keep your head IN the clouds.


No matter where you are on Earth you can find them in some capacity.


Clouds open the mind to creativity and hold a world of opportunity.

You just never know what your going to see, find, or do when your are working with clouds.

Clouds are also very interesting in that they can take different forms. They can span what seems to be a continuous blanket covering multiple communities, connecting everyone under the same conditions. Or they are simply dotted across the sky in isolated pockets.


they are nowhere to be found.

They are always changing.

They influence peoples actions.

They are essential.

They can literally cause waves of change.


They need to be embraced and honoured for the power they hold.

Sugata Mitra, he understands the power of the clouds. He even argues that we should “Build a School in the Cloud.”

After watching Sugata Mitra’s TedTalk it is apparent that mobile devices do belong in our learning commons and in the hands of those in rural communities and developing nations. Though Sugata’s video demonstrated the use of hardwired computers, it is the access to the cloud of information and world wide connectivity that makes integrating mobile devices so important.

This rings true wherever you are.

Stop watching the clouds float by.

Pull them down and start putting them into hands.


It is important to know that wherever you go, you will never see the exact same cloud formation. The use, style, and format will be very different. Though this does not level the playing field it is a step in the right direction.

Blogger and research Wayne Kelly, reiterates this point when he reviewed and highlighted Cyrus Farivar’s book the Internet of Elsewhere.

He states that “the development and more importantly the application of the Internet is shaped by its locale and context. Different Countries = Different Internet Profiles.”

Thus creating different uses and endless opportunity.

He further goes on to highlight that “Different Communities = Different Internet Reality. To develop effective connectivity and adaptation of the Internet in rural communities, it is necessary to understand the community and its users. Understanding community characteristics and working with community residents to determine how they might use the Internet helps to increase the effectiveness of Internet infrastructure, skills and applications. The example below is one that sits closer to home. Looking at rural communities.

The Gold Trail School District in B.C. has done just that.

Connected Classrooms in Gold Trail School District in British Columbia from Rural Teachers on Vimeo.

A successful use of mobile devices and technology. The need for relationship building and accessing living libraries from surrounding community members was needed and achieved. Those implementing the use took the time to understand the characteristics of the members involved. The power that was given to the young man at the end – fantastic!

Every cloud has the potential and ability to rumble.

According to Wayne Kelly, “digital planning in many rural communities (tends to) stop with achieving general connectivity, while communities should be developing specific digital plans that meets their infrastructure, skill and application goals.”

Furthermore, ITU Committed to Connecting the World states that, “telecommunication services are driven by technological and economic considerations. Setting up backhaul connectivity remains a high-cost exercise. Erratic power supply or a complete lack of energy sources is a major barrier…and…The requirement to maintain sufficient backup systems raises operational costs substantially.”

An article titled, Rural Public Libraries and Digital Inclusion: Issues and Challenges also speaks to the raincloud that follows the use of mobile devices. They also mention the difficulty in creating infrastructure to support broadband internet access in sparsely populated areas, as well as suggest problems surrounding slower connections speeds and less available digital training.


Cost (infrastructure/ devices), power sources and profitability margins tend to be the hurricane cloud base that are standing in the way.  Sadly, the rural communities and the developing nations of the world have yet to find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow to rectify these challenges.

Therefore, they look for the silver lining instead.


These include, government intervention initiatives and grants for libraries to be digitally inclusive (developed nations), and the creation of devices like the BRCK and the kiokit for developing nations. These developments came from understanding the members who would be using it and the need that needed to be addressed.




As our nations continue to trouble shoot these barriers, it becomes ever more apparent that the use of mobile devices within the education arena (whatever that arena look like) is a necessity.

We need to stop listening to our grandma’s and mom’s and start “leave our heads IN the clouds.”

Man jump

Man jump through the gap. Element of design.

As long as we have the clouds and the ability connect we will be able to bridge the gap, and help all of our nations be active members of the knowledge-based economy.

Take the leap and stay in the clouds!

Cheers Ashlee

1 Wireless backhaul is the use of wireless communications systems to get data from an end user to a node in a major network such as the Internet or the proprietary network of a large business, academic institution or government agency.


Eng, K., & Walters, H. (2014, November 7). A rugged, mobile wifi device brings the web to schools in Africa and beyond, thanks to this TED fellow Retrieved from

Kelly, W. (2011). “The Internet of Elsewhere” works for countries – how about communities? Retrieved from

Kelly, W. (2059, August 16). Ingredients for e-ready communities Retrieved from

Muñoz-Reyes P., M. C. (2014). Bridging the digital and knowledge gap in rural communities through mobile learning. wise Retrieved 29 October 2016, from

Real, B., Bertot, J. C., & Jaeger, P. T. (2014). Rural public libraries and digital inclusion: Issues and challenges. Information Technology and Libraries, 33(1), 6. doi:10.6017/ital.v33i1.5141

Rugged, portable WiFi Hotspot & battery Extender. (2016). Retrieved October 29, 2016, from

TED (2013, February 27). Sugata Mitra: Build a school in the cloud Retrieved from


In the bin and all mixed up

There are a 100 pieces to what seems to be a very simple puzzle, but right now I find myself disorganized and dumped in the bin.


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Upon quick reflection this seemed like it should be an easy task. The recommendations, informative websites and blogs provided ample information. However, even though I have dug around the box (website searches, journal articles, conversations with colleagues, blogging and webinar training sessions) and have found some of the parts I need to “face” the changes required to build myself up and “head” in the right direction, I find myself all mixed up!


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Upon my initial reflection this was the best I could do. Bits and pieces not quite right but not totally wrong either. Keeping in mind that a certain level of whimsy and quirky is a necessity when working with Mr. Potato Head.

It is obvious though that I currently struggle with putting all of the pieces into practice. I have an understanding of what it should look like. That image has be painted clearly. It looks something more like this.


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A cool, confident, parts in the right place kind’a fellow.

So I try again. I take my new learning about ICT (an abbreviation I had to ask what it stood for – Ack how embarrassing!) and my thoughts on 21st century literacy, and I shared them with my colleagues. I also continue to try to figure out where in my schedule I can start implementing some of these things, so that the use ICT becomes part of the norm.

Volia! Look at me now,


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Not bad, right! At least this time I have a few more essential parts, they just haven’t quite found the most effective and efficient spots. I was feeling pretty darn good with my progress. And then this happened:



Conversations with colleagues about the lack of support and inadequate infrastructure ripped each part right back off.  Scheduling nightmares, student management concerns and device shortages presented me with a naked spud and pieces no one around me dared to touch. I myself (if I am being honest) looked at them in despair with a wrinkled nose and curled lip of disgust.

I am resilient, and at times annoyingly persistent.

SO, as I pick up the snot laden drool dripping pieces I reflected on what was working. Though I may not be practicing what I have started to learn. I am thinking about it and am aware that changes need to be made. Changes that I can control, and those that I cannot.

It came down to this. What had me motivated in the first place?

I picked up the pieces and gave them a rinse.

EYES: I took my first step and signed up for ONLINE courses (very scary for me), but has been and eye opener so far.

EARS: I decided that my professional growth plan would be around the use of FreshGrade in my class. I have since invited colleagues to join me for online training webinars. Together the four of us have decided to create our own mini PLC on the use of the program.

MOUSTACHE: I started a Brain Food board in our staffroom, where I post interesting bits of information I have found during this course surrounding the implementation of ICT.

ARMS: I continue to share my blog with colleagues and friends. I was not keen on the idea of having to write a blog, however I have come to find that I quite enjoy doing it. I can see myself continuing to use it after the completion of this course.

TONGUE: I continue to share and discuss ideas I come across with colleagues.

HAT: I have started reading twitter feeds more. I still find it difficult to post anything. It has not yet become part of my overall image. More of an accessory really.

FEET: I am working on developing online networks. I find this to be the most challenging. Online networks were once only for fun and friends. I mostly used the great wide web for taking my brain AWAY from my work. Not for finding ways to do my work differently. Therefore, this is the most challenging aspect for me. I am more of a potato-to-potato kind of learner as well. I know that potato-to-potato is possible through wonderful tools like skype, and google hangout, Im just not there – YET.

And so…

I put those pieces back on. They are not in the most efficient or effective positions, however Im confident in saying, that for where I am in my learning journey their placement is not quite right but not totally wrong either. I have a lot of learning and navigating yet to do. I am working on putting myself out there. Even when I look like this:


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and feel a bit like this:


Cheers, All mixed Up


Webinars:  –> free professional development

Side note: My apologies for my confusing out of order posts. I mixed up this weeks and last weeks, which I discovered in a hangout. Even when Im not in potato mode, Im all mixed up – ACK!


A little something that made me giggle this week:



Catch That Frog!

Did you see that cute little FROG? Good!

That my friend represents your teaching staff and colleagues alike.

Notice the blue flames licking the side of the pot and the bubbly water?

That HOT RABIDLY BOILING DEATH BATH represents the use of technology in the learning environment.

I imagine your colleagues, similar to mine, are in no way interested or feeling compelled to jump head first into a situation where they feel they will BURN UP AND DIE! They are quite content sitting just where they are away from the danger.


Granted, there is always at least one brave lil’ feller (you know who – yup image of their face coming to you now – and outward laughter) who will and frequently does jump right on in.

The rest of us however are NOT going to do it, we just aren’t!

Try as you might, we will climb, claw, hop right out of that situation, making a quick exit right back to our natural habitat. The place where everything has a comfortable rhythm that we ourselves have designed. Its perfect. And on those days when its not…well… you see a lot of closed doors while walking down the hallway.



So how on earth are we going to help foster a community of hot tub using frogs?

Slow and steady wins the race my friend, and sometimes you just have to TRICK them.

You watched the video, there was clearly some deception.

Too often our frog friends feel like they are being thrown into the deep end without any support. Being tossed into the ICT pool is no different. We must help our colleagues master their sense of worry and uncertainty that their learners (and ours) face daily. We have to put them in the just right pot, not too hot, not too cold (Thank you, Goldilocks!). The pot where the water is only half a degree warmer than their natural habitat.

The question is, how do you get them to even try out the just right pot?

Well I am a bit of a trickster, so I like to lure my froggy friends over to the pot. I catch them on a door open kind of day. Enter their habitat with exciting news that I just have to share. I make a solid connection on how cool and powerful the use of the technology was in my class. Then I point out how I think it would be even easier and produce better results with their students, because… well…I teach grade 1 and your kids have a greater skill set at this time than mine. Imagine the possibilities!

(As an aside….I have found this approach works across the subject areas!)

In honesty though, we need to provide them with ‘use right’ now technology options. Options that allow them to get comfortable with the idea of implementing them at all. It must be user friendly and in the pick up and GO format.

As we move up the heat dial, we need to begin by selecting options that do not require a lot of up front training. This is overwhelming. “What I am doing is working….I have so much on my plate already….” This commentary goes on. All of which are true anyone in education does have a lot going on. As such we are amazing at dodging optional training. Just like those freaked out deer on the road. One second your thinking your in for a hefty ICBC bill the next your asking…where did they go? Just like the deer on the road and the frog and the boiling water, teachers get spooked.

By turning on the heat slowly, we decrease the chance of them getting spooked and allow a mindset shift to occur. It puts the teacher (colleague) in a situation where they can then see themselves as future users.

Once this has been achieved that darn frog is going to stay in the pot. Even as we continue to slowly turn up the heat bit by bit, introducing new technology to its learning environment.

By now our little frog is feeling so comfortable and relaxed they begin inviting other frogs to join the pot. Before you know it its a regular old hot tub party.


Success! Just like our students, those little frogs were given time to see how it works for them. They were given time to process the change, and take the course of action they required to be successful. Actions such as attending inservice sessions or staff collaboration and dialogue…you name it. They were given the opportunity to adapt at the speed that made the most sense for them. You are bound to have a few jump out here and there along the way.


Have that net ready (support team)! Sometimes it is hard to catch a frog, they are slippery. However, If you have the right tools and you are willing to put in the time required. You’ll have that frog back in the pot in no time.

A June 22, 2012 blog post titled Growing Digital Teachers: Encouraging technology in the classroom really sums up my approach to how we keep the frog in the pot. You can give it a quick scan through here:

For more ideas check out the post How to Get Hesitant Teachers to Use Technology found on the Powerful Learning Practice: Professional learning for connected educators site. It is available here:

How to Get Hesitant Teachers to Use Technology

Good luck catching your frogs.

Ashlee – aka Frog Catcher in Training.

Sometimes You Just Need To Make Stone Soup

Making stone soup is a challenging task. Some people say it can’t be done. But it can… oh it can. Creating a community of readers can be just as difficult. However, when you have the right chef and when the members of the community become aware of the ingredients THEY can bring to the soup, the rich and delicious soup is made. If you are going to make stone soup, you must start with three key things. Bring on the pot, water, and of course the STONES. These three things are ESSENTIAL. If they are not present, those nervously watching from the other side of the pot, already doubting the creation of the soup and most importantly doubting how they can contribute to the soup, will not be able to see themselves as future chefs.


Ingredients for Stone Soup:

1 Large Pot – The shared belief (by every teacher, parent, administrator…) that EVERY         child is a reader and can learn how to read.

Water  – Mindful use of language that encompasses and supports the learner and the    endless possibilities that will be added.

Stones  – Encouragement to take risks.

Why are these three ingredients so important, you ask? You can certainly TRY to make stone soup without them, but every time someone does the soup just leaves a BAD taste in everyones mouth. This is why they are SO IMPORTANT.


How on earth do you plan on keeping it all together? I tried making stone soup once, and I very quickly learned the importance of a good sturdy pot. The first time, I used a pot that leaned to one side, and let me tell you it ended up being just one heck of a mess. If you don’t believe me you can try for yourself, or you can read through the article written by Paul J. Baker and R. Kay Moss titled Creating a Community of Readers and you’ll see the necessity of a good solid cooking pot. You can find this by copying and pasting the info below in a new tab.


Well…come on…this should just be a given. This is a necessity for any good soup. Name a soup that didn’t require the use of water. Not to mention some soups need boiling hot, some just a mere simmer, and well those odd summer soups require COLD water. Strange, so very strange. I digress. The water “provides the building material for (children’s) understanding of a wide range of literate concepts, practices, and possibilities…” (Johnston, 2004, p. 10). So there you have it, plain and simple, no water = no possibilities. So DONT FORGET THE WATER!


A risky ingredient I agree. The soup is called Stone Soup after all so…reason stands – REQUIRED! People don’t naturally think to use stones as an ingredient and thats why you just have to do it. Going beyond ones comfort zone and taking a chance is what makes Stone Soup taste so darn good.


I can tell you’re formulating a BUT?!…

I would bet is sounds something like this:

“But Ashlee everyone knows stone soup wasn’t just made with stones and water in a big pot”

You’re right! The stones aren’t the only thing found on the cutting board.

Enter the chef, and the nervous community members watching from the other side of the pot.  That sneaky chef I tell ya’ has a way with words. Finessing and helping the onlookers see the potential THEY have to ENHANCE the flavour of the soup by TRYING out NEW cooking skills and adding INGREDIENTS to the POT.


So to satisfy you BUT!? Here is a list of ingredients that often get added to the pot:

Onion           – Family/ School Literacy Events

Carrots         – Reading Buddies

Celery          – Home Reading Programs

Potatoes      – Teach Your Monster To Read

Herbs           – Apps (Cahill and McGill Franzen, 2013, p.30)

Peas            – Tumble Books

Salt              – Digital Picture Books (Theormer and Williams, 2012, p.441)

Pepper        – Digital Picture Books (Schugar and Smith, 2013, p. 615)

Protein        – Raz-Kids

Really the possibilities are endless. I found many more ingredient options on this not so cooking website. (You just never know what your going to find, or where your going to find it on the internet)

I know some of these see ingredients may not be found in your pantry, and the sound of some of them may be a tad scary to try. No one wants a BAD soup in the end. The site below will help give you some comfort in explaining why these ingredients might just be the best choice for your future soup. 2013/03/15670_MS_EarlyChildhood_Industrypaper_08082012.pdf

If you think about the magic behind stone soup it truly is amazing. So I leave you with one last reminder: only when you use the three essential ingredients, and a combination of the ones brought by those nervously watching will you have a tasty STONE SOUP.


Dig in everyone!

The Shopping List

2016, Education, S., & licensors, its. (2002). Starfall: Learn to read with Phonics, learn mathematics. Retrieved October 6, 2016, from

A-Z, L. Raz-Kids. Retrieved October 6, 2016, from

Baker, P. J., & Moss, K. R. Creating a community of readers. Retrieved from

Bushey, E. Inkless tales. Retrieved October 6, 2016, from

Cahill, M., & McGill-Franzen, A. (2013). Selecting “App” ealing and “App” ropriate book Apps for beginning readers. The Reading Teacher, 67(1), 30–39. doi:10.1002/trtr.1190

Johnston, P. H. (2004). Choice words: How our language affects children’s learning. Portland, Me: Stenhouse Publishers.

Lovegrove, M., & Primary, C. Teach your monster to read. Retrieved October 6, 2016, from

Schugar, H. R., Smith, C. A., & Schugar, J. T. (2013). Teaching with interactive picture e-books in grades K-6. The Reading Teacher, 66(8), 615–624. doi:10.1002/trtr.1168


Thoermer, A., & Williams, L. (2012). Using digital texts to promote fluent reading. The Reading Teacher, 65(7), 441–445. doi:10.1002/trtr.01065

Tumblebooks -read watch learn! Retrieved October 6, 2016, from

Yokota, J., & Teale, W. H. (2014). Picture books and the digital world. The Reading Teacher, 67(8), 577–585. doi:10.1002/trtr.1262

Look Out Wonka, Here I Come!

I found a Golden Ticket! Actually, it should read tickets. This is a game changer. Little Charlie Buckets life changed drastically once he found his golden ticket. On the grand scheme of things, my life will stay…well…the same. My professional journey however, is about to be dumped upside down and spun around. All thanks to those golden tickets and my tour through Wonka’s innovative game changing factory.

I have always been intrigued by the idea of implementing the use of iPads in my teaching, however I have been reluctant to do so for a number of reasons. As such, instead of stopping to investigate, I have always just walked on by, pushing the idea to the back of my mind only to have it resurface time and time again. Clearly, I needed to find the golden ticket. I needed to face my curiosity head on, and go through the gates of the great Wonka factory. I like Charlie had no idea what I would see, hear, or find. What I did know, was that I needed to go, even though the idea of it was both exciting and horrifying.

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Thousands of golden tickets were out there to be found. They were found in a number of different formats, not just wrapped around a tasty candy-bar. Journal articles, magazines articles, videos, blogs, and social media sites. Many of them, though promising, turned out to be mere counterfeits. It was hard to tell them apart, which ultimately lead to disappointment when I realized they were not going to open the gates of the Wonka Factory. Once again, causing me to walk on by and stick to my usual path.

Luckily my fate changed. Unlike Charlie who only found one golden ticket, I found many.

Most of my luck came in the format of journal and magazine articles. Like the lick-able wallpaper many of them gave me a taste of what was out there. They provided me direction and let me know I was heading down the right hall. The tour had begun!


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Like the bratty children that accompanied Charlie on his tour, I was accompanied by my own annoying group, What Are, How Will, Have You and What Will. Going on a tour with these guys really slows you down.

Have You truly thought about and created a clear vision for how the use of iPads will improve student learning and instruction?

What Will you do to ensure iPads are not just replacing a tool that does the same job?

How Will you implement this new thinking and processes into your practice?

What Are you going to do now, now that you have started the journey?

I am glad I met them, since meeting them allowed me to shape who I want to be and how I want to proceed forward. I will be honest in saying though, that I was more than happy when they fell into the chocolate river, were rolled away, fell down a shoot and shrunk out of sight. I know they will be back and thats a good thing. They are the reminders that keep me on track.

As I moved through the various rooms of the Wonka factory, my vision and understanding of using iPads to enhance motivation and engagement in primary writing was shaped. The magic that is to be had as a result of their use, was becoming more of a reality.

Not every part of the Wonka factory was delightful. The trip through the chocolate river tunnel brought forward concerns, frustrations, and straight up fear around implementing the use of iPads. Storage considerations, management, costs, programming support, and the like were flashed before my eyes. However, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.


I found these gems mostly through blog posts and social media conversations. Feedback, from those already thinking and working like the great Wonka himself. I knew I was on the right track when the resources I found began referencing each other. The video titled, Introduction to the SAMR Model, really began to shape my thinking. You can find it by clicking the link below.

The challenges Charlie faced while in the factory, I faced too. The temptation of that fizzy lifting drink was all too great. As I was almost shredded by the fan, I started to sink down only when I reflected on my thinking surrounding iPad use. I was forced to question: How will the learning with iPads be different? What will they be able to do that they can’t do now? Only then did I come to realize my practice needs to change!


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I began to envision what iPad use in primary writing would look like, so that it was meaningful and purposeful learning. My main take away is to ensure that there are opportunities to make connections beyond the walls of our classroom and school. These connections provide greater motivation, as well as make our writing more authentic. I was also forced to embrace and change my mindset around what I call the “flock.” This is the lovely group of children that forms when the iPad is out (Yes, you read right, THE iPad. I only have 1. This is a problem in of its own). Through the readings it was heavily implied that watching others use technology allows the watcher to see themselves as potential and future users. Lesson learned! The flock gets to stay.

I have many more rooms to go through in the Wonka factory and it will take time. I am a creature of habit and it is challenging to change my practices. I am however ready to think and work the the great Mr. Wonka himself. Let the risk-taking and outward thinking begin.

These are the Golden Tickets that have started to shape my thinking. I am happy to share them with you. Please hold onto them tight, for if you lose them, you may not be able to take your tour of the Wonka Factory.


Cassidy, K. (2012, July 2). IPads in primary: Does 1-to-1 make a difference? Retrieved from

Coskie, T. L., & Michelle Hornof, M. (2013). E-BEST principles: Infusing technology into the writing workshop. The Reading Teacher, 67(1), 54–58. doi:10.1002/trtr.1189

Daccord, T., & Reich, J. (2015, May). How to transform teaching with tablets. EL Educational Leadership: Teaching with Mobile Tech, 72(8), 19–23

Educator video: Introduction to the SAMR model. Retrieved 2016, from Common Sense Media,

Guskey, T. R., & Anderman, E. M. (2013, December). In search of a useful definition of mastery. EL Educational Leadership: Getting Students to Mastery, 71(4), 19–23

Harris, K. R., Graham, S., Friedlander, B., & Laud, L. (2013). Bring powerful writing strategies into your classroom! Why and how. The Reading Teacher, 66(7), 538–542. doi:10.1002/trtr.1156

Hicks, T., & Hawley Turner, K. (2013). No longer a luxury: Digital literacy can’t wait. English Journal, 102(6), 58–65.

Hutchison, A., Beschorner, B., & Schmidt-Crawford, D. (2012). Exploring the use of the iPad for literacy learning. The Reading Teacher, 66(1), 15–23. doi:10.1002/trtr.01090

Maich, K., & Hall, C. (2015). Implementing iPads in the inclusive classroom setting. Intervention in School and Clinic. doi:10.1177/1053451215585793

Mango, O. (2015). iPad use and student engagement in the classroom. TOJET the Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology, 14(1), 53–57.

Meeuwse, K. (2016, May 1). Focus on the learning, not the tool Retrieved from

Morgan, H. (2014). Using digital story projects to help students improve in reading and writing. Reading Improvement, 51(1), 20–26.

Mrs. Pursche. (2015, March 26). SAMR model: iPads to modify writing Retrieved from

Northrop, L., & Killeen, E. (2013). A framework for using iPads to build early literacy skills. The Reading Teacher, 66(7), 531–537. doi:10.1002/trtr.1155

Tucker, C. (2013, December). Five musts for mastery. EL Educational Leadership: Getting Students to Mastery, 71(4)

Warschauer, M., & Tate, T. (2016, May). Going one-to-one, 2.0. EL Educational Leadership: Teaching with Mobile Tech, 72(8), 60–65