Digital Citizenship Week

Happy Digital Citizenship week. While I don’t philosophically believe in dedicating just one week to what I believe should be a part of our daily practice, it’s a great way to draw attention to the ways in which we are helping teachers and students understand how to behave in ethical and responsible ways online. I think of this week as a springboard for an entire year of opportunity to contextualize learning around digital citizenship!

Beyond Cybersafety

I am very heartened to see that many schools and teachers are moving beyond a fear-mongering-stay-off-the-internet approach to keeping kids safe online. I still get chills when I think of young Charlotte (whom I feature in Social LEADia) being told that her “parents must not love her” because they let her create a website inviting people to share their favourite books. I know we still have a long way to go, but showing students how they can contribute positively and creatively in online spaces is happening with greater frequency.

For example, it is good to see the new ISTE Citizen standards have included some of the wisdom that many educators have been sharing for a while now and shift towards positive. This week might be a great time to have a look at  the Standard Statements, reflective questions, and tips. Here is an example from the Educator standards:

Educators inspire students to positively contribute to and responsibly participate in the digital world.

a. Create experiences for learners to make positive, socially responsible contributions and exhibit empathetic behavior online that build relationships and community. 

Educators inspire students to positively contribute to and responsibly participate in the digital world.

b. Establish a learning culture that promotes curiosity and critical examination of online resources and fosters digital literacy and media fluency

c. Mentor students in safe, legal and ethical practice with digital tools and the protection of intellectual rights and property. 

Beyond Digital Citizenship

One of the things I try to do in Social LEADia, is share the stories of kids who are “using the vast reach of technology and social media to improve the lives, well-being, and circumstances of others (Couros, 2013).  They do this by learning and sharing learning, by empowering others without a voice, and by being a more positive influence on others. You may argue that not all students can be leaders and so focusing on positive digital citizenship is a better approach. And I would agree, but digital leadership is about leading change and about putting ownership in the hands of students. It is about forging a new path for others to follow. Not everyone can change the world, but we all have the power to change the world of another person.

This idea came through loud and clear in the panel discussion for Edumatch which I had the honour of moderating to launch Digital Citizenship week with Nancy Watson of ISTE’s @DigCitPLN.  I brought together educators and students I feature in the book for a conversation around using social media and inspiring kids to make a difference. You can watch it here:

Resources and ideas:

  1. I encourage you beginning this week to have a look at the accounts of the students on this Twitter list and to check out the blogs & websites of these student leaders, while also taking a look at your own school community or classroom for kids who are inspiring others to action both online and offline.

By showing our students examples of kids who are leading (as Darren Pamayah does with his students), we show students role models they may never otherwise see if they are following celebrities and cat videos online.


2. Check out these quick visual tips created by Kathleen Currie Smith based on Chapter 7 of Social LEADia

3. Check out these Digital Citizenship Lessons in Two Minutes or Less by Nancy Watson.

4. Check out @DigCitKids ideas here.

5. Check out the various resources I have curated for Chapter 7 which are sure to help you all year long.


Please share your own stories and your action plan in the comments below.

Happy Digital Citizenship week!



ISTE Standards FOR EDUCATORS. (n.d.). Retrieved October 15, 2017, from

Change, Hope, and Thanksgiving

This morning, I woke up and found World War III trending on Twitter. Thankfully, it was far below, Thanksgiving, Happy Thanksgiving Monday, and Thanksgiving Canada.

But still, it was on the list and as people continue to click on it and retweet it, it will edge itself higher and higher.

As one of many educators who advocates for the use of social media in the classroom, it gave me slight pause. And for a nano-second, I allowed it to make me waver. I reached out to my friend, George Couros about it, he reminded me that “the only way to fix things is to change them, not ignore them.” This is one of the many reasons why I value him so much in my life!

Social media has been a transformative force in my teaching and my practice. It has been such a positive influence on the lives of teachers and students who leverage it for good.

We can cite such an instance as yet another reason to shy away from these platforms, or we can think about the fact that there is a whole generation of kids out there who have grown up on their own on social media, without adult mentoring.  I remind myself of the many students I know who are making the world a better place and using social media and technology to spread the message. Joshua Williams is one of them:


This is the future I choose to see. This is the future that is possible. On this Canadian Thanksgiving I am grateful for a community of learners who spread goodness and hope!

Social media & Tragedy

At 10 pm Central time last night, I was sitting in the Las Vegas airport waiting to board my flight home. I heard a particular sound like a round of ammunition firing, but surely I was mistaken; there are slot machines in the Las Vegas airport and what I was hearing was probably a peculiar version of a game. I’ve never been so wrong. I am still processing what happened and writing this is helping me to do that.

It had been an incredible weekend. I was honoured to present at the Cue Nevada conference. I met an amazing bunch of educators from Nevada and beyond, connected with so many people in my PLN, met some awesome students from the area who volunteered to help with the conference, and were on the student panel. I tweeted out my take-aways and captured a few moments on Instagram and Snapchat. I mention this because it means that my friends, family, and PLN knew I was in Vegas for the weekend.

That evening, the presenters were invited to dinner where we shared a few laughs and some camaraderie. I learned much about the Nevada schools from  the presenters there. My friend, Heidi Carr (who spearheading the organization of the conference) and I spent the day on Sunday as tourists. We visited the Hoover Dam, did a little shopping, checked out a few casinos and watched a Cirque de Soleil show. As she showed me  the sights in her beautiful city, I exclaimed, “How cool that you can choose to come downtown and experience this fun and excitement whenever you want to.”

En route to the airport, we saw a throng of people and heard the live Country Music playing. We paused and I opened my window to hear the music. In that moment, I caught sight of a young couple, in denim and cowboy boots walking towards the show. I don’t know what made me stop and study the young woman so intently: so obviously in love, so obviously enjoying the sights of Las Vegas as I had been, her eyes and hair shining brightly. Her silhouette now etched in my mind forever.

When we boarded the plane, we were told there was an incident that would prevent us from departing. A few whispers about a shooting started to spread. When I sat down, I jumped on Twitter and literally saw the events unfold.

We were asked to disembark the plane as we likely going to be grounded until morning. One of the passengers said that many concert goers had moved towards active runways so the airport had to literally shut down. Another passenger suggested that because we were so close to the venue, there was a concern of gunshots towards the plane. I have no idea how true any of this speculation was. I was, for all intents and purposes in the safest place in the city, but I felt nothing but safe.

We were called back to board the plane a short time after. They had apprehended the suspect and the airport was again operating. There was, by now a line up of planes on the tarmac looking for permission to take off. So many of the passengers started to contact loved ones, knowing that with the time difference, our families and friends in Toronto would be worried and we would be in the air and unreachable to assure them of our safety. I had a half-finished Instagram post for which I needed to now change the message.

I was disheartened by the tweets I was seeing. The tweets ranged in nature and included:

-“live” updates from news outlets

-an outpouring of concern and prayers

-political commentaries which were highly charged

-gratitude for the first responders: police, firefighters, and others

-the spreading of mis-information and inconsistent reports

-families asking to confirm the whereabouts of a loved one

-the posting of extremely sensitive materials

-information for blood donation sites 

-the creation of new accounts (Twitter bots) to spread hateful propaganda.

It is the good and the bad of social media  humanity. I used social media to ensure that my family and friends knew I was safe, and also received messages like this one from my favourite student:

And though I was safe, we now know how many families are being impacted by last night’s events.

Today, the children, who became so real to me and the educators in whom they are entrusted had to ensure that children feel safe in their own homes. This is no small task. If ever was a time to make the positives so loud, the negatives are impossible to hear (George Couros), it is now. People are hurting enough.  We need to ensure that what we share in person and on social media about any event, particularly a tragedy such as this, is accurate, and hopeful and that it inspires action to help (there is a need for donating blood for example).

When we have a class social media account, we can control what we see for our students. When we follow accounts like those listed on my Twitter lists, it is unlikely that kids will see any of the aftermath of this event or the ugliness that can be seen on Twitter. This, however, is not true for the kids who are accessing social media on their own or who are just talking about what they know on the playground. And this worries me.

So here are a few things that may help as we try to make sense of this tragedy and support our students to feel safe and empowered.

Reflect on News

Use it as an opportunity to talk about sharing only verified information and what credible news looks like. I saw this posted by Kathleen Currie Smith on Facebook and really appreciate her approach:

She says,

Today we learned of the devastating and sad news in Las Vegas and we keep the victims and their families in our thoughts. 

It is important to remember to be smart news consumers as events and facts are unfolding. Here are some tips:

1. Do not be constantly tuned in to the news, check in several times throughout the day. 

2. Check several credible news sources, do not solely* rely on social media for information.

3. Confirm that news outlets are reporting the same thing. Remember, news is a competition, they are trying to be the first to have the breaking story and while they strive to get it right, sometimes they make mistakes in their rush to be first.

4. DO NOT spread conspiracy theories or speculations on social media. Do NOT spread “fake news.” This hurts your reputation (your digital footprint) and harms society as a whole.

Bring Hope and take Hopeful action:

As educators (and as adults), we need to be creative and hopeful for our kids. We need to be constructive not destructive. We need to use every face to face and online opportunity to spread love, hope and hopeful action.

I think back to the Happy Jar activity I talk about in Social LEADia where Sara McCleod and her students, when they knew of a tragedy in Northern Saskatchewan, rallied to try to do something to take action to help, by creating a Happy Jar (I learned about it on Twitter and participated by adding my own inspiring message via Google Form on Twitter). They then delivered it to the community. When kids gather together for a common cause, it often strengthens the bonds within your own classroom and provides a hopeful outlet to their grief.

Hospitals need blood donated and there is a GoFund me account for victims. If students are particularly struck by the events, creating posters to rally help may just be helpful for them as well. Or how about thank you cards to the police force or emergency workers?

Ensure students feel safe and pay attention to children who worry

My daughter is a worrier.  We “protected” our daughter by trying to shelter her from any news and sometimes it worked. Other times, it was worse because other kids would share false information which made her more scared. At the end of the day, I think taking the approach that ensures kids feel safe in their classroom is best. But let’s face it, we aren’t trained to be counsellors (even though we so often are) This resource, Helping Children Cope  with useful links may help you to support students in need. If you know of others, I would love to hear about them.


I can’t stop thinking about those concert-goers who were just enjoying themselves. I think about how it could have easily been me or one of the people or loved ones of the many people I met this weekend. And I can’t stop thinking about and wondering where that young woman is today and if she is safe.

I know I will be hugging my family extra tightly today and trying to spread the positive as much as I can.

*I added the word solely

Breakout EDU for the Win!

I often blog about my bad days or my short-comings or my learning reflections (often about social media). Today I am writing to share my awesome day!

I decided to change my Library Orientation into a Breakout EDU.  A few teacher-librarians I know had done this, Thanks (Nikki Robertson & Shauna Young for sharing). Last year, I was brand-new and advised to keep Orientation as is (I did make it mine and added a Kahoot), but I was not happy with it at all.

My goals?

Introduce students to the services and resources I offer in the Library by allowing them to DISCOVER these through fun, interactive challenges.  So I hid puzzles in books, created posters with hidden clues and got them to answer questions on a Google Form which revealed their word-combination when they submitted the form. It was a really nice mix of traditional and digital Breakout components.  I am not going to lie, I was super nervous. You see, unlike a classroom teacher, I have no real rapport with these students coming into the Library. I don’t know their names or their learning needs.

I used two boxes (so really I created 2 different but similar games) and was very explicit about the fact that everyone had to participate and that students could not go to the next lock before helping everyone else along. Literally every student was working on it. I was giddy! There was such a positive energy and such great collaboration. Some of the students I thought I might have to prod to participate, completely surprised me!

It provided an entry point for a variety of different learners, got them out of their seats, and then back on task, and at the end of the time, they felt the exhilaration of success (and got a lollipop 🙂 )

Here is what Group A clues looked like.

How often do students thank you at the end of a class? Well, today, the whole class thanked me, and several students came up to me separately to thank me.

At the end, I made a point of asking them questions about what they learned and I would say it was equal, if not MORE than the learning shared last year during a web-search-type Orientation.

Here is a post I wrote several years ago: Critical Thinking and Problem Solving: Escape Room in Education, which is the most viewed ever on my website. It is still as relevant today as it was then.

If you haven’t tried Breakout EDU or Breakout EDU digital, you definitely need to!

New Learning is Hard

I recently created an e-book which I would like to offer to people who subscribe to my blog.

After several recommendations, Matt Miller suggested Mail Chimp. Perfect and easy enough, right?

Well, maybe not. He gave me an overview of how he used it and told me how to get started and he suggested Google Slides for the e-book. And so I set out to work on it. I read the instructions, watched the tutorials. I spent soooo much time working on creating it to my satisfaction.  I then asked friends and my husband to test it.

You may be thinking right now, really? You are supposed to be tech-savvy. I am, but new learning is always hard for me. Is it for you?

I walked away several times and then came back to it. I must admit that I cursed a few times. I obviously wanted it to look good because potentially many people would see it.

Through it all I wondered:

How often do we ask our learners (students and staff) to Create, Iterate, Tweak, Publish, for an authentic audience? 

What opportunities do we give students to learn things which are challenging and yet achievable? (think Vygotsky’s theory of proximal development)

What is their motivation to see it through? How might we create opportunities for intrinsic motivation?

How often do we jump in with the answers, penalize, or criticize our learners for not readily “getting it” when they are learning something new?

How do we encourage and make time for the feedback loop so learners can make what they are working on better?

Click here to subscribe to check out the finished product and to receive the free e-book I created to help you empower students to leverage social media for digital leadership.

If you have any feedback for me, please provide it in the comments.

Be critical of ideas, not people.

As someone who is advocating for the use of social media with students, I am somewhat disheartened by the way I have seen educators speak to one another; especially lately.

It is healthy (and necessary) to engage in critical discourse about ideas, but it is never ok to attack people and get personal. It is also not ok to “subtweet”. If you are going to insult someone personally, not including their name, does not make it ok.

One of the things I advocate in the classroom is to consider multiple perspectives before taking any conversation to social media.  Do we remember that there are people at the other end of our disdainful comments and criticisms? Do we consider the point of view of others?  How they might be affected? Are we careful to check our own biases?

Our kids are watching. Let’s be sure to set a good example.



Creating a Culture of Kindness

I spent all day yesterday curled up in a blanket reading Wonder, by R.J. Palacio. It is an older book, but I had never read it before and wanted to read it before the movie came out in November.

I cried about a dozen times. I didn’t make dinner or clean my house. I just read and read and cried. It made me think about several things.

  1. Kids have been cruel since the beginning of time
  2. Bullying usually happens under the radar of a teacher
  3. Many bystanders often don’t stand up to the person bullying for fear of reprisal

I have heard so many people saying that cell phones are banned at their school because of “cyberbullying”. And though I am not saying cyberbullying does not exist (it is so much easier to torment someone anonymously), I know that so much cruelty actually happens in person first.

I know this.

I lived this.

I was recently given the picture below by my mom. I have very few other photos of me from elementary school. If you look carefully, you may notice my eye is slightly off. All I remember about this very important day (In Catholicism, your first communion is an important sacrament. In an Italian family apparently you are supposed to look like a bride), is the hours the photographer had me pose until my eye looked somewhat “normal”. My dress was itchy and it was hot and because we didn’t have digital cameras back then he just took picture after picture hoping one would turn out ok (talk about sharing an edited version of yourself even back then).

I really didn’t stand a chance at fitting in or being popular. Although my face wasn’t “deformed” like the fictitious August Pullman, in the story Wonder, many people would often ask me what was wrong with me. Or “Why are you looking over there when I am right here?”  It didn’t help that I entered junior kindergarten not speaking a word of English and that I wore glasses with ultra-thick lenses. It also didn’t help that we didn’t have a lot of money and that my mom made many of my clothes.

So it’s no surprise that I spent many a day sitting by myself, the butt of every cross-eyed joke, taunted and humiliated for many, many years. My teachers’ responses over the years? Mostly teachers urged my classmates to “be nice to Jennifer”. That really helped. I remember one day in particular when a teacher urged people to play with me at recess. That was the day when my classmates invited me to play hide and go seek. I was “it” and it wasn’t until the end of recess that I realized that they were off secretly playing another game. Another incident that stands out in my memory is when our class got smelly markers for the first time. Remember those smelly markers? Do they still have them? I was invited to sniff a marker .  “Julia” went around a group of students inviting everyone to smell the blueberry marker, only when she got to me, she “slipped” and it went up my nose. An unfortunate accident which was utterly humiliating and had me sneezing blue for a week. The glint in her eye and the snickering of everyone around me showed me that there was nothing accidental about this incident. I could recount dozens of other stories which are etched in my memory.

All of those memories came flooding back when I read the book. Then I read the Professional Advisory put out by the Ontario College of Teachers: Responding to the Bullying of students which tackles bullying (both face to face and online), and includes a self-reflection assessment which poses some good questions.  These points resonated with me and can be applied to both online and offline situations:


Research shows that bullying stops in fewer than 10 seconds – 57 per cent of the time – when someone intervenes.15 Adult supervision and increased presence can prevent bullying. Intervene early and often so that students understand social responsibility and the importance of standing up for themselves and others.


How do I detect bullying?

How do I recognize power imbalances among students of all ages that might lead to bullying?

How do I spot behaviour occurring outside the classroom or online that affects students?

How do I respond to smaller, subtle acts such as verbal slights, use of derogatory language and cutting humour that may lead to more harmful behaviour?

How do I encourage students to safely disclose bullying behaviour?


My words and actions show that I treat students with care, respect, trust, and integrity and that I expect the same from them.

You can teach whatever content you want, but if students don’t feel safe and valued, it won’t matter. Taking time to create a culture of kindness in your classroom will help you save time in the long run.

A few ideas

RJ Palacio’s Precepts from the book, Wonder

The teacher in the book, Mr. Brown, asks his students to free-write based on precept prompts. Here are a couple of examples:

  • When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind.” —Dr. Wayne Dyer
  • “Your deeds are your monuments.” —Inscription on ancient Egyptian tomb
  • “Fortune favors the bold.” —Virgil
  • “No man is an island, entire of itself.” —John Donne

I really like this idea. Students could use Canva, Google Draw or a paper sketchnote to extend their idea and share and comment on one another’s ideas. They can share these  via the school and/or class social media accounts. They can find their own to share. This could become a weekly or monthly routine in the class.

Classroom Committees

My friend, Robert Cannone,  uses the idea of Classroom Committees. That is, student teams have responsibilities in the class on a rotating basis. They range from eco-team, to public relations team, to classroom design team. What impressed me most is how one of his students, Catherine, describes the experience based on the way Rob :

“Teams are like a puzzle, every person is a piece of the puzzle, and everyone is needed to complete the puzzle.”

Creating a culture in your classroom where everyone feels valued, can go a long way to supporting students who might be on the fringe of being accepted.

Compliment Wall, Kindness Cards

When I met Matt Soeth, from #ICANHELP he shared the power of a compliment wall which serves to create a positive culture in a school or classroom. The idea is that students create a physical board with post-it notes with compliments which students can take and share when they feel like someone needs it. You can extend this idea by creating kindness cards which students anonymously give each other; making note of which students are not receiving one. Extend both of these ideas virtually by inviting students to engage in kindness challenges online through their personal accounts or class social media accounts. If you posit social media of a place where you can “improve the lives, well-being, and circumstances of others (Couros, 2013), then that is the behaviour you will begin to see there.

Check out the resources I created to complement Chapter 10 of Social LEADiaInstil Empathy, Justice, and Character . where there are lots more ideas about creating a culture of kind in your class or school.

What are your ideas for creating a safe community within your classroom?

3 Ways to Save Today’s Generation

Do you honestly think that I am going to help you save our youth in this post? The real question is, do you, as many other adults believe today’s youth needs saving and the future is in tenuous hands?  Were you drawn to the title because it reaffirms your beliefs about this generation?

My post really should be called, 3 Ways we can address some problematic issues around cell phone and social media use.

I often share the example above. It is seemingly what people believe is wrong with today’s generation. And yet, the real story, is that the students were using the museum’s app to learn more about the painting. The media continues to circulate articles about how this is a lost generation. The most recent, an article in the Atlanta, Have Smartphones destroyed a Generation?

I was glad to see Patrick Larkin, a progressive and innovative superintendent, ask questions about the content of the article in this post to educators, We Need to Talk About Smartphones, and this post to families, rather than accepting it at face value and doing nothing.

The problem with these types of articles is they often paint issues around social media and cell phone use as very a black & white issues, and blame social media use for just about every ill in society. It then becomes so easy to share articles and bemoan the state of the world, rather than use our use our critical thinking lens.

In my book, Social LEADia, I assert that what we call an addiction to social media, is more a dependence not on the device itself, but the friends to which they provide access. This is a main theme of the research and work of danah boyd, in It’s Complicated.

The addiction narrative is quite strong throughout the parent and educator circles of which I am a part, and I am not saying that there isn’t truth to it. What I am saying, is that articles and posts which provide extreme points of view do not help!  Look at the article which literally states in its headline: Giving your child a smartphone is like giving them a gram of cocaine, says top addiction expert.

The article, published by the Independent also includes the subtitle, “Harley Street clinic director Mandy Saligari says many of her patients are 13-year old girls who see sexting as normal.” and of course, Ms Saligari has an extreme opinion on the matter, she only sees problem cases. My daughters and I had a very frank conversation about this idea which is not at all a reality for them and their friends.

What is revealed in near the end of the article is this:

“If children are taught self-respect they are less likely to exploit themselves in that way,” said Ms Saligari. “It’s an issue of self-respect and it’s an issue of identity.”

The real issue! Sending inappropriate pictures isn’t caused by having a smartphone.

So how to do unpack some of the issues so as to shed light on what we can do differently?

Use social media as a springboard to teach persuasive writing & critical thinking

A lesson I often did when I was teaching persuasive writing in English over a decade ago, was that I showed the students a letter that had been written to Ann Landers bemoaning today’s generation. It called youth selfish, stupid, and lazy. It went on to list everything that was wrong with youth (well before smartphones). Their assignment was to write a rebuttal using a variety of persuasive techniques.  The students were so offended and so were extremely happy to write back. One thing is clear: every generation believes the current generation to be inferior to theirs.

Show students some of the headlines,show them the articles. Then have students write a response to the source. Today, it is so much easier to send their letters to a real & authentic audience than it was back when I did this.

Another great thing to do is have students deconstruct the logical fallacies an article.   Noah Geisel did a great job deconstructing the article, Facebook and Twitter “harm young people’s mental health” in his post, “Can adults with college degrees fall for fake news too?

Start Conversations about Attention and Balance

I see a whole generation of kids who have been navigating online spaces almost exclusively on their own because we have refused to go there in school. Our current narrative prevents us from having conversations; instead we lecture and instill fear and teens, especially those at risk, retreat farther and farther away. Or we ban devices to avoid the problem altogether. And clearly, it’s not working for many.

This article shared by Kathleen Currie Smith, What Social Media and today’s generation did for my teenage daughter really gets at assumptions.  In it, the author talks about her concern with her daughter’s selfie-use and her apathetic friends, only to realize that she may have been wrong when her daughter is home sick and her “Snapchat” friends support her and cheer her up in ways she wouldn’t have imagined. This part stands out for me:

These kids proved me wrong over and over all week long. It was a humbling experience to say the least. Maybe all this technology, Snapchat, texting and selfies aren’t making them all crazy, self-centered bullies. It’s giving them access to each other in ways that we didn’t have growing up and maybe that’s not always a bad thing. I know that sometimes social media is abused and used in hateful ways but I’ve learned this week that sometimes it’s used in the sweetest, most generous ways.

Nonetheless, we know that balance, when it comes to cell phone use and social media are extremely important.

I really like this rubric (please do not use this as an evaluation tool) as a springboard for conversations with students about what fair and reasonable expectations look like. I know at my house, we do not allow phones at the dinner table or in the bedroom. These rules have been in place for years because as a family we value dinner conversations and sleep is extremely important for healthy kids and adolescents. Everything else is an in-the-moment conversation as needed.  A classroom is like a family and expectations that are co-constructed are extremely important for developing a healthy awareness of students’ own media use.

Use Digital Leadership as a framework for teaching and learning using social media

What if we looked at the devices in kids hands as opportunities to make the lives and circumstances of others better (George Couros). I’ve written a whole book on my ideas for this one because I have met so many students who are exceptional leaders in person, and who leverage social media and technology to lead the way for us. When I look at Joshua Williams, Olivia Van Ledtje, Curran Dee, Hannah Alper, Braeden Mannering Quinn, Aidan Aird, and the many other students  (follow them here) I have had the opportunity to get to know and others whom I continue to meet, I recognize that focusing on what our kids can be doing on social media will go a long way.

Together we can help students (who don’t already) see that they can use social media to:

  • Learn and share learning
  • Stand up for causes that are important to them
  • Be a more positive influence in the lives of others.

Let’s model what it means to be a positive force for change.

Let’s not take complex issues and over-generalize.

Let’s listen closely, ask critical and clarifying questions, and give our kids the benefit of the doubt once in a while.

You may be very surprised by what you see and learn.

I am confident that this generation of kids is more than alright; but like every generation before them, some of them just need some guidance from adult mentors.


Facebook for PD

I have been on Facebook for as long as I can remember.  It is where I connect with friends and family. It helps me keep track of birthdays and milestones. I know it tracks my posts because I get personalized ads & a memory pic every once and a while which usually makes me melt (even though it should concern me more than it does).

It HAS NOT been a place of learning. At least not until recently.

This despite the fact that George Couros and I, who have had lots of conversations about all things education over the years, challenged me to revisit my Facebook stance. I refused. I was perfectly happy keeping my personal personal on Facebook.  I was content to have my Twitter account completely professional, my Facebook entirely personal, and Instagram, well, that was where I was going to try a hybrid. But that was then. Now I know better.

Your social media experience is shaped by who and what you follow and your purpose. What I was doing was not wrong; it’s a personal preference, and though the nature of what I share is sometimes different, who I am does not change depending on the platform I am on. I am just me.

I have spent so much time and energy trying to bring people to Twitter. And once they realize how incredible Twitter is, they do love it. But over the years, I have also heard people tell me that they just didn’t get it. That the format didn’t fit with their learning style.

Personally, I felt like the connections I had made on Twitter and the learning that I was getting there was more than enough. Besides, I had an incredible, supportive Voxer group too. How much learning could a gal do, after all?

It turns out, I had been missing out on tons! I can still use Facebook for my personal connections, but I can also belong to groups based on my specific interests. In some ways, it’s similar to following a hashtag on Twitter, but in a Facebook group, only members of the group can comment which means you won’t have strangers jumping into the hashtag with their own agenda.

A few groups you may find interesting

The IMMOOC Facebook group, based on the Innovator’s Mindset MOOC, co-moderated by Katie Martin and George Couros , was the first group I joined that was educational. There are lots of resources shared about leadership and Innovation by people that I don’t necessarily follow on Twitter and who are awesome.

The Breakout EDU Facebook group provides a flurry of ideas and constructive feedback for people using pre-made games and/or creating their own.

The Future Ready Librarians group (9591 members) and School Librarian’s Workshop (4850 members) are simply AMAZING! I literally put out a question and get dozens of ideas and feedback. This is true for almost every post. Both are very active and supportive groups. But really, how could they not be. Teacher-Librarians rock!

The Edumatch group is an extension of the Edumatch legacy created by Sarah Thomas and made up of resourceful educators from around the world.

My Social LEADia page and  Facebook Group are an entirely new learning experience for me and I am very much enjoying the journey!

Here is what I’ve learned

(that many of you may have known for years).

  • I don’t have to be Facebook friends with people to participate or be a member of the group (unless I want to)
  • there is a difference between pages and groups
  • Facebook pages are being used by more and more schools because that’s where parents (and grandparents according to one school principal) are.
  • You can schedule a Facebook post in a group
  • You can share in just about any form (including Flipgrid) you like and there are no character limits.
  • Regardless of whether the group is public or private you still need to ask to join and need to be approved by a member (it can be any member).
  • There are groups for literally any subject area you can imagine.
  • Hootsuite is a platform that allows you to post to up to 3 social media accounts for free so I can share to Twitter, Facebook and Google + all at once.


If you tried Twitter and it just isn’t working for you, try a Facebook group. Once you play and learn there, consider the extent to which a Facebook page or group may work for your school or class!

What is your favourite Facebook group for professional learning?

Talking social media and Digital Leadership (and #socialLEADia Book Giveaway)

One of the reasons I wrote, Social LEADia is I am passionate about sharing the message that social media can and should be embraced and leveraged in the classroom for good.

Whenever I have the opportunity to chat with educators about it, I take it!! I had the honour of chatting with Vicki Davis for her 10 Minute Teacher show about my new book, .

You can listen below.

Vicki is offering a book giveaway for US residents

Enter here. 

Canadian residents, enter here

Winners will be announced on August 16th.

If you have longer than 10 minutes, I also spoke with Stephen Hurley on VoicEd, the other day with surprise guest Leigh Cassell (who is featured in the book).  Check it out here.

As well, for a slightly different perspective, I spoke with Segrid Lewis on the Digital Parent podcast which can be found here.

I am going to keep talking about social media and digital leadership as long as people keep asking me to and I hope you do too! I think the more we engage in conversations around the topic in school, the greater likelihood that we can create a movement towards the positive!