Just Right – A Reminder


We know the story of Goldilocks. This little blonde girl somehow is wandering without any adult supervision.  Her exhaustion gives her permission to break in to a house, leading her to find the ‘JUST RIGHT’ things she was craving. Crazy when you think about it but I love Anthony Browne‘s backstory if you have never read it.

There is some thing familiar to Goldilock’s JUST RIGHT moments that makes us keep coming back. To be honest I don’t really remember the story as a kid, but I know I’ve used it or heard it dozens of times as an adult. As Goldilock’s Principles, Strategies and Rules popped up in a quick image search, the idea seems to fit many worlds and situations. Maybe it is because the concept seems universal. Who isn’t in search for that JUST RIGHT pair of jeans, work out, car, home, book? Last week I was reminded that there are  JUST RIGHT edtech moments too.

It was a Thursday Lunch and Learn and I was nervous. There was a tool I had been introduced to a year before but never found the right setting or group. It was an audio feedback tool that allowed you to annotate artifacts with personalized written, audio feedback or lesson links. I was a little apprehensive to share it.I must have re-read the email request a dozen times. It wasn’t an idea I had tried, tested and perfected but I couldn’t think of a better option for what they were searching for. The day came and as we chatted, the questions started flowing. We started exploring the different uses. We signed in as student’s would to see their experience. It was so awesome to see it was possibly a JUST RIGHT fit for some of the tasks they had ahead.

Friday I was sitting with a few colleagues that work in a very unique situation. I had grand plans of what we would work on for the afternoon. The go to standards; the newest and brightest tools. We started chatting and sharing about our learning communities. As I listened I realized there was one particular need that kept coming up and the  JUST RIGHT tool to address it may not be what I had planned, but rather a simple, free app. We tried it out and I could see the excitement growing. I love those moments when educators see the possibilities, the potential the tool has to enhance the learning experience. It was a very different tool from Thursday’s Lunch and Learn but none the less it was JUST RIGHT.


In Edtech we sometimes have a tendency to create really long lists of possible options or champion the newest and greatest. I know I’m to blame as much as the next person. I love to find new tools and think of the possibilities. Sometimes we feel we need to use a tool because others are championing it. It’s been tweeted by our role model or a district leader so it must be the right fit. Sometimes we feel we need to show we are innovative by using the newest, flashiest tool and other times we keep reusing our GO TO tool because it just works.

Last week’s experiences reminded me that maybe innovation in education is less about the flash of an app or the release date of a tool, and more about finding that JUST RIGHT tool that will enhance the learning experience.

How would learning change, how would our discussions change if we focused on the JUST RIGHT tool, at the JUST RIGHT time, for the JUST RIGHT learner?

Grateful for the reminder that maybe more than anything my role is to slow down, listen and find the JUST RIGHT tool for the learning & learner.


Undercover Innovation

As we approach our first online book club meeting this Tuesday night for The Innovator’s Mindset, it was fun to hear some of the chatter on Voxer (although I have to admit I am failing at it at this point-sorry folks). After listening to the conversation yesterday evening I had a variety of questions and thoughts swirling in my head. George posed a question to the group towards the end of the night about examples of innovation and it got me thinking.

I think often when we hear of innovation we think of the BIG stuff: the iPad, 3D Printers, robots, no desk classrooms of the world. I wonder though if more often than not what we experience is undercover innovation.

I received an email last night with some of the great work from our SWST team in Peel (check out an example here: Mindfulness @Forest Glen P.S.). As I was scanning through the Smores I had a bit of a flashback. It was probably 3 years ago that Shannon, Janet and myself were squished in a small room along with a few others around a table trying to explore how the tool could work for their practice. They were willing to take a risk and try something different, unconventional even. It was a new way to look at sharing a story. A way to bring images, sound, video and most importantly more student voice to a traditional university style paper report. Many are probably unaware of the story of how things got started for the SWST team or even the exploring, play and risk taking they had to engage in to get to the report to work in a new format. It was that willingness from the team to take a risk that resulted in other departments trying the tool and subsequently our board updates being shared in a Smore format last year. If you mentioned Smores today it may seem common place. I doubt it would be considered innovative. It feels a little like undercover innovation that many have missed. To others they may see the final product but not the work that went in earlier.

I wonder how many times we miss those undercover innovations in our system. Do we focus so much on the BIG fancy innovations that we miss the not as fancy changes in practice? How can we showcase the journey and not just the end product? How can we help these undercover stories of innovation spread? Is it as simple as sharing our stories? Is one kind of innovation better than another?

Do you see undercover innovations around you?

When we think differently about the things that we are used to seeing daily, we can create innovative learning opportunities-for our teachers and students.

Chapter 1 of The Innovator’s Mindset – George Couros

I can’t wait to explore the topic further this Tuesday night. I hope you join in on the Twitter back channel chat. 

What does innovation mean to me?

As we start our book talk about the Innovator’s Mindset next week, we thought we would warm up by blogging about our personal definitions of innovation. Here is my attempt but make sure to jump on over and check out the other posts as well.

FC394091-982F-4BF8-906F-D27E97A855AF.fullIt seemed like an easy prompt at the time: define innovation. I know we see the word used so often both in education and the world all around that it’s hard not to stumble upon an example whether it be a story about the iPhone to how to use alligator clips for anything but a clip.

Does innovation always mean a new idea? Can it be built upon our learning in the past? I went back to a post I had written a few years back after visiting one of the most innovative places I know: the very brief DigiPlaySpace at Bell Lightbox every March/April. I think many times innovation in my practice does look like bending the rules, taking an idea or a concept and adapting it, changing it, tweaking it, remixing it. I’m challenged more and more that maybe innovation does look like something completely different but at it’s core are human truths: the need to feel like you belong, to communicate, to play and experiment.

Maybe it doesn’t matter as much what I see innovation as, whether it is a completely new idea or something remixed from the past but rather that we are finding new ideas to engage in the learning process for kids.

“Innovation can come from either ‘invention’ (something totally new) or ‘iteration’ (a change of something that already exists), but if it does not meet the idea of ‘new and better’, it is not innovative.”

Chapter 1 – The Innovator’s Mindset by George Couros

Make sure to make your way over to the other blogs

Stacey Wallwin

Jennifer Casa-Todd

Donna Fry 

Paul McGuire

Patrick Miller

Mark Carbone

as well as to  ossemooc to read more ideas and reflections. I’m sure my definition will change over the week.