits and reaction to this “new” communication tool in my classroom. Students were highly motivated to extend their learning, and participate in online discussions through commenting. Our students were not only working on basic literacy skills, but they werealso practicing their good “digital citizenship” habits on a regular basis.  Parents expressed a great deal of appreciation for this convenient, frequently updated communication.  Other teachers, and blog followers around the world, began to make connections with our classroom through the blog. This was not only a great motivator for my students, but also aided in their understanding of global citizenship. After our U21C team had a solid understanding of basic blogging, our team was given the opportunity to mentor other teachers on staff.  Within this comfortable, supportive, team atmosphere, our fellow staff members quickly realized the numerous educational benefits of this technology, as they started their own journey into the blogging world.



We Have Come So Far In Developing a 21st Century Learning Enviornment

Wow! What an amazing year it has been. We have been working on our Understanding 21st Centery Learning project for 12 months now. We have made significant gains increase creativity, collaboration, and critical thinking into our classrooms K-4.

Students are enjoying and motivated to work on the computers, iPads, iPods, and laptops in a variety of subject areas. They have no fear and will try anything. We have given them really solid lessons and practice on appropriate use and digital citizenship skills, now it is time to get out of their way.

We have just come back from Spring Break and we are checking the list:

  • Taught the 7 Habits of Digital Citizenship Check
  • Students have taken home the Digital Citizenship contracts, completed the at home portion and returned them to school – Check
  • We have a school division Acceptable Use Policy in place – Check
  • We have written a letter to explain to parent that we are moving towards a classroom environment that will support their child’s learning in the 21st Century and provide them with the skills of today – Check
  • The School Division has all schools supported with a wireless interface – Check
  • We have had teachers using wireless devices of all types to get comfortable and use to managing them – check
  • We have written a contract  for students to bring their own devices to school – Check
  • We have written a contract for students to have their own email and blog – Check
  • We have brainstormed and planned for anything that we can think of that might go wrong and have a list of Frequently Asked Questions – Check
  • We have read other teachers thoughts and plans for BYOD. (BYOD in Primary by @techang) – Check
  • We are ready – Check

Where do we go now?

  1. We send home the letter and contracts with students in classrooms as the teachers are ready for this big step.
  2. We teach/model/believe that our devices are tools not toys.
  3. We plan for the use of devices in curricular support activities that will enhance the students learning opportunity.
  4. We share with each other and around the world what is working and what we need to fix. WE COLLABORATE!

21st Century Learning – Project Update

Students at Iron Ridge Elementary have been showing an increase in engagement and learning as we have been moving into a 21st Century Learning Environment. Students and staff have been working hard to build their Digital Citizenship skills. We developend a program called 7 Habits of Digital Citizenshipto help support our staff with lesssons designed to teach effective digital citizenship. We have also been building classroom blogs and communicating with other classrooms around the world about their learning. As well, students are being provide more opportunities to use Web 2.0 tool to demonstrate their learning and more opportunities for showing their learning using technology.

How is this impacting our students?

It is always exciting to share success stories!

One day in early November I had a mother stop me in the hall and begin talking about our grade two blog.  The parent was very impressed with how it was/is encouraging her daughter to learn to write.  This particular student comments on our classroom blog on a daily basis(from home).  She is a competent student but the fact that she is thinking about her learning, commenting about her successes and even encouraging her classmates is engaging her more and more.  This was exemplified one day when we were talking in class about our blog and one student said she couldn’t do this at home.  So, my engaged student offered to hang out after school and show her how to make a comment.  Both girls did there ‘homework’ together right after school that day.

The students in grade one learn about seasons.  We had posted a global comment, asking other viewers to tell us what the weather was like in thier part of the world.  One of our replies came from Australia, from a grandparent of one of our classmates.  It was exciting for us to learn, that it is winter here in Alberta, but summer and NO SCHOOL in January, in Australia.

A student that needs literacy supports was given the ipad to practice an alphabet learning game.  Now, daily, this child asks if she can practice the alphabet bingo game.  This engagement has helped her to learn her alphabet letters in record speed. This is also the same student, that is able to answer anything about digital citizenship.

What road blocks are we facing?

Here at our school our road block in the model below is becasue of our web filter.

Is this block something that we can find a solution to? Yes, after successfully teaching 7 Habits of  Digital Citizenship to all children in our school and having families thoroughly understand digital cititzenship through our at home activites and contracts we can adjust our web filter. This would allow students and staff to freely use educational web sites to enhances teaching and students learning opportunities.

Audience = Engagement

Presented at ATLE 2011:


 Maureen Schlemko @mSchlemko and Vicky Sahlin @sahlinvic

“Technology doesn’t improve education – TEACHERS improve education” – Shareski, ATLE 10
Will Richardson: My Kids Are Illiterate. Mostly Likely Yours Are Too

Leadership Matters

Building Teacher Capacity by:

1. Building upon what your school already does

2. Awareness of the leadership & management balance

  • Leadership: 0-1 Learning:  Roberts, 2001
    What relationship/trust building needs to be done for learning to move forward?

Photo posted by badash from

  • Management: 1-2 Learning
    As a leader, what skills to you need?
    What structures need to be in place? for classroom/ school/ district/ network?

  • Learning: 2-10

Digital Citizenship –

 We cannot teach digital citizenship without modeling it.

Blogging with Students

Benefits and Reasons for Blogging with Students

1. Creates a positive digital footprint and provides the opportunity to teach digital citizenship – students today need to understand what affect their digitial footprint has on their life as they grow up and try to enter the work force. Starting at a very young age it is important for us to model, teach and create the opportunity for our students to be building their own postive digital footprint.

2. Communicating with digital tools – helping to build technology skills.

3. Transparency for parents and family – classroom and individual blogging opens the doors to our school, our classrooms and each individuals own learning journey. This mode of communication allows parents to become part of their students learning life, to participate by reading and commenting on their students work. It also opens the doors to the classroom 24/7. It allows parents and students to interact with classroom happenings at a time that works best for them creating a community feel.

4. Provides an authentic audience for student writing an audience of peers, parents, and a potentially people from all over the world. Allows for multiple feedback loops among the networked students, teachers and other interested parties. Learning in a class blog setting is now a social activity.Students are eager to write for an audience that will be interested and comment on their work. They will also have the urgency to do their best work because it is going to be seen by an audience.

5. Supports differentiation. The blog gives some of our more verbally reserved students a forum for their thoughts. It encourages reading. To make a meaningful comment, or to choose their favorite post, the students first need to read what’s out there. It encourages writing so that your ideas can be read by others. A good blog post can be 3 sentences to 3 pages or anywhere in between, it can include video or pictures to help explain the message, as long as you can make your point your post is effective.

6. Students view of the world changes – we have included a clustr map into the sidebar of our classroomm bolg. This allows us to see where people are visiting from.

Examples of class and individual student blogs.

Classroom Blog – Mrs. Sahlin’s Grade Three Class

Student Blog-

Student Blog –

For example: My 6 year old daughter is in a classroom that has a class blog. One day she comes home and asks me if she can start her own blog. I asked her what she would blog about. She replied with “Things that I learn.” We started her blog after her hounding me for days. He first blog was on ‘Dancing’ which is a passion of hers. She sat down at the computer typed her blog asking how to spell a few words and then told me she was ready for me to read it. We went over it, me reading it aloud to her and her adding a couple of words that she missed. Then we got to have a conversation about capital letters that was not painful in the least becasue she was excited and engages. We went on the web together to find a picture that would be appropriate for her post and we posted her blog. I then used my fantastic Twitter and Facebook connections and asked for #comments for kids. By the next day she had 7 comments on her blog.

What is she learning from this: Positive digital footprint, how to write and comment, appropriate edicate because now she has 7 comments to reply back to and thank them as well as answering their questions, digital citizenship skills, a sense of the global world as one of her comments were from outside of our country and how to use new web tools. I think as a parent and a teacher that this was a pretty good use of a half of an hour of her free time.

How to get Started Blogging

How to Integrate Blogging into your Curriculum

The Importance of a PLN and Twitter for Expanding Your Audience Globally