How to Maintain a Connection with Teens

The future is changing and we need to prepare our students to navigate life’s superhighways. The following video demonstrates why it is so important for educators to maintain a connection with Today’s youth, to promote discussions around DIGITAL LITERACIES and DIGITAL CITIZENSHIP SKILLS.

But how do we do that, when at times teens seem to be tuning us out and relying on peer mentorship rather than adult guidance?

Well, from what I can tell in my office it’s all about the RELATIONSHIP, LANGUAGE and INVITATIONS.

Students’s want to be heard, and they want to feel valued. The power of the internet allows them to FLIP our classrooms, and if given permission, to become the expert. Learning is no longer about who has the answers. It’s about allowing students opportunities to explore areas of learning and then modelling to students how to ethically share their knowledge.

Jeff Merrell was one of the connections I made during my #etmooc experience. He is “dedicated to researching and designing innovative solutions for sharing knowledge across organizations intent on making positive social contributions” His recent blog and our interaction during #etmchat last night led to the following:

Thank you, Erin. During last night’s #etmchat I had a short Twitter conversation with Carolyn Durley, Catherine Cronin and Bonnie Stewart about this very topic. Carolyn really captured it the best in her blog post.

But at the end of our conversation, Bonnie wrote “there’s something about shifting perspective to identifying as learner that’s really powerful.” And I think that has struck us all. I know it has, for me.

Flipping our classrooms allows both the adult and the teen to become active learners in the process of obtaining knowledge.

flip 2
Flipped Class Webinar (3/27/13)

In a Flipped classroom:
1) Teachers are not lecturers and students do not sit back passively and absorb info.

2) The focus is not on LOT (lower order thinking) but on HOT (higher order thinking)- Bloomstaxonomy

3) Learners are Active, Engaged and Involved

I often FLIP my high school counselling office.

When a student comes to me with a concern I maintain a strengths based approach, inquiring, asking and inviting them to help me “BUILD THEIR COUNSELLING TOOL BELT” with them.

Just the other day I was speaking to a student about anxiety. We were exploring how to stop her negative thoughts and she showed me this app that she was currently using (on her own without me telling her to) in order to make her worries disappear…. it was even better than anything I had been trying to teach her.



I love this reflection by Jeff on the #etmooc process

Jeff Merrell


I want to reflect on two aspects of #etmooc: The experience of it and also the questions I am left pondering as I transition to some post-etmooc state. I am happy that this is part of my visible digital self. But truthfully, I am writing this for myself.

Some context first. etmooc started at the same time that the academic quarter begins at Northwestern University, where in winter I teach a graduate course called Creating & Sharing Knowledge (#msloc430 if you want to follow us) which is really about within-organization technology and collaboration (think Enterprise 2.0). I also co-teach another course in winter in which teams of graduate students tackle a real 6-month project for an organization. It is very much a problem-based learning course in which there is no real “lecture” element (hooray!) but instead a lot of doing. Picture it as a consulting engagement using design thinking as…

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Continuing My Mission for Life Long Learning

This is the last week of #etmooc. I’ve noticed that many of you have jumped in with your last posts, so I figured that although this will not be my last post (I’m now addicted to blogging) I would try to put into words how life changing my #etmooc experience has been for me.

#Etmooc is no longer a thought, it’s a lifestyle. Just this week I’ve been inspired by the courage of vlogs. I’ve shared my ideas with the collaborative article. I had a colleague over to my office today to help her get started with Twitter, Pinterest and Haiku Decks. Tomorrow I will be having “coffee” in a Google+ Hangout. I have even submitted a proposal to the BC School Counselling Association to present at their conference in October. All things I never in my wildest dreams would have thought possible on January 17, 2013 when I first logged onto

Remembering my first vlog (if you notice I couldn’t even pronounce MOOC!!!)

As I prepare to launch myself into the world, I find myself worrying that I will loose some of what I’ve had over the last three months… However every time I waiver I am reassured again and again that we are a COMMUNITY not just a COURSE

As always, we’d love you to share your resources with us in our #etmooc Diigo Group We’ve also shared a few below that may be of interest.
■Digital Citizenship Policy Development Guide – from Alberta Education.
■Common Sense Media – Excellent digital citizenship resource.
■Digizen – Great resource for teachers.
■Digital Citizenship Resources – from Mike Ribble.
■‘Teens, kindness & cruelty on social network sites’ – From Pew Internet.
■Popular Essays – from danah boyd.
■Digital Activism – various resources.
■5 Online Tools By Activists for Activists – from Mashable.
■‘Hashtag Activism & Its Limits’ – from the NYT.
■‘Are Millennials Lazy or Avant-Garde Social Activists?’ – from Forbes.
As part of my Life Long Learning Adventure, I have also decided to try out a few other MOOC experiences this year including:

Inspiring Leadership through Emotional Intelligence
Case Western Reserve University

Human Evolution: Past and Future
University of Wisconsin–Madison (my anthro dreams to be lived!!)

Social Psychology
Tip: Because the focus of this course is social, students often enjoy taking it with friends so that they can discuss and study the material together. If you choose to invite a few friends to take the course (which we encourage), the ideal study group size is usually 3-5 people. (Any takers)

and finally

Creativity, Innovation and Change- Coursera

A course which I am very excited about already due to the fantastic invitations I have been sent already (check this out)!!


We are so pleased you have decided to embark on this epic journey with us. Creativity and innovation are enormously complex subjects. From our personal experiences, we can tell you that this learning journey will be tough at times, but it will also be insightful, particularly when the unexpected happens. In the end, we hope it will be wildly exciting or at a minimum, personally satisfying. Your efforts are priceless, as you will build invaluable creative problem solving skills and a new outlook on change that will bring you success in your career and life.

You are important to us in creating this course. We need your assistance in developing a network of participants who are willing to combine their creative abilities into a team effort. If possible, reach out to your friends, coworkers, and acquaintances to sign up for the course with the understanding that you will be collaborating and co-creating by sharing ideas and experiences to enhance everyone’s efforts.We are asking you as your first assignment, to find people who are willing to join you in taking the course and be part of your network. See if you can use some creative approaches if possible to diversify your circle.

If you wish to take the course completely on your own, as an independent learner, that’s perfectly fine too. You will be able to select from the same modules, and your work will go through peer review just like everyone else in the course. If, at any time, you decide to connect with an existing network or form one during the course, please do so! We do encourage networking because it helps stimulate more and different ideas.

Again, welcome to the course! It promises to be an unforgettable experience for us all.


Jack, Kathryn, Darrell, and John

Hello and welcome again, Adventurer, Explorer or Tourist Erin Luong !

We are very happy to see our community growing with more students each day. At this point we are still more than five months away from the start of your course in “Creativity, Innovation and Change”. In this email we want to tell you about three levels of engagement in this course: Adventurers, Explorers, and Tourists. Below our names, we summarize previous emails in case you recently joined this MOOC.

Adventurers, Explorers, and Tourists
From previous MOOC offerings, we know that not all students engage with the course materials and assignments in the same way or with the same intensity. This is fully understandable! You might have lots of time and interest, and so are ready to invest deeply in this course; or you might have many life commitments that leave you with less time, but still want to learn many of the concepts that this course will offer. We want to make our class useful for YOU — whatever your life and interests lead you to right now — and so we are creating three kinds of student profiles, called Adventurers, Explorers, and Tourists.

Adventurers. You have signed up for the class and are serious about mastering the entire course. You are committed to doing the course-related quizzes, activities, and assignments, AND you are eager and able to complete a course-long project, either alone or as part of a team. As an Adventurer, you want to take full advantage of this great opportunity to build on your creative potential and create something innovative that will change your life or the lives of those around you for the better!

You are eager to learn and contribute to the course, but your available time allows you to participate only in the class assignments (weekly quizzes and activities), not in project work. You are excited about the material and play an active role in the course, perhaps by providing feedback and mentoring other students, just as Adventurers and Tourists can do at any time. We need the contributions of everyone in the community!

Tourists. You have signed up for the class, love it, want to take it, but because of other commitments in life, you cannot commit to the course all the time. This is fine! As a Tourist, you come and go to the course platform, watch some of the videos now and then, participate in some activities here and there, and do your best to stick with the class from the beginning to the end , trying to get as much as you can out of it. Maybe …you will have more time to commit to the class in future offerings!

These are broad categories, and you might even want to switch from one to another – and that’s perfectly fine. We just want to create more choices for you, so that you can make use of the course to the extent that your schedule allows. If you have a chance, please go to our facebook page at: or tweet us @PSUCIC and give us feedback on this idea! We’d love to hear from you. Also, please let your friends, family, and colleagues know about the different options for taking this course; we want to reach as many people as possible with our positive message about creativity, innovation, and change, and we understand that people have different amounts of time available to spend in online learning.

Next, here is some more creative food for thought that we would like to share and discuss with you on Facebook. (
If you have a blog or website where you’d like to respond and talk with your friends, we would love hear from you just tweet us @PSUCIC so we can keep track of everyone’s responses to be used in the course. We love co-creation.

James Watson How DNA was Discovered (

J.K. Rowling Speaks at Harvard Commencement about Failure (

On Creativity and Travel:Fearless Creativity (

Lastly, if you happened to miss the first email we sent out, below our names is a summary of what we shared then. We are delighted to have you in our community.

Your friends,
Jack, Kathryn, and Darrell
Dear CIC Champion Erin Luong,Thank you for registering for our course, “Creativity, Innovation, and Change” (CIC)! We will be emailing you periodically to keep you informed about the course design and to request your input on content and concepts you want to see. For now …

– Facebook / Twitter. We have set up a Facebook page and a Twitter account so we can communicate with you prior to the start of the course. You can “Like” us on Facebook at and follow us on Twitter @PSUCIC ( We will post interesting articles and movie clips to continue the excitement for the course and to seed conversation about the course goals: creativity,innovation, and change in your corner of the world!

Inviting others. We know that you are excited about developing your expertise creatively and taking action to make change. We are excited too! So please don’t hesitate to encourage your friends, family, colleagues, and others to sign up for the course. We sincerely want to help as many people as possible explore their potential to create positive change by learning the tools and processes in our course. For many of you, your recruits are likely to be the people you partner with during the course.
– An intro article. To spark your curiosity, we’d like to recommend a short article called “We are All Creative People Living in a Creative World” ( Post your thoughts or link your blog on our Facebook page or tweet us, and we will begin to build our creative and collaborative community even before class begins!

Jack, Darrell, and Kathryn


The positive energy, and language is giving me the shivers…. So who out there wants to go on a new adventure…….

Digital Dualism and School Counselling

The National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP) is a searchable online registry used to promote research-based practice. According to the NREPP the connection a child or adolescent feels to their counsellor is imperative to the success the student experiences in counselling.

Many students live in a space of “digital dualism” Their lives are an interplay of both online and offline relationships.

As a high school counsellor, my goal is not to teach students what they MUST do to be successful, but rather encourage them to reflect on their strengths and what would work for them. One of the ways that I have found to successfully connect with many of my students is through the incorporation of technology.

 Students are empowered to self reflect when they develop projects, assignments and strategies using tools such as Youtube, Livebinders, Haiku Deck, Pinterest, Instragram, Twitter and more.  Asking for the student’s ideas and opinions also demonstrates that what they were doing is valuable and worth recognizing

The following are just a few of the projects and or resources I’ve seen that
were developed or recommended by students:

HAIKU DECK: Collaborative: Letting Go of Negative Thoughtsanxiety


I would love to hear how others are integrating technology into their offices and/or classrooms as a response to digital dualism.

Adding YOU into Your Educational Story

Last week I did a blog around the fantastic experience my high school students had at U of S’s Synchrotron, as a part of the CLS Light Source program and how important they felt to be a part of that project. Today I’d love to reflect on another story of successful engagement I heard about at the elementary level.
Last Friday we had parent teacher interviews in our district, which means that elementary students were given a day at home so that teachers were available to speak with parents. While most students were home relaxing, one grade six student was very excited because he had been asked to go into to school to write an exam.
What was that you ask? A sixth grade student was happy to go into school on his day off and take an exam!?!
Well, when I heard this I was curious and I asked him what his exam was about.
“Oh I’m a SCHOOL SAFETY PATROL” he announced, “ I was nominated to take this exam”.
I could definitely hear the pride in his voice. He felt proud to be able to demonstrate his knowledge, and privileged to be able to take a test. I decided to do a little investigating to see if I could learn any tips or tricks for inspiring kids to excel.

Welcome to AMA School Safety Patrol
You are an important part of a team that has been keeping children safe since 1937 – that’s a really long time

One of the first things I noticed when I went onto the Alberta Motor Association website was their choice of language. Instead of just stating that the school partrol is important, they informed the students that they were important (valued) and a part of a team (community oriented). This language invites the student in to become a part of the process.

AMA School Safety Patrol Quiz
To be an AMA School Safety Patroller, you need to know the facts.
Take this quiz to see if you have the smarts to be an AMA School Safety Patroller.
For more information, check the Patroller Handbooks in the patrollers’ corner section.

When AMA asked the students to do their initial assessment, they encouraged students to try their best rather than simply doing the quiz out of necessity.

Safety Starts With You
Tell us what you’ve done to make a difference. Eligible projects can be as simple as increasing the number of pedestrians that use “Point, Pause and Proceed” or physical changes to crosswalk or signage.

The projects and assignments invited students to self reflect. Asking for the student’s ideas and opinions also demonstrated that what they were doing was valuable and worth recognizing. – Very similar to the ideas that I saw with the high school age students last week.

Although this was definitely not a formal or comprehensive review, I feel that I still gained a few affirmations around assessment in education:
1) Show the student that they are important.
2) Show the student that what they are learning is important.
3) Allow students an opportunity to shine as the expert.

ps- on a side note the image I used is through the creative commons. If you would like tips on refining your image search to only CC items check out the following link: