#ThisSeptemberPrj: A Reflection

For my masters course this summer we were offered a few different options for our final project and in typical fashion I chose the ‘out there‘ option: creating a piece of digital artwork. I had grand plans at first (an interactive online photography display was one of them). The more I thought, the more I realized perhaps simple was better. What if I took some ideas, stories if you will, that I had planned on blogging about and used a visual medium to share them?

So now a couple hundred pictures/crumpled notes/tech meltdowns/late evenings later it’s complete.

The three stories I settled upon:

Click on each to read the story of how the idea developed.

There is something about creating, whether a blog post, a presentation or a 10 second Instagram animation, that feels very vulnerable. Will anyone see it? Will people like it? Is it really original? Is it  worth putting out there? It’s been a reminder that first and foremost I have to create for myself, reflect on my learning and share the experience. Even if it makes it’s way to just one person, it will be worthwhile.

If you do make your way to the clips, I hope they act as reminders of the possibilities of the digital tools around us, the wonder and complexities of the 21st century child and how each of us can be a champion for one child.


You can see the complete project, including the digital tools used and how to engage with each at tinazita.wix.com/this-september.

#ThisSeptemberPrj: Relationship Remix

I have watched Rita Pierson’s TED talk at least a dozen times and every time it still gets me. I remember the first time I watched it, between the tears, I felt like I couldn’t stop nodding my head. I have been lucky in my various educational experiences to feel those champions cheering me on so as you spoke to the power of relationships, I could see those teachers standing in front of me. As my role has changed over the years, it isn’t young learners in front of me each day but I hope I have championed a learner or two along the way.

It’s easy to get lost in the busyness of the day to day so I’ve taken some of my favourite sound bites and re-mixed them with other clips online as a reminder this September. I am probably one of the worst, but this September I really want to remember the power of relationships, connections and the need to inspire risk taking and confidence. 

I hope you enjoy!

If it does not load below, please click here: Realtionship Remix with Mozilla Popcorn Maker

#ThisSeptemberPrj: How Will You Use Me?

I remember being at a conference, and a speaker sharing that an iPad was a portable media production machine (not a direct quote). What a wonderful image of possibilities. I still find a lot of students haven’t experienced the many amazing possibilities to create. Often their experiences are around Clash of Clans, Youtube and What’s App. To a lot of educators, they may seem like a consumption device as well.

How could I quickly, in a fun way show what was possible with a device?

Click here to view the clip on Instagram: How will you use me this year?

I am very grateful there is no video footage of me creating the clip earlier today. A few hours snapping at a step ladder and the clip was complete.

I tried to choose the objects purposefully and link them each to apps I have used. Check out the collection here. What would you add?

I look forward to constantly expanding my toolbox and being vowed by the possibilities, usually introduced by the youngest learners.

So many possibilities!



#ThisSeptemberPrj: My Wish

IMG_0710So there has been this post-it note sitting on my counter for about two months now. Over the past year I have been involved in a lot of conversations around the purpose of education or a philosophy of 21st century teaching. How does it align with the basics? What is necessary? What has changed?

Whenever I tried to answer the question, I would get stuck on the words and I realized maybe I needed to look at it differently. What did I want for my nephews? For the kids I’ve taught and know? I started jotting down ideas for my wish and that’s where it ended  till now.

So when I started the project I knew that this would be the clip that I wanted to create. Something about a wish felt liberating. You aren’t constrained to the structures we often bring into conversations about education and it’s purpose. It also allowed me to look at a bigger picture and how we all, educators, aunts, parents, grandparents, family friends, play a role in  a child’s education. 

So after some awkward moments acting like a tourist in my own city, here it is:

For more check out the My Wish page on the project website.


Lead Like No One is Watching

My dad loves to sing: top of his lungs, six in the morning, spot him in a crowd of 200 kind of singing. Music has always been a part of his life since he was young. He is a great singer. I am not.

As we were at an event this weekend and he was singing passionately, it was interesting to watch the crowd. The first person turned, then another. Quick glances over their shoulder continued to follow. A stern look when he couldn’t resist joining the youth choir in singing. I asked my dad if he noticed and of course he didn’t. I wish I had inherited that trait.

Over the last few weeks as I have been reading Tribes by Seth Godin, I have been reminded how leadership can sometimes feel uncomfortable like the quick glances over the shoulder when you are singing passionately.

There was a quote that really caught me off guard.


For a long time I have felt that those uncomfortable moments mean I have been doing it all wrong. Somehow I have had this image of the perfect leader being one who is charismatic and can convince the crowd to follow them. Seth Godin and my dad have reminded me when you lead passionately it won’t make sense to everyone all the time. It won’t always be comfortable. Some may turn around and give you that stern look when you join in.

I need to remember to lead like no one is watching.

June Comes the Same Time Every Year

I feel like I have neglected this blog a little in the last month. It isn’t for a lack of ideas but rather the right words. So on this last day of the school year I’m taking a chance and not waiting for the right words. Here it goes.

I have a colleague that loves to remind us that “September comes the same time every year.” No need to panic or act ill prepared because it always comes at the same time. I think for me the saying should be “June comes at the same time every year.” It may be the goodbyes or the reflecting while writing my report for the year, but around this time I always have this frantic panic that I have run out of time.

Have I done enough? Have I made a change? Could I have done it differently?

No matter my role, I have the same feeling whether it is 20 beautiful grade one eyes staring back or the 47 schools on my report.

So knowing that “June comes at the same time every year” I’m trying to change my bad habits. As I was procrastinating from report writing once again yesterday I stumbled upon a great quote.

For a moment, instead of focusing on what I need to do differently, I’ll focus on the small things that have made this year a great year.

Just a few:

  • Peel21st Storifies: I loved looking through all the amazing ideas on Friday morning, seeing the growth and learning and sharing it with the community. It was my Friday morning feel good moment. I can’t wait to see what happens next year! Here is the collection
  • Twitter Chats: I have to admit there was always a slight worry about half an hour before our #peel21st twitter chats that no one would come, but every single time you proved me wrong. It is amazing to think that folks are willing to give up prime time to share their practice and thoughts. In addition to the great dialogue, I feel I have connected with more of you this year through those mad dash conversations.
  • Uniac Sunrise Group: Once a month, a small group of us in one of my family of schools would get in our cars before the sun rose to share and learn together. I am not only grateful that they dragged themselves out of bed for our 8 am meetings but also for an amazing group of educators willing to take a risk together. Our last day of exploration was everything I could hope for from an open ended learning can be for adults: guided conversations and explorations. Thank you!
  • 6Cs Friends: When I had a crazy ideas to blog through the 6Cs @debbieaxiak, @jrichea, @MatthewOldridge jumped on board with no questions asked. I think it’s time to go back and re-read our posts. Being able to collaboratively explore what we really mean by these 6Cs was an incredible learning experience. We need another idea now folks!
  • Home Base: In supporting 47 schools I don’t get to do frequent repeat visits, but I have a few that allow me to come back. In the craziness of driving around it is wonderful to be able to come in and have a kid say “Good Morning Miss Zita”. It is even more wonderful to be able to take risks, learn together and watch the growth that happens once I leave. To all my home base classrooms, thank you for letting me crash every now and then. And to the educators in the classroom, thank you for letting me explore and learn alongside you. I know my ideas were crazy at times!
  • Smiling Faces: It is wonderful to be able to see those learning moments in the classroom. That moment when a spark lights in a child, their eyes start to sparkle and that “I’m smart” grin grows across their face. I have had the privilege to observe some amazing moments of learning this year from a kid schooling me in the Makey Makey board (of course you can have 2 grounds), to students finding their voice with a new app. I need a better way to document those amazing moments next year!
  • Every year I think I have reached my max but there seem to be more and more wonderful educators willing to learn and grow together. It has been amazing meeting each of you. To those who have suffered through my passionate monologues, thank you.

As I reflect on the small things that have made my year great, I am reminded of all the wonderful small things I have observed over this year in #peel21st. Change never is individual. Our collective learning and explorations have made this a wonderful year in #peel21st. I can’t wait for what is ahead for us. Thank you.

Have a wonderful summer!


Great things are done by a series of small things brought together. Vincent Van Gogh









Yesterday we had two learning opportunities for staff to share strategies and ideas for gaming, gamification and coding in the classroom. Now I have to confess, I’m not a gamer. It may be hard to believe but I have never played Angry Birds or Candy Crush. My nephew will always know more about Minecraft then me. I know there are many benefits but not being immersed in the world myself, I think sometimes I miss some of the potential.

“Ooooo” he said.

I was rushing out of our network meeting as I bumped in to two friendly high schoolers. You could tell they knew something was just not right but curiosity kept them from leaving. I politely said the library was closed and they politely responded with ok.

On their way out, one gentlemen turned around and said “Miss, would you mind telling us what is going on?”

“It is a group of teachers looking at how they can use games, gamification and coding in school.” I responded.

You should have seen his eyes light up! “Ooooo”, he said tapping his chin. “I better leave them to it so they can use it with us.” 

Part of me wanted to invite them to stay, to hear from teachers and kids, to share their own expertise but left with a perfectly timed reminder of why our conversations yesterday were so important.

As I left I wondered when the last time was that I went ‘Ooooo’ about a learning prospect.