About the Author
Passionate and curious about technology, smiles, special education, differentiated instruction, forests, graphic novels, accessibility, anti-oppression, and warm beverages. Can often be found laughing with young people and improvising songs on the spot. @teach_tomorrow

80. Nurturing democracy with Ken Boyd from CIVIX Canada

How can educators nurture a functional democracy when young people struggle to find reliable sources of information? To dig into this question, I am joined by Ken Boyd from CIVIX Canada. 

Ken Boyd is the Director of Education at CIVIX, a Canadian charity that develops experiential learning programs to help students develop skills and habits of informed citizenship. He researches and develops materials for two programs: PoliTalks, a program that helps students develop the skills needed to have constructive discussions about political and social issues, and CTRL-F, a digital media literacy skills program that helps students identify mis- and disinformation online. He also runs training sessions and workshops with teachers and students to teach them about digital media literacy and how to navigate an increasingly complex online world. Ken holds a PhD in philosophy from the University of Toronto. Before moving to the non-profit sector, he taught philosophy at a number of universities across Canada, and was most recently a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Southern Denmark, where he worked on research projects about the barriers to communicating scientific information online. He is also a writer of public philosophy, and a regular contributor to The Prindle Post, a digital publication focused on ethical issues in the news.

CIVIX is well known to many Canadian educators for taking real-life political events and turning them into teachable moments that bring democracy alive in classrooms. Their Student Vote program is very likely how you heard about their work, but in this episode I speak with their Director of Education, Ken Boyd, about CTRL F, their verification skills program. 

I mention a few times in this episode that we likely need to get Ken Boyd back to do a deeper dive into some of the ideas that we noodle through. We talk about the current information-crisis, lateral reading, the importance of experiential education to democracy, and where to find hope amidst our backdrop of chaos. You definitely will want to stick around for Ken’s ticket out the door where he shares some of the best advice I’ve heard in a while. I know you are going to want to listen carefully to this episode, so maybe have a notebook handy or the notes app on your phone ready to go. 

Things Mentioned in This Episode:

79. Digital literacy and social justice with Dr. Kristen Hawley Turner

How is digital literacy related to social justice? Today on the show I have the honour of sitting down with a leading thinker in education, Dr. Kristen Hawley Turner. 

Dr. Kristen Hawley Turner is a professor of education at Drew University and she is the director of the Drew Writing Project, which is a chapter of The National Writing Project. In this conversation we explore the terrain of digital literacy, its links to social justice, and how teachers must reimagine what our essential job descriptions are if we are going to meet the needs of the learners in our classrooms. 

As we are both parents, Kristen and I also get into our roles with our children and what can be done in the home to augment and reinforce critical digital literacy to help our young people thrive.

I think you will find yourself nodding along in agreement as you listen to Dr. Hawley Turner explains her work and thinking in this conversation that I am so delighted to share with you. 

Things Mentioned in This Episode:

“No Longer a Luxury: Digital Literacy Can’t Wait”
Connected Learning Alliance 
Screentime Research Group
Digital Literacies Collaborative

77. Illuminating humanity through journalism with Anita Li

How can the microcosm of the classroom prepare us for the world at large? Today on the show I am joined by news entrepreneur Anita Li. 

My friends, you are in for a real treat today with this episode. If you have been listening to this podcast for any amount of time, you likely know a few things about me: 1) I am obsessed with journalism. 2) I deeply believe that unpacking our identities matters in regards to how we read and write the world 3) that I see digital literacy as an essential skill in today’s world. 

So it makes sense that I have been following Anita Li’s work for some time now. Anita is the publisher, founder, CEO, and editor in chief of The Green Line Toronto: a hyper local independent news outlet. I first encountered her when I had my students watch her TedX talk on the power of digital journalism–and not only did my Grade 8 class at the time deeply appreciate her message on digital composing, but they kept coming back to her ideas related to why representation matters in newsrooms.

In this interview we cover a lot of ground: we get into the ever-evolving nature of journalism, how growing up in Scarborough prepared her for a career of curiosity and connection, as well as some of the ways that the shift towards digital composing may have transformed writing for the better. 

Even if you don’t teach journalism explicitly to your students, this is an important conversation about identity, digital composing, and the role of place in our writing. 

Things Mentioned in This Episode:

What Is Journalism (from the Canadian Association of Journalists)
Binders Full of Journalists
Sign Up for Anita’s Newsletter (The Other Wave)
BIPOC Journalists Youth Internship

76. “Teaching Writers Speak” with Ty Walkland

What is the relationship between writing, teaching, and hosting a podcast? Today on the show I sit down with the Teaching Writers Speak podcast host, Ty Walkland. 


One of the gifts of starting this PhD has been helping to produce another podcast, Teaching Writers Speak. On this podcast, Ty Walkland expertly interviews teachers, scholars, and community educators about the practice and craft of teaching writing. Teaching Writers Speak has put out a first season of episodes and, while I know I’m biased, it’s a really excellent show that explores the complexities of what it means to be a teacher of writing.


In this episode Ty Walkland and I chat about being a teacher of writing, how he has recovered from the tyranny of writing assessments as a young person, and what has surprised him about hosting a podcast. He also explains why he initially said an emphatic NO to hosting a podcast when first approached…if you have ever thought about hosting your own podcast, hearing his take on this might just convince you to just give it a try.


I think you will be able to tell right away when listening to this episode that Ty is a wonderful human that I thoroughly enjoy getting to talk with. So let’s get right into it: click the Soundcloud link to take you to this interview. 


Things Mentioned in this Show:

75. When teaching is a passion with Margaret from My Call to Teach

What does it mean to be called to the teaching profession and how can we sustain that passion when things get hard? Today on the show I am in conversation with Margaret from My Call to Teach.

I really loved this conversation with Margaret. I initially wanted to have her to talk about a news article writing unit she did with her students, but as I started to research her, I came to realize that Margaret has a powerful story that I think all of us in this profession can learn something from.

She started out in the corporate world, realized that teaching was her calling, so went back to school to become an elementary teacher. Pretty soon, she noticed a gap in the resources available to teachers in Ontario and so started to sell her resources to other teachers. We get into more of her story in the interview, but this conversation serves as fantastic insight into how teachers can find their passion in the profession, lead from the middle, and how serving other people can be a restorative form of self-care. 

This conversation is coming out in June and so all teachers listening are likely needing some easy things to do for the final days with their students. Stick around for the end of the conversation when Margaret shares one idea that you just have to say YES to.

I’m so glad you are here. Let’s jump right in.

Links to Things Mentioned in this Show:

74. Advising a gay-straight alliance with James Potteiger

How can Gay-Straight alliances support students and make schools more inclusive spaces for all? Today on the show I speak with GSA advisor and coach James Potteiger

There is a lot happening in schools right now that put our LGBTQ students at risk. So I’m thrilled to get to share this conversation I had with James about his work with GSAs. James has been running a GSA at his school in Pennsylvania for the past two years and he shares the ways the alliance has improved his school for all students, the role that the GSA plays for young people in his school, and James’ journey towards running the GSA––which is especially powerful to hear since he identifies as a straight, white, cis-gender man with an Evangelical background.

I left this conversation feeling inspired, hopeful, and so deeply grateful for how people like James are making all of our schools better places. Click on the Soundcloud link to hear the full episode!

Things Referenced In This Episode:

73. Journalistic learning with Dr. Ed Madison

How can teachers use journalism and reverse mentorship to transform student learning? Today on the show I am joined by Dr. Ed Madison to explore this question and so much more. 

If you ever wanted a reason to start a podcast, this might be it: for the past several months, I’ve been reading and writing about journalism in schools and I’ve been coming across several articles by this scholar out in Oregon, Ed Madison. I’ve talked about his work back on episode 65: The Social Practices of Journalistic Writing. But here’s the thing…those people writing those articles and books and doing those cool things in education, they are just real people. So I was over the moon when Dr. Madison agreed to come on the show to talk about his research and work with The Journalistic Learning Initiative. 

Let me tell you a little about Dr. Ed Madison. Dr. Madison is an Associate professor in the school of journalism and communication at the university of Oregon and one of the founders of The Journalistic Learning Initiative. JLI empowers students to discover their voice, improve academic outcomes, and engage in self-directed learning through project-based storytelling. 

Ed got his start in the media world covering initial stories from the Watergate scandal when he was a high school intern for a local breakfast television program and at 22 was a founding producer on CNN and went on to work on many many projects from game shows to talk shows and seemingly everything in between. 

In this interview we talk about what reverse mentorship is and what it can do for teacher and student learning, we get into some of the challenges and opportunities with teaching young people responsible communication on social media, and the ever changing landscape of student press.

If you work with young people, if you care about media literacy, if you are curious about non-traditional models for teacher learning this is an important episode to listen to. I’m so excited to share this conversation with you. Click on the Soundcloud link to listen to our full conversation.

Things Mentioned in This Episode:

Bobkowski, P. S., & Miller, P. R. (2016). Civic Implications of Secondary School Journalism. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 93(3).

Saunders, J. M., Ash, G. E., Salazar, I., with student authors, Pruitt, R., Wallach, D., Breed, E., Saldana, S., & Szachacz, A. (2017). “We’re Already Somebody”: High School Students Practicing Critical Media Literacy IRL (in Real Life). Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 60(5), 515–526.


71. The joys of being a B-minus teacher with Patti Firth

Why should we fully embrace the joys of being a B-minus teacher? Today on the show I speak with the awesome Patti Firth, founder, CEO, and owner of Madly Learning. 

I found my new friend Patti Firth like I meet pretty much any new human in my life: through the wonderful world of teachergram. Patti started out as a leading Canadian voice in the world of of inquiry education blogging, but has expanded to hosting a podcast, creating both beautiful and effective curriculum resources for teachers, sharing strategies through her YouTube channel, and she does this all while teaching a ⅘ split class here in Southern Ontario.

In this conversation, we cover a lot of ground. We talk how Patti turned her passion supporting teachers into what Madly Learning is today, how she embraces not even being a B-minus teacher, but often a C+ teacher, and we also get into some real talk about what teachers should consider before putting themselves “out there” in the world of teachergram. Stick around until the end to hear Patti’s take on why we should stop teaching writing in discrete units! 

Patti is a deeply relatable, relevant, and important voice in the world of Canadian education, so let’s get right into it. Click on the Soundcloud link to listen to my conversation with Patti Firth.

Things Mentioned in this Show:

Madly Learning website 

Teaching with Madly Learning podcast

Madly Learning YouTube channel

Madly Learning on Instagram

70. Teacher learning that is actually useful

What happens when educators are given the time and support to address complex dilemmas in their practice? 

Today on the show we have a panel discussion celebrating 10 years of Cohort 21.

A huge thank you to Garth Nichols, Justin Medved, Ashley Domina, Ashley Bailey Davis. Laura Mustard, Melissa Jolicoeur, and Derek Doucet for being part of this conversation today.

If you want to continue the conversation, come find me on Instagram or find Cohort 21 by either going to or find them on their Instagram page–I love it when folks who are listening to the show tag me and who I’m talking to on the socials and share their takeaways, feedback, and insights. It’s how we build community, how we learn socially, and how we make each other better! 

That’s all the time we have for today folks, keep trying to answer those big, complex questions and remember we are teaching tomorrow.

69. When teachers identify as writers with Jen Laffin

How might we improve the teaching of writing by identifying as writers ourselves? Today on the show I speak with Jen Laffin, founder of Teach Write. 

If there is one thing that I know to be true, it is that identifying as a writer has profoundly shaped how I teach writing. I love writing, I embrace the struggle, and I have always shared that process with my classes. But stepping out of the classroom this year and looking more broadly at writing instruction through this PhD research is showing me that this “teacher as writer” stance is not commonly held. 

It is no great wonder that the Instagram algorithm led me to find Jen Laffin and Teach Write. Jen was a classroom teacher for 9 years and transitioned into mentoring teachers and designing workshops to help teachers create powerful writing practices for young people. 

This conversation is essentially two writing nerds geeking out together about something they both love. I didn’t know Jen before this interview, but as we chatted and laughed and shared stories, I felt like Jen was a long time friend, teacher buddy, and someone that I just wanted to hang out with and write with. I’m pretty confident that after listening along, you will feel the same way. And don’t worry, at the end of the convo, Jen share some ways that you can indeed just hang out and write more with her. 

Enough from me, let’s get into it with Jen Laffin. Click on the SoundCloud link to listen to the full episode:

Things Mentioned in This Show:

Jen’s Upcoming Workshop

Writing Workshop: The Essential Guide by Ralph Fletcher

Feedback That Moves Writers Forward: How to Escape Correcting Mode to Transform Student Writing by Patti McGee