CGS Professional Development Blog

Apple Education Leadership Conference by Jeff Orsten

Posted on April 29, 2016 at 2:47 pm

On April 28, 2016, Apple Canada held an Education Leadership Conference in Calgary which I had the pleasure to attend. There were inspiring keynote speakers and a number of smaller breakout sessions.

The first keynote speaker focused on how to effectively and responsibly promote technology use in schools. She used the metaphor of two islands and three different kinds of people. One island is where we are now and the other is full and effective adoption of technology in our schools. The three people were the ‘swimmer’, who jumps right in without even testing the waters, the ‘shark spotter’, who identifies potential pitfalls, and the ‘flag holder”, who stoutly refuses to accept change. Interestingly, value was not afforded to one type of person over another. Indeed, all three were revealed to have both strengths and weaknesses and the real point is to bring all three to the new island. Powerful reflection.

The second keynote speaker discussed the framework with which we understand learning. This was a well-researched speech that discussed many of the philosophical relics from education’s past that act as barriers to leaning and teaching, and to adoption of technology in the classroom as well. Inspiring and thought provoking.

The last keynote speaker was an Apple employee who unveiled the new features available for students and educators coming with the next major operating system update. There are some amazing new features and this goes to show that Apple has listened to the feedback of schools and teachers and is taking their role in education very seriously. Great news!

The breakout sessions were led by teachers and each showcased various opportunities to integrate technology into pedagogy. There is some amazing work going on in classrooms across Canada and the opportunity to network with these inspiring leaders was a real treat.

Overall, the folks at Apple put on an excellent day of learning, sharing and growing. It is wonderful to see their deep investment in functional and motivating technology for schools. The future is bright!

MCATA Math and Science Conference –Attended by Janine Gorman and Laura Cox

Posted on April 28, 2016 at 10:10 am

The aim of this conference was to help to educators develop effective strategies that build confidence and increase levels of engagement for students in mathematics and science.

Before giving students a summative assessment, we must ask ourselves, “have we engaged them and gotten them interested?” We need to take the time to engage a sense of wonder and curiosity before assessing, particularly in area of math and sciences where there are phobias.

One way to do this is through the use of games (There was a common theme of game play as a way to engage students in mathematics across the individual sessions, and a numbers of resources were shared that could be applied across different grade levels)

Games give students opportunities to explore fundamental number concepts, such as exploring the use of patterns and computation strategies. Engaging mathematical games can also encourage students to explore number combinations, place value, patterns, and other important mathematical concepts. They also provide opportunities for students to deepen their mathematical understanding and reasoning.

  • Playing games encourages strategic mathematical thinking as students find different strategies for solving problems and deepen their understanding of numbers.
  • When played repeatedly, games support students’ development of computational fluency.
  • Games support a school-to-home connection. Parents can learn about their children’s mathematical thinking by playing games with them at home.

Introducing the use of games in the classroom

Teacher vs. Class modeling: After briefly explaining the rules, and modeling the first move, ask students to make the class’s next move. Teachers can also model strategies by talking aloud for students to hear his or her thinking. “I placed my game marker on the six because that would give me the largest number.”

Holding Students Accountable

While playing games, have students record mathematical equations or representations of the mathematical tasks. This allows teachers to revisit student notes in order to examine their mathematical understanding.

After playing a game, have students reflect on the game by asking them to discuss questions orally or write about them in a mathematics notebook or journal:

  • What skill did you review and practice?
  • Which strategies did you use while playing the game?
  • If you were to play the games a second time, what different strategies would you use to be more successful?
  •     How could you tweak or modify the game to make it more challenging?

Online links for mathematical games:



Skills Canada Maker Conference February 9 and 10, 2016- Janine Gorman

Posted on April 28, 2016 at 10:08 am

I recently attended the Skills Canada Maker Conference in order to learn how to successfully embrace the Makers Spaces movement.

Makers Spaces foster an intentional mindset that allows students to design as a way of taking abstract concepts and turning them into something tangible.  They foster creativity, imagination and designing for purpose.

Being a part of this Maker Day PD allowed me to experience what this type of learning is all about and to become excited about.

Facilitating a maker day requires “less teaching from us and more learning from the students.” We need to let students explore more and take on the role of facilitator.

This conference provided fantastic materials which I have shared with teachers on FILR.  They provide a thorough description of the value of maker spaces, and how to successfully implement them into the learning environment. For that reason, I have kept my write-up short and these resources will prove incredibly valuable for anyone wishing to embrace the maker movement with their students.

Compassion • Integrity • Collaboration • Courage • Curiosity • Democracy • Diversity