Stop Pretending and #MakeSchoolDifferent

Please join me in this new journey. My first blog although this account was created two years ago.

When Jason Wigmore nominated me more than a month ago, I had no clue what this topic was all about. I read his post and clicked on Jonathan So’s blog. That lead me to Aviva Dunsiger. Then, to Donna Miller Fry. Lastly, I ended up on Scott McLeod.

Thank you Jason for nominating me. Please visit his blog about Stop Pretending and #MakeSchoolDifferent as well.

As educators, we have to Stop Pretending that

1. Using technology in the classroom is a one time event

What is slowly shaping my new thinking is by doing self-reflection. How much information do I get now through the use of technology? I never felt this informed before. Why would I limit the learning that can take place with the use of technology as a tool in the classroom? I should not have the iPad cart as a treat. It should seamlessly be a part of our everyday tasks (whenever available) just like our pen and paper. The integration of technology in the classroom doesn’t mean that we are going to get rid of the use of pencil and paper. One of my favourites is Brian Aspinall’s tweet, “Yes, kids love technology but they also love handstands and mud puddles. It’s all about balance.”

2. Students learn best when they are sitting at their own desks

I grew up sitting on my chair with my desk in front of me the whole day in the classroom. The only time I remember getting off my chair was during outdoor play, going to the gym or any activity outside the four walls of our classroom. This year, I began to loosen up more. My students do independent, partner or group work on the carpet, on the floor or using other desks aside from their own. Still, they have their own assigned seating spot but there are more movements in my classroom  now. As long as they can handle working in any space in the classroom, each student has the option to where he or she can be productive. It is one of the many ways they can practise self-regulation too. One or two still choose to work at their own desks. That’s okay. I see myself doing that as well.


3. We do not have to walk the talk

Here I am talking and encouraging my Grade 2’s to share their thinking in our Class Blog.Yet, I don’t have one of my own. My 31 students dove in with their heads first and 95% of them are swimming along. They are so excited to talk about other people’s posts on Monday morning. Teachers hear them talking about it during outdoor recess. All of them are now blogging. Some of them learned how to attach a link on their posts. As I was pondering on what to write here, I saw this post from George Couros. The picture he uses speak a lot about us wanting and talking about change but no one is ready to change.

4. As educators, we do not need to do some online collaboration

How could we not this days? Twitter has given me so much access to great people who have done wonderful things to make school a fun and better place for educators and students. I still consider myself a beginner in online collaboration but has open so many windows of opportunity for me and my students. Just this morning, I made some interactions with people like Nick Brierley and Brett Salakas from Australia through #aussieED, Christopher Martin and Mr. B from the United States of America through #sunchat. A lot of learning in a matter of less than 60 minutes in the comfort of my home.

5. Teacher feedback is more valuable than peer feedback

The push for math talk in the classroom gave me no option to try peer feedback. Since I welcome change, I took the risk. At the beginning, I was in doubt and would jump in to correct errors right away. After a while, I learned to step back and listen to conversations of students using the math language during group discussions, think-pair-share or think-pair-share-square. Not only in math, but this is also evident when students leave feedback to the posts on our Class Blog. Students are excited to read comments on their posts because they express personal thoughts and feelings about the topic. These things do not happen overnight. We practise and once in a while, need to visit the criteria as a reminder. All these things are a work in progress. Change will always be!

Over a month before I get this thought together. Finally, it is here. We connect with educators in our district and around the world, I now call on

Tina Zita

Marc Lindsay

Justin Birckbichler

Nick Brierley

Brett Salakas

Leave a line or two that you are trying to #MakeSchoolDifferent.


8 thoughts on “Stop Pretending and #MakeSchoolDifferent

  1. Jason Wigmore

    Yes, I’m glad that you are blogging! See, just a little nudge is sometimes all we need. I love your 5 points. They highlight the fact that as teachers we need to value student voice and allow them to use that voice daily. As teachers, education is changing quickly and we need to make sure that we are giving students the best education. That doesn’t mean adopting everything new, but carefully testing and discussing new approaches, apps etc. with other educators. That discussion might happen during school hours, but now more than ever we can connect 24/7 with educators around the world as we saw this morning during #AussieEd and #Sunchat.
    Now I cant let you off will all praise. If technology is not an event how can we ensure that when we are limited by the amount of tech we currently have in schools? (Not sure if I have an answer, but something to ponder)
    I look forward to reading more of your thoughts.

    1. Vilma Manahan Post author

      Thank you for not giving up on the excuses that I have been using for more than a month now with you to blog. Now that I learned a new skill, I can’t go back! Both the chats, #sunchat and #aussieED, this morning were very informative and fun. That was my turning point to finish this.

      The truth is, technology access is still very limited for most of us. When I started using the iPad and Netbooks with my Grade 2 students, every time they see the tech cart in our room, they will ask me, “Are we using the iPad/Netbook today?” But now, because the use is more purposeful and meaningful, they ask me, “Are we going on KidBlog?” It’s not the tool that they see anymore but what they can do out of it.

  2. Shaun Grant

    Great post! Just like you, I was nominated for this #makeschooldifferent challenge, and I had never written a blog before. Here was my attempt:

    I agree that Twitter has been an amazing tool for getting teachers to collaborate together online. I learn so much every single day from the amazing people I keep meeting through the Twitterverse. I also agree with you when it comes to encouraging others to plan for activities that will have their students moving about the room.

    1. Vilma Manahan Post author

      Twitter has brought people and educators alike to collaborate regardless of distances. I see myself sitting down for a couple of hours during workshops and realize how my students feel doing the same inside the classroom.

  3. Andrew Dobbie

    Wonderful! It makes me happy to hear that you remember how awesome it was to be a kid. Technology opens previously impossible avenues for us to explore with our students:) As teachers, we should prompt and guide student inquiry.


    1. Vilma Manahan Post author

      As much as I read online, I like flipping pages of books as well. As a teacher, we will always have a kid in us! It’s the key in this profession.

  4. Steven Proud

    Your blog was refreshing and had good open ideas about how a good person can make all the difference to the children of the future. I just wish you had been my daughters teacher when she was younger. Thanks for your time – keep trying new things. About the technology in the classroom: I 100% agree. With my daughter, she is often caught forgetting the ratty old textbooks home to study from. If she does bring them home, she’s not allowed to mark in them – soo stupid. At work I use Adobe “standard” and everything that is knowledge based is in PDF format. I’ll read 300 page manuals on my PC all while using the adobe software to create bookmarks, highlight, add pictures from other sources and essentially create references to key notes of importance. The next time I open the same document 3 months later – viola – all my notes are there and it’s sticks in my head from when I made them-and the pages aren’t torn or the book old it’s all still on its original shape. With the technology putt there, school books should be a thing if the past and it all on the devices that the students take hind with them OR are on an ICloud to view at school or Home.

    1. Vilma Manahan Post author

      Thank you for taking the time to read my take on how as an educator, I can #MakeSchoolDifferent. I love to learn and discover new things through the use of technology. At the same time, I also like keeping a magazine and some books next to my bedside table. It’s a sense of balance. Providing an option for the students to extend their learning through the use of technology opens so many doors for them and teachers as well.
      I am not going to rob the opportunity from my student to learn beyond what a textbook can provide because using tech in my classroom is beyond my comfort zone. My students and I can learn from each other making them accountable of their own learning.


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