Wednesday, 15 November 2017

L is for List (on Twitter)

#NaBloWriMo Day 12...one day early - cause tomorrow is a LONG day.  BTW - I realise this is a little bit of a cheat in my A-Z theme.


I had a conversation with a colleague the other day who said he was going to take a break from Twitter. When I asked him why, he said that he was tired of the “noise”.  While I absolutely see the value in taking a break from social media, I sensed that he didn't really want the break but he felt forced to because of his feed. When I asked if he would unfollow certain people he said for political reasons he could not always do that. I then asked if he created lists on Twitter and he gave me a confused look. It was at this moment that I realized I needed to share this powerful Twitter use.


In Twitter you can create public or private list. You can add people to these lists, they can be people you follow or people you don’t (i.e., you can add someone to a list without having to follow them). Lists that are public are viewable by everyone and can be followed by other people. When you add someone to a public list, they get a notification. Private list are for your eyes only.


I use list for a variety of reasons. When I go to a conference I start a list and add people I interact with. This allows me to remember them if I want to reach out and pick their brains about conversations we had at said conference. It is also helped me out in times when I have run into them at another conference and can't remember their names. I can go back to my list to hep jog my memory. I also have a list called “love to follow”. These are the people I love to follow on Twitter and give me a quick snapshot of the things I really need or want to hear. I have a list that is populated solely of people who teach in my district. When I want to tweet about District initiatives I go to this list when choosing who to tag.


To see your list simply click your profile picture in the top right-hand corner and scroll down to List. From there you will see list you are subscribed to - these include those you created or those you followed that were created by other people. You will also see lists that you have been added to. I often find ones to subscribe to on this tab.


To create a list, or add someone to a list that exist, simply click the three dots beside the follow button on the person’s page. You will be given an option to “add or remove from list...”. From here you will be taken to a page with all of the list you've created. You can add people to lists here (you can choose multiple) and you can also create a new list by pushing the “create lists” button at the bottom.

Lists are really that easy and when used well, they can be very powerful in terms of how you use Twitter and how you seek information.




K is for Keep

#NaBloWriMo Day 11...it is #YRDSBQuest this week so apologies if I seem brief!


When Google Keep became a core app in the GSuite I decided to explore it some more and discover some uses for the classroom.  

Essentially, Keep is a virtual notepad, or sticky notes.  It is a small little tool but quite powerful if you roll it into your GSuite workflow.

Here are 9 things I like:

  1. Take a picture and save to Keep.  This is easy access for board notes you have written and might want to come back to at another time.
  2. The Google Keep Chrome extension!  You know those times you see something on the interwebs and you want to explore it and don't have time or want to come back to it later?  That's where the extension comes in.  Click the icon, type a title and some text and the link is automatically inserted.
  3. Mobile voice notes.  This is only available on mobile devices but it is great.  You can record voice notes that can then be imported into other GSuite apps like Slides and Docs - really great for giving feedback!
  4. Notes can be drawings.  You don't only need to types notes.  You can draw something (think small sketchnotes!) and then write notes underneath.
  5. Archive notes for future use.  I recently co-organized an EdTech camp.  We made all of our to do lists on Keep and then archived them when things were done.  Now we can pull them up next year when we do the camp again.
  6. As a former English teacher I found I often gave the same feedback again and again.  You can make notes of your common feedback comments and then use the Keep notepad in Slides and Docs so import them into student work.
  7. Colour code!  Keep offers a variety of colours (some new ones were just added a little while ago) for your notes.  I find this really helpful for visual cues.  I encourage students to keep notes for different units or subjects in different colours.  There are also labels to help with this.
  8. Although it can be glitchy, there is also a "Grab image text” option.  In this case you can import a picture and when you grab the image text it will convert the text into editable text in your note. Very cool.
  9. Reminders - for those of use with memory challenges! Keep offers location based reminders (remind me when I arrive at school) and time based reminders (remind me at the 1pm -  the beginning of period 3) which is very handy.  That said, I would love if a list could have multiple time based reminders.  (Hear that Google?!)

A lot of this I learned playing, but a lot I learned from Matt Miller, Kasey Bell, Alice Keeler and Eric Curts's blogs - thanks EduHeroes!

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

J is for Jen!

NaBloWriMo Day 10



I was named after my grandmother, Jesse.  My mom thought about calling me Jessica but feared it would be too popular.  As a woman born in the late 70s - Jennifer was definitely not a unique name. 

So, to keep up with my A-Z theme, I thought I would pay homage some of the Jens in my professional life!


  1. Jennifer Casa-Todd, or JCT as I affectionately call her, is the author of Social LEADia: Moving Students from Digital Citizenship to Digital Leadership.  It is a wonderful book about the importance of digical citizenship and encouraging students to not only be responsible digitally, but also to encourage them to be leaders online.  She is an amazing educator and friend.  (She is also the other half of #CDNJens.)
  2. Jennie Magiera and I first met, albeit briefly at ISTE2016, and then connected again in Washington DC when she was a #WDC17 coach.  She shared her story about not letting the dragons get you down - and our cohort still talks about it.
  3. Jennifer Gonzalez - is the author of the Cult of Pedagogy blog and podcast.  I have yet to meet this Jen but I do feel like I know her as I listen to her podcast religiously.  Covering a variety of topics and with her soothing voice, The Cult of Pedagogy is a great resource for teachers of all subject areas and levels of experience.
  4. Jen Apgar and I met at ISTE in June but knew each other from Twitter before that.  She is passionate, inquisitive, and a genuinely friendly person.  We have brief but great convos when we see each other and it is always a treat to run into her at conferences.


Monday, 13 November 2017

I is for Ignite Talks

#NaBloWriMo Day 9


In April 2017 I was invited by Fair Chance Learning (Thanks Martha, Dustin, and Brian) to participate in the Connect 2017 Ignite Talk event. I nearly declined because my team was invited to  dinner that night, but I decided this would be a great opportunity and challenge so instead, I accepted.  Boy was I right!



For those who are unfamiliar, an Ignite talk is a talk where you are allowed to have 20 slides and they auto advance every 15 seconds.  You need to perfectly know your content and your timing.  Their tag line is enlighten us, but make it quick.  It is tricky in so many ways...but one of the best writing and presentation experiences of my life.  

I think it is a fantastic oral presentation activity for students.  It is only 40-80 sentences, there is little to no reading off the screen, and it allows for choice and flexibility to personalize.

When you do it with students, or do one yourself, here are my tips for success:

Writing 
I made a chart with the image on one side and what I wanted to say on the other.  I found that I could get 2-4 sentences per slide for the proper pacing and timing.

Slide Images
I am a firm believer that a slide should have no more than 5 words.  Let the image support your talk or you will be tempted to read off the screen.

Memorizing
First,  I took my notes (mentioned above) and highlighted a few words for each slide.  My friend Kim called these sticky note lines.  I associated these words with the slide image and would jog my memory for the slide.  Then, I recorded myself using voice notes on the iPhone.  Then, everyday I got in the car I listened to the speech and talked along as best I could.  Finally, after the week of listening was done, I would recite the talk every time I got in the car.  If I got stuck, I would review my notes when I arrived at my destination.  In two weeks I had it down pat.

I have been fortunate enough to give my Ignite talk at four events now: Connect 2017, ISTE 2017, MindShare Learning Technology's EdTech Summit 2017 and BIT 17 with the Ministry of Education (thanks Bernadette and Brenda).  Here is my Ignite.


Sunday, 12 November 2017

H is for HyperDocs

#NaBloWriMo Day 8...late...but catching up!


In the summer of 2016 my Twitter feed started to flood with #HyperDocs.  Intrigued, I started to explore post and immediately bought the book by Lisa Highfill, Sarah Landis, and Kelly Hilton.  I was about to start a new position as an instructional coach and as much I wanted to try them out in the classroom, I could not wait to share HyperDoc with other teachers.

If you ever meet Lisa ask her about her first trip to Toronto...it's a good story wherein I almost had her deported! 

HyperDocs are Google Docs, with interactive elements, designed to replace the worksheet method of delivering instruction. By sharing a link to a HyperDoc, teachers can get students thinking, exploring, collaborating, and creating all on their own, shifting teachers from the lecturer to listener.   With HyperDocs, teachers can personalize the learning experience and better connect with students.

People often call Multimedia Text Sets (MTS) HyperDocs, but this is a misnomer - HyperDocs are so much more than that(Note: MTSs are also called Choice boards  - a term coined by Derek Tangredi - which I love.)   A lot of people also see HyperDocs and call them clickable Docs, or a webquest...but again, it is more than that.

The HyperDoc cycle is robust.  It includes Engaging, Exploring, Explaining, Applying, Sharing, Reflecting, and Extending.  The idea is that in order to have students fully engage in the learning, all seven parts of the cycle should be followed.  Choice boards can be used to support some (or all) parts, but it is the pedagogy behind the curation of the board and the involvement in each part that really matters.

In the Engagement phase we draw in the learner - peak their curiosity, and hook them into the learning.  In Explore students engage in self-directed learning.  This phase is often facilitated through an MTS/Choice Board so the needs of the individual learner can be met.  Some might want to watch a video, others might want an online manipulative, and still others might like to read an article.  In Explain, the teacher, after seeing the learning in the Explore phase, goes back and fills gaps they noticed in the students learning.  Next, students Apply.  To me, this is one of the most important phases as it takes students from consumer to creator.  I actually call this the Create phase in stead of Apply.  I also always give choice in this phase.  What one students might present in a video another could do in a podcast, or poster.  I feel learners should be able to show me how they have made understanding.  Sharing is the next phase and I always emphasize the importance of letting learners share to an authentic audience.  I really feel if the only audience is the teacher than the learners produces for that teacher, and not for the learners him/herself --> which is when the magic happens.  Reflection allows learners to think about the learning that has taken and really spend some time becoming aware and understanding one's own thought processes.  This helps with growth.  Finally, Extending takes the learning beyond what might be covered traditionally.  It allows the learners who is really keen on the subject to explore in more depth or in a different way.

Above all, there are only two rules with HyperDocs - share freely and give credit!

If you want to explore a little more, here are some of my resources:

Here are some Choice Boards I have created.


I created this resource for EdTech Tools to use with each phase of the cycle.  Note: I update this regularly so feel free to share and add to your drive but if you make a copy it will not be updated.

Here is my What's the Hype with HyperDocs slide deck.  I particularly like the slide about how a lesson looks transferred from traditional to HyperDoc (Thanks Lisa for sharing). Also, I like the slide with the choice boards for 4Cs.

Are you on Twitter?  Some of my fav HyperDoc people include not only the HyperDoc ladies linked above, but also:




Saturday, 11 November 2017

G is for Google Home

#NaBloWriMo Day 7 (a few days late..sorry...I was at #BIT17)

About 6 months ago, I had been thinking about buying a Google Home for a while, but had let it go into the universe thinking if I was meant to have one, I would get it.  (Full disclosure, the whole "listening all the time" thing did creep me out a little.)

Cut to August. I had the privilege of attending the Google of Education Innovator Academy in Washington D.C. (#WDC17). One of my most fun moments (among hundreds) was winning a Google Home thanks some stealthy moves with my Secret Handshake Buddy Santi.

I was so excited!

I brought it home and it has been really awesome.  Here are my top 5 loves.

  1. "OK Google, play some music."  I love playing music in my home.  I love even more that I can now walk in with my hand full and just call out to have something play. I can control volume, skips songs, and find out the name/artist.  Awesome.
  2. "OK Google, how's my day?" I start each of my days with this song.  She tells me the weather (brrr...wear a toque), how long it will take me to get to work, and what I have on the calendar for that day.  Even better, it then plays me the news headlines (which I customized to CBC).
  3. "OK Google, tell me a joke."  (When I remember) I start workshops with a couple of Dad jokes.  Most are fuelled thanks to Google.  My fav - "What do you call an empty can of Cheese Whiz?  Cheese was!"  LMAO!!!
  4. "OK Google, let's play a games." Dinner times have also gotten a little more exciting.  We do not allow toys or devices at dinner, but we make a bit of an exception here. Google turns into a game show host and we play trivia.  It is so funny to see my 7- and 5-year-olds take guesses at pop culture from a decade ago.
  5. "OK Google, Where do babies come from?"  Yeah...so that was a fun day.  My five year old got curious.  Her answer was very diplomatic: "Last I heard, babies come from storks, but you may want to confirm with your parents".  I loved it.  Not only that it let me keep control of information for little minds, but it showed me what their curious little minds were thinking.  It also made me think what school would look like if every class had a Google Home in it.  How would our content change?  How would our projects/activities change?  If there are changes - which I imagine there would be for the vast majority of us - why are we waiting for Google Homes to come into our classrooms?
Bonus: When I ask Google who her favourite superhero is she tells me it is a teacher.  <3.  I know she likely knows I am a teacher and she is playing to the audience, but I still think it is pretty darn awesome.







Thursday, 9 November 2017

F Iis for Flipgrid

#NaBloWriMo Day 6

If you follow me on Twitter, this one should come as no surprise.  I have a serious case of #FlipgridFever.  It all got started last spring when everyone started talking about it on my twitter feed.  I have been fully immersed since.  It is a great way to capture not inly students voice but anyone's voice.  It helps build community, give all participants a voice, and it is fun!

Flipgrid is a asynchronous video discussion platform used in classes from PreK to PhD, families, and organizations in more than 150 countries! All you need to do is create a Grid (that's your classroom or group), add Topics to spark the discussion, and your community builds a dialogue as they share short video responses.  These videos can be shared and grids can be password protected for privacy.

Learn more in this ebook by Sean Fahey & Karly Moura or in my Flipgrid slide deck.


As a company, Flipgrid really wows me.  They are so responsive to the feedback they receive from their users, constantly iterating to make the tools better and better for educators and students.  They have built up a strong community of ambassadors who collaborate and share. 

Some things to check out:

  • Topic Discovery Library - a bank of topics already created by teachers that you can use as a template for your own use.  It was just released last week but there is already GREAT stuff.
  • Webinars. Some great web based tutorials by Flipgrid Ambassadors from topics like uses to Appsmashing.
  • Explorer Series. In their explorer series, Flipgrid invite leading professionals to share their knowledge with grid participants.  Experts share information and students can pose questions to deepen understanding and engage in the topic.