Frequently asked questions

How do I book you for my class or school?


Currently I'm offering workshops to Grade 1-8 classes at schools where I'm booked as a supply teacher. If you're an Ottawa Carleton District School Board teacher, see your principal about options to book me into your class.




How should I prepare for your visit?


I will need access to a multimedia projector, but no other special measures need to be taken. Please send along a class list so I can prep user accounts and other logistics. I'd also be grateful for a note detailing any students who require special attention or accommodations. A warning also that I may want to rearrange desks for optimal viewing of the projector screen. I'll try my best to reset the classroom to its original configuration at the end of the day.




Are your Chromebooks supplied by the school board?


This initiative is a self-funded pilot project, and all of the equipment has been paid for out of my own pocket.




What happens if a computer is damaged in my classroom?


I will be enforcing strict safety rules to minimize the risk of accidental damage, but since these computers are my personal property, I'm bringing them to school at my own risk and expense. I do expect students to treat my equipment with respect, and I reserve the right to withdraw access should students not exercise reasonable care.




Are your Chromebooks the same model as the ones used by the board?


After researching Chromebook specs, I settled on the NL61 from CTL, an Oregon-based manufacturer that specializes in computers for the education market. It boasts ruggedized construction to stand up to the demands of classroom use, and includes a number of advanced features: - Touchscreen - Reversible camera - Support for Android apps




A lot of this sounds frivolous. Why are my kids playing video games at school?


There's a huge difference between PLAYING games and MAKING them. Children who are engaged in coding are learning critical thinking, media awareness, math and language concepts, art and graphic design. They're learning to think logically, to plan ahead, to persevere in the face of obstacles. In addition all my lessons are linked to the Ontario curriculum and to OCDSB exit outcomes. Click here to see Ontario curriculum expectations covered in my Introduction To Coding In Scratch workshop.




What about Easyconnect? The system doesn't let me book my own OT!


While teachers do not have ability to book OTs directly, Principals and VPs retain the authority to do so. The board's policy is not openly advertised (and hence widely misunderstood), but generally this discretionary authorty is permitted under a limited set of circumstances:

  • If the assignment requires a SpecEd certification (eg. a systems class)
  • If special needs are present in the classroom that an OT is uniquely qualified to meet
Administrators confide that these policy loopholes have widened still further as a result of last year's chronic OT shortage, which left principals scrambling to fill vacant positions by any means necessary. By all indiciations, this year's labour market looks even tighter. In any event, it's clear that rules around Easyconnect bookings are less strict than generally understood by teachers. Bottom line: It doesn't hurt to ask.




Is what you're doing really necessary? Isn't coding already being taught in Ontario schools?


At present, the Ontario curriculum makes little specific mention of coding -- a stark contrast to other jurisdictions in Canada and beyond. At present, three Canadian provinces, 9 EU countries, Australia and Singapore have instituted coding as a mandatory subject area beginning at the primary level. Several other Asian countries are formulating similar plans. Having said that, coding is indeed on the Ontario education ministry's radar, and the province has published a number of different guides and resources aimed at encouraging teachers to incorporate this vital skill into their teaching practice. The focus is mainly on integrating coding into existing curriculum areas, particularly math. My issue is that while Ontario is paying lip service to the importance of coding, there is no specific mandate to teach it, and the vast majority of teachers still don't. In the 2017/18 school year, I taught coding concepts to more than 1,000 Ottawa students from grades 1-8, most of whom had little or no coding experience. Teachers are being sent to workshops where they're learning basic coding concepts, but many return with more questions than answers about how to integrate this topic into their existing lesson plans.




Are you free next Tuesday?


Check my online calendar for availability. I will update this regularly as new workshops are booked.




Can I book more than one workshop during the year?


My aim is to visit as many classrooms as possible during the year, so I reserve the right to limit visits to any particular classroom. Should I make a return visit, I'd ideally want to consult with the classroom teacher to create a customized workshop that follows up on our progress from the last session. In some cases I might ask you to select a different type of workshop.





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