All posts by Trevor

I'm an edtech enthusiast, intermediate rotary teacher and embedded technology coach in the NGL program. NGL is a board-wide, 1:1 iPad project that focuses on the evolution of teaching and learning in a digital age. Coaching is available to all teachers and students; whether they work in a one-to-one environment or when a classroom has just one teacher iPad. I am available to connect the right technology to engage kids to the curriculum, to support teachers to assess student understanding and to transition learning spaces and practices to mobile technologies.

Technology, Pedagogy, Mindset, and now – Learning Environments

FullSizeRenderOur 1:1 iPad initiative in the Avon-Maitland District School Board has been responsible for the fastest and most significant change in mindset that I have had in 17 years of teaching.

As an NGL Technology Coach (Next Generation Learning) I have gone through a transformation as my role has organically evolved in the past two years. Initially, what we did as coaches was largely about the device, and seemed very app-centric. That’s understandable, as there was a lot of training and professional development to be done. But as we systematically put 4500 iPads into the hands of our grade 7 – 10 students, our focus became the professional development that would result in a transformation of pedagogy.

In 24 short months we have moved from the device, toward the PD and pedagogies associated with transformed practices, and a massive shift in system mindset. This innovators mindset, paired with a focus on new literacies, shifts the roles of teachers and learners and leverages the power of the device (among other things). We are slowly getting our heads out of our apps. 😉


The final piece in this transformative puzzle is that of the learning environment. If we are no longer delivering content in traditional forms on a regular basis, why must our classroom reflect traditional designs? My students no longer need to spend the majority of their time facing the ‘front’ of the room, looking at me. I know longer act as the sole provider of content, but more a facilitator,or guide, in an effort to tap into the creativity of my students. They now work in a much more collaborative environment (both physical and digitally) and are learning to communicate and problem solve in new and exciting ways. Their learning environment should be reflective of that transformation. Hence, our agile learning environment.

This collection of flexible and agile work spaces instantly changed the feel of our room. There is no seating plan. There are no assigned partners or seats. In truth, in some cases there are no seats – as students choose to stand in Stand2Learn desks, or at adjustable and mobile ‘Ergotron’ standing desks. There is even a couch.

The addition IMG_4019of transparent, wall-mounted “idea panels” for brainstorming, and the ever-popular window bar (which takes advantage of our 5 metre window that overlooks thousands of acres of fields and forests) add an openness and airiness to the room that is refreshing.


The students IMG_4021have been asked to be very mindful and metacognitive when it comes to justifying the workspaces they choose for certain tasks. Already, they are aware that the sofa, been bags, and ottoman are better for collaborative tasks that involve conversation. They suggest that the window bar offers a more private area where students choose to minimize distractions. They’ve even said the view allows them to focus and visualize while reading and writing! These, of course, are early observations and are qualitative at best. The ultimate goal is that our agile learning environment has a positive impact on student outcome.


When paired with an innovators mindset, a transformative approach to teaching and learning, and 1:1 mobile devices, I’m certain that our new agile learning environment will create results that reach far beyond engagement and motivation.

If you’d like to see more pictures, or have a conversation about our classroom, follow me on twitter and DM me at @iAMTrevorHammer

Digital Citizenship: To Educate, Respect and Protect

“Digital Citizenship is more than just a teaching tool; it is a way to prepare students/technology users for a society full of technology” – Dr. Mike Ribble

When meeting with parents, teachers, or other stakeholders in the conversation around tech-enabled teaching and learning, we often come back to the idea of balance. The idea of striking a balance between new technologies and existing practices, as well as balancing the time we spend in front of a screen, as opposed to away from a screen, is very important.  But perhaps we should broaden the conversation to consider all of the elements of Digital Citizenship; of which balance is only one.

digital_citizenship_1280-740x523The nine elements of digital citizenship, as coined by Dr. Mike Ribble, can be broken down into three groups. Consider, as we ride this tidal wave of technology, that it is our professional responsibility to Educate, Respect, and Protect while working in online environments.  When we Educate, we’re talking about things like digital communication, digital literacy and digital commerce. Respect relates to digital etiquette, digital access and digital law. To Protect means to think about digital rights, digital health and digital safety. It is imperative that we not only speak about these elements of citizenry, by model them, and teach specifically to them in our classrooms.

Common Sense Media is an incredible online resources for parents, teachers, and other consumers of technology, that provides lessons, conversations and guidelines around things like:

  • Learning with TechnologyCommon sense Logo
  • Cyberbullying
  • Screen time
  • Professional Development
  • Digital Citizenship

It is a fantastic starting point for those that are interested in conversations and lesson ideas around rights and responsibilities in online spaces.

If you have any questions about ways to incorporate digital citizenship ideas into your classroom, feel free to contact your NGL Tech Coach. We’d be happy to bring you into the conversation.


Twitter to the Rescue!

SuperTwitterIn our most recent PD sessions and department meetings, we’ve really begun to push the notion that Twitter is one the most powerful tools to build learning networks. It also allows you to share, store and aggregate ideas to push your practice to the next level.

If you’ve yet to join Twitter, I’d encourage you to do so, and I’d like to offer you a few quick tips to help you along the way.

  1. Create an account that includes your full name. Don’t be cryptic or crafty. We want to find you, connect with you and learn with you. As an example, my twitter handle is @iAMTrevorHammer.
  2. Start by following some professionals that you know and trust. Members of the program department, NGL team, and like-minded individuals in your family of schools make a great start!
  3. Dip your toes in the Twitter pool by simply ‘liking’ and ‘retweeting’ posts that match your mindset and professional goals. Sharing those tweets with your network will amplify your practice and philosophy.
  4. Use and follow the hashtag #amdsblearns. As a team, we use this hashtag to make it easier to remain connected, and share a conversation around teaching and learning.
  5. Reach out and ask for guidance. I’d be happy to meet with you and walk you through the use and benefits of Twitter. And I’d love to expand the conversation to things like TweetDeck, Hootsuite, and Paper.Li.

Let’s push the conversation, get connected and share! Follow us to get the conversation rolling!

@iAMTrevorHammer   @iAMRickSaunders    @iAMJoeyJackson    @iAMKCarr @LeighCassell

It’s not just about access to information – but the ability to learn from one another!

connected-learningI’ve long said that the best way to provide PD is to leverage the expertise within our ranks. And, last Friday in Mitchell, we did just that! I think it is fair to say that we witnessed, and were part of, something incredible.  A collection of dedicated professionals that represent all of the major partners in education – including ECE’s, EA’s, Teachers, Senior Staff, Principals, Vice-Principals and Program Staff – came together to learn from one another. It was an incredible day, and it is due to the vast array of interests, passions, talents, and skills that exist within our Board.

George Couros certainly set the tone for the day. Not only did he give us a lot to think about, but I think his message validated our purpose, and echoed the sentiments of many within our board.

One of the key pieces that I took away from that day, is that by connecting with one another, either F2F or via technology, we are stronger, more effective, and more efficient because of our ability to learn from on another.

As we move through the remaining months of this school year, it is my hope that you remained buoyed by the energy, knowledge and excitement that came for learning from our peers. I also hope that you manage to remain connected, and continue to make new connections with staff across the board so we can continue to move forward in our shared vision.

Thank you for being such an important part of a very successful and meaningful Professional Development day.



Amplifying Our Learning

What a thrill it is to sit with this large, focused group of Grade 6 Teachers that are committed to modifying their practice as we share their learnimarshall-amp-fridge-1ng, and the learning of their students by blogging.

As we learn together, we will be able to ‘amplify’ our learning by reaching a larger, authentic audience.

Your school-based trainers and NGL Coaches are here to support you in your blogging adventures.  Turn it up!

Not a Secret: Code!

As the week that was ‘An Hour Of Code’ came and went, 10’s of millions of students were engaged in coding activities of every shape, size and entCoding Botry point. A self-proclaimed ‘non-coder’, I took it upon myself to engage my class in coding activities from the only entry point I knew – stories.

We began with a cursory conversation around coding language, and the students quickly schooled me on their awareness that computers speak in a series of ones and zeros, and that there are no room for inferences. We had some fun with that one, programming human movement in, around, and outside the classroom. Movements that required background information and inferences quickly became comical.

From there we transferred our written language ‘code’ into Hopscotch, using coding blocks to replicate the movements and tasks that we had our classmates perform. Truthfully, some of the output looked a little less than complex – but the fact of the matter is, we completed tasks in a coding environment that met a need.

Our journey is just beginning, and we currently moving toward flow charts that create a ‘choose-your-own-adventure’ story through a series of If/Then statements which we will then input into a coding app. I am looking forward to the results!

If you are looking to justify the movement to code, here are a number of skills that your students will use, gain and improve upon by experimenting with coding:

  • learning is a process and not a product
  • take complex ideas and break them down into simpler parts
  • collaborate with others
  • how to keep persistent and persevere in the face of frustration
  • become fluent with technologies
  • express ideas in new environments
  • demonstrate creativity in problem solving and the product/output

So, jump in, have fun, and allow the students to lead the way by sharing in the teaching and learning of coding in your classroom. If you’re looking for resources, check out my tweets from this week. I’ve included some great links to some rich resources.


A Great Starting Point


As much as we often try to steer the conversation away from a lengthy list of apps, and more toward the pedagogy involved, we do understand the need for a well-stocked tool box.

If you need a place to start, try this EdTechTeacher resources to search out Apps based on academic subject, topic, or learning activity.


Unpacking our Learning

TPACKThe last few learning sessions  that we, as an NGL group, have shared together have been quite inspiring! The ‘adult-learning model’ or ‘go where you grow’ philosophy, combined with the energy created when like-minded people share their expertise and ask questions of each other, has generated some real excitement for the teaching and learning we are doing as a team.

As you continue to unpack your learning, feel free to reach out to your Tech Coaches and peers to push forward with new and exciting ways to engage your students and make their learning more visible.

When we look at our classrooms through the TPACK lens, and reflect on our practices in a way that continually combine our content and pedagogical expertise with new and emerging technologies, we begin to see real change.


With respect to the SAMR model, it’s okay to begin by substituting tech strategies, or augmenting your existing tasks and assignments. But as we move forward together, ask yourself how you can consider transformational practices that move toward Modification and Redefinition through the use of 21st century strategies. And remember, it’s not just the tasks you are considering, but the ways that individual students can transform their learning (with respect to the SAMR model) one task at a time. That is, by differentiating the process and the product, you allow students to redefine their learning in a way that is personal and meaningful to them.

In the meantime, stay connected. Share your learning. Ask questions. Release some of the control and responsibilities to your students. And most of all, have fun trying something new!

Looking for new ideas and resources? Follow me on Twitter!

The Next Step in Next Generation Learning



Much has been made of the central role of the iPad in our next generation learning initiative. And, as much as our technology rollout has been significant in both a physical and pedagogical sense, NGL is about so much more than the tool itself!

Remember that the iPad is only one of many technologies that we carry in our teacher tool belt. And, in truth, the technologies that existed before the iPad, were also designed to make our work flow, communication, and creativity more efficient and visible. Think -Smart Board, Clickers, Light Scribe Pen, and even white boards/markers. So, should the iPad be the central player in your 21st-Century learning environment? We’d say “not necessarily.”  (See the lack of a committed response there? 😉 Previous technologies (including the light bulbs in your classroom) are just there – and are integrated seamlessly into the things we do with and for our students. We’d argue that the iPads should fall into that category, and that the emphasis falls upon making thinking and learning visible in a shared learning environment.

Last week, in the company of the other NGL coaches, I travelled to the EdTechTeacher iPad Summit in Boston, MA. It was a wonderful learning and networking opportunity, but I walked away with a renewed focus on what it means to be a next generation learner. NGL encompasses growth mindset, agile learning spaces, a shared responsibility for the teaching and learning in the classroom, and it also includes a host of apps, online resources, and devices that redefine our learning spaces and attitudes.

In the days and weeks to follow, we will expand on our learning in what I like to think of as  a “Monday/Someday” approach. There are many things that we feel we can coach you through on a Monday (including “Explain Everything 2.0”, Go Formative, Sketch Noting, etc).  But, there are other goals that we will collaboratively work through in order to achieve them “someday” (soon). Big picture ideas like agile workspaces, growth mindset and design thinking will take some time and effort to integrate as we continue to reflect upon and evolve our practice.

These next steps in Next Generation Learning will ultimately take some time to digest, but in the end, the efforts we make to overlap our technology, content and pedagogy will make for richer learning environments and opportunities.