Thursday 14 December 2017

Advice for coaches

Yesterday in #12daysTwitter, we were challenged to tweet out a question to people in our curriculum I sought one piece of advice from other coaches...

The sketch that prompt it all...

I tagged a whole boatload of coaches, a great Twitter tip if you want to get a conversation going, and got some great tips.  So for anyone out there who are some points to ponder.

Relationships are key

  • Find ways to ignite other's passions by taking the time to know them. Also, your enthusiasm will be contagious and one of the most effective tools to promote new ideas and learning that will carry on when you leave the building! -@TheKyleKitchen
  • Establishing a relationship is key in order for coaching to work. We cannot ask Ts tough questions if they do not trust us. -@StephGarand12
  • At the end of the day, it is about relationships. You sometimes have to go slow to go fast. Small steps are still steps. -@dlcoachalli
  • Remember to be empathetic, patient and kind...we’ve all been there when we’ve needed support from someone who is willing to listen, guide, and learn with you. -@ChrisQuinn64
  • Champion others. Expect to be amazed. -@RobinTG 
  • Be in the moment, cut the mind chatter and listen to your colleague...ACTUALLY listen to your colleague! - @TBurrTHM
  • Being a good listener... Hearing teacher's needs and supporting their efforts. -@LHighfill
  • Learn how to listen, and be the last to speak. -@JProfNB
  • Listen. Hear. Wait. Respond. -@IdeaSmashing
  • Be patient. -@MrBadura
  • Build those relationships, trust goes a long way. -@MeganBaker0724
  • Relationships matter. Without them, you’ve got nothing...  - @JCareyReads
  • Avoid saying you “should” do this/that. Try saying you “could” or “you might consider” doing this/that. -@TonyVincent
  • Champion others. Expect to be amazed. -@MrsTJohnson11
Contributed by @WickEdTech

It is all about the mindset
  • Replace the words “I can’t” with “I’ll try.” -@LemmerAnn
  • Make sure you love what you do! The excitement that you bring with you can be contagious! -@MrsFierrosClass
Watch your pacing
  • Less is more. Focus on one or two practices, tools, or ideas to help implement and push forward. -@Cogswell_Ben
  • It is not a sprint. It is more of a marathon. Take joy in the small steps teachers and students take to explore innovative learning experiences in their classrooms. -@WickEdTech
  • The goal should never to tell but always to meet people where they are. Everyone is on a continuum. Meet them where they are and you'll move more people. -@MrSoClassroom
  • We must always try to remember that everyone starts at a different point. It is also ok to finish at a different point or take a different path to get there, right? -@WickEdTech
How to get your ideas out there
  • To introduce new tech ie hr of code, find a small group of students & do a test run. Then offer 1 "special" class for a few interested students. When you introduce it to the school, you will have kinks worked out, and the kids will do your promo! - @Jeni_Richline
  • Reach the ones that want to be reached first! They will be your best advocates too. - @DevEducators
from @CreativeEdTech

And two last tidbits of overall greatness
  • I think a coach’s job is to connect dots between initiatives and help see the big picture. Work smarter, not harder. -@TeamCairney
  • Prioritize where you spend your time. Coaching is a balancing act keeping many things going at once. Think spinning plates. As a coach, spin too many of them and they will fall & crack. Focus most of your time on 1-2 big ticket items and give the others a small spin now and then. -@Cogswell_Ben
Did any of these tips resonate with you?  Grow your PLN and follow the person who offered the tip on Twitter!

Thursday 7 December 2017

Aurasma in the learning commons

I keep hearing how AR could be the next big thing in education.  I also hear people who say they have no clue what it is - other than for Pokémon Go!  Today I worked with a friend in my district who runs the Learning Commons in a High School on some AR and thought I would share.

Essentially she wanted to create videos students could view when they had question around the learning commons.  Videos would include instructions around how to load money onto their accounts, how to use the photocopier, how to access Overdrive, etc.  (Note: We both know that she could have certainly done this with a simple QR code, but she wanted to play with AR, so this was the path we chose.)

We decided, based on the work in another LC in the district, to use Aurasma.

Auramas is an Augmented Reality tool which uses a device's camera to recognize real world images and then overlay media on top of them in the form of animations, videos, 3D models and web pages. It is available on desktopsiOS and Android devices.

To achieve our goal, we first made little signs that we would hang up around the Learning Commons.  We took a screen shot of each slide and saved them locally to our computer.  These would become our triggers.

Scan me in Aurasma!!

Next, we made videos which became our overlays.  I used (the amazing tool) Camtasia but moving forward we will be using the Screencastify Chrome Extension to make the videos.  Again, we saved locally to our computer.

Then, we used the Aurasma Studio to create the Auras (that's what it is called when you link the picture and the video).  This video shows how:

In our final step we were stuck.  We could not see the auras I created in my account on her device.  Turns out, you need to follow someone to see the aura.  Sure soon as she followed me...there is was.  Want to check it out?  Download the app, follow "virtualgiff" and scan the picture above.

How do you use AR in eduction?

Thursday 30 November 2017

V is for Version History

#NaBloWriMo Day 22...last day of November...although I think I will finish the alphabet.

As an English teacher, the paper struggle is real!  There have been a number of occasions that I have needed to collect process work and had a TON of papers to bring home.  Version History in G Suite apps has made that a little less of a struggle!

Versions history give you a snapshot of all the changes that have been made over time in a document.  When you go to File --> Version History, the window will change slightly and a text box appears on the right hand side of the screen.  In this text box is a list of dates and names under each date.  If you click on a date it will show what that version of the file looked like and show you who made which change via highlighting.  You can also revert to that version.

In terms of process work, I can see changes over time in a student's document.  You can even rename versions.  So, in terms of process work, I can have students name versions (e.g., draft 1, peer review, self reviews, etc.) and there would only be a single file I would need to access.

I also love that you can track who made which changes in a file.  This has been great for tracking participation in group work.  It has helped me facilitate those "Miss, I have done all the work, my group has done nothing" conversations.

Naming sessions helps if you continuously make changes in a document.  For example, I have slide decks I use when presenting at conferences and summits.  I like to name the version according to the version I presented at each event.  This helps me remember exactly what I said when people reach out after the fact! 

Versions History is a real life saver.  I once had a teacher reach out after 3 hours of her work was erased by a colleague accidentally.  What made the situation worse was that the colleague had then put 3 hours of her own work into the file.  We simply copied the work from the second teacher into a new Doc, restored the version that Teacher 1 had worked on, and pasted the work from Teacher 2 back in.  What would have meant hours of other work, turned into a 3 minute fix.

If you have any other great uses, please leave a comment below!

Wednesday 29 November 2017

U is for Unsplash

#NaBloWriMo Day 21

I am not going to lie...I struggled the with U.  I may have even cursed Eric. However, thanks to a Google Search of EdTech Tools, I stumbled on this gem. (And it turns out Eric had the same idea!  #GreatMinds)

Unsplash is simply a website with over 300K FREE high resolution this one:

Photo by Wes Powers on Unsplash
This is such a great find for me on a few levels.  Firstly, I love being able to find these sorts of sites to show students.  Secondly, my mind automatically goes to ignite talks when I see sites like this.

The site is curated and they have made collections based on themes.  You can also follow artists you like.  Nothing crazy, but a lot of beauty!

Tuesday 28 November 2017

T is for Twiddla

#NaBloWriMo Day 20

Twiddla is an Online Whiteboard...and it is super simple!  Users can mark up websites or graphics, or start drawing on a blank canvas. It is a really great tool for distance learning led by a teacher or peer to peer.  It even has a built in Equation editor for the mathletes out there.

Twiddla requires no plug-ins or downloads and works on any browser.  Best of all - NO account required!  This is great to maintain student privacy.  (The free version allows for up to 10 participants to meet for 20 minutes.  There are other pricing structures.)

To get started, start a board, and share the link.

Monday 27 November 2017

S is for Sketchnoting

NaBloWriMo Day 19

This letter should not come as a surprise to anyone who knows me.  I began my Sketchnoting journey in August 2016.  I was reading a book and wanted to really capture and remember the ideas.  I had heard a lot about sketchnoting and thought it might just be my answer.  I tried it...and my first attempt was nothing to write home about.

But it did make me realise that I remembered more when I sketched.  The next opportunity presented itself at a staff meeting when we were doing learning around Truth and Reconciliation.  Normally at meetings, I do a lot of multitasking.  I knew, given the importance of the topic, I needed to have a singular focus.  So I sketched again.  That night I went home and left my sketchnote on the kitchen table.  When my husband came home, we engaged in a conversation about the staff meeting and the Indigenous Peoples of Canada.  This would have never had happened if I had taken traditional notes.  It was this moment that I really saw the power of sketchnoting.

Sketchnoting has since become my go to for taking notes.  You can check out my Flikr account to see them all.

Enough about me...let's talk about what sketchnoting is and why should you do it. Check out this video:

The benefits are countless. To name a few, sketchnoting:
  • Helps with retention (study have shown adding visuals increases retention up to 65%)
  • Increases comprehension data 
  • Helps one to concentrate (form of mneunomic)
  • Stimulates neurological pathways 
  • Activates all four learning modalities 
  • Is an anchoring task (keep us from losing focus on boring tasks)
  • Is relaxing!
So now I expect many readers are saying they love the look but they "are not artist".  I'll leave this here for you:

It is all about that growth mindset!  Try it.  Give Doodle a Day or Sketch 50 a try.  Carve out 10 minutes a day to exercise your creativity muscles - they need exercise like any other muscle.

Want some resources?

All in One Jackpot Resources!!  (Research articles, collections, How & Why, Tools, Videos)

Inspiration for layouts and drawings
Practice Activities

Blog Posts (including Slide Decks)

See Sketchnoting in action

Sunday 26 November 2017

R is for Read & Write

NaBloWriMo day 18

Read & Write for Google chrome (put out by Texthelp) is one of the best, yet underused, Edutools out there.  (Side note: there are rumours that it might be soon funded by OSAPAC.)

Read & Write is a great tool that provides personalized support to make documents, web pages and common file types in Google Drive more accessible. It’s designed to help all learners, regardless of ability, engage with content in a deeper level.  

Once installed in Chrome a little purple puzzle piece will appear and once pressed, the R&W toolbar will appear. 

I won't go through all features (Texthelp has this great primer to walk through all the features - it's awesome!) but I do want to highlight some of my favourites.

  1. The Play button reads the text!  I have taught a lot of decoders - kids who can read the words but have trouble understanding what they are reading.  I use R&W all the time to get students to read the text as it is read to them.  I have seen HUGE improvements in reading comprehension.
  2. Talk and Type.  I use the Voice typing feature in Docs all the time.  The Talk and Type feature gives me this functionality on all websites.  Thinks about how much easier filling in paragraph questions on Google Forms will be!
  3. The Screen Mask darkens the entire page except one thin line that moves with the cursor.  This is a great way to help readers who are easily distracted by other text on the page focus on particular areas.
  4. The Highlighting tool allows you to highlight text but the bonus is the collect highlights.  When you collect highlights a new Doc opens and each different colour is grouped together to collect common ideas.  This is a great for those whose thoughts are all over the place.  Use Talk and Type to record the stream of consciousness then so back, highlight similar ideas in the same colour, collect highlights - et voilà!  All common ideas are together.
  5. The voice notes tools is great for teachers. I have found that sometimes tone is lost in written feedbacks.  Voice notes allows you to record up to 60 seconds of voice and insert it into the Doc.  Once inserted, a play button appears in the comment box and comments can be listened to.
The tool is rich for all learners and educators.  If you have not tried it already, you need to give it a try!

When I do PD with teachers around Read & Write I like to walk them through this Hyperdoc.

Q is for Quest

#NaBloWriMo Day 17 (a few days late)...

Each November, my district, the York Region District School Board, host a three day conference called The Quest.  Every year we are on a Quest for understanding in an area.  This year it was Student Well-Being.  I was working in the playground and got to sketchnote for three was awesome.  Rather than talk about each keynote, I will let my sketches do most of the talking.

Dr. Michael Ungar outlined what all kids need to build resilience.  He also reminded us that Systems need to be adjusted as much as our children need to be adjusted.

Dr. Jean Clinton was refreshing, open and honest in her keynote.  She explained tat anxiety is good...but not when the fear of the bear never goes away.

Five YRDSB Students reminded us that they need help to navigate the waters of Social Media, and that school can be hard when you have so many "Haters in the Hall".

Stephanie Fearon reminded us that teachers too need to protect their well being.

My favourite part of the week was the second round of  Student TED-style talks.  They moved me to tears.
The Thursday evening keynote speaker was Margaret Trudeau.  When I went t show he my sketch the table asked if I was going to give it to I did.  ☺

Wednesday 22 November 2017

P is for Pocket

#NaBloWriMo day 16

In my day-to-day I often come across articles I would love to read, or blogs I would love to explore, or videos I want to watch.  The problem is that when I find them, I don’t necessarily have time to read, explore, or watch.  Enter Pocket. 

Pocket saves interesting articles, videos, and more from the web for later enjoyment. Once I save to my Pocket (which can be done on my computer OR mobile device), I simply need to visit the Pocket website or mobile app to access my saved content.

In Pocket you can tag, delete, Favorite, or archive saved items.  If you install the Chrome extension, pocket will integrate into your Twitter - making it a piece of cake to save Tweets you want to revisit. 

With Pocket, I find I can catch up on all those great articles and videos when I have time. I love opening the app while I stand in line at a grocery store, wait for my kids to recover from a meltdown, or before I go to bed.

Pocket is available for major devices and platforms including iPad, iPhone, Android, Mac, Kindle Fire, Kobo, Google Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Opera and Windows.

Monday 20 November 2017

O is for Office Lens

#NabloWriMo Day 15

A big shout out to my summit/conference pals Mario, Coulter, and Ammar from Microsoft for this one.

Office Lens claims having it is like having a scanner in your pocket - and it's right.

Office Lens trims, enhances, and makes pictures of whiteboards and documents readable. You can use Office Lens to convert images to PDF, Word and PowerPoint files, and save to OneNote,  OneDrive, or your local device.   (Not Google Drive...I asked 😆)

From an educational perspective, users can  scan handouts and annotate them.  The app even has the ability to crop out everything around it (including backs-of-heads!).  Cool feature: If you take a picture of something at an angle, the app will align and edit the image to appear as though it's directly in front of you.

The tool even has its own Twitter account!  Very simple to use, and very useful...definitely a tool to try out.

N is for Nuzzel

#NaBloWriMo Day 14

Keeping up with Social Media (or SoMe as I like to call it) can be time consuming and overwhelming.  I hate the feeling that I have missed something big, but I don't like to feel like I need to constantly be checking my Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.  So when I heard about Nuzzel, I knew I had found the tool for me! 

Nuzzel offers personalized news discovery and curated newsletters for busy professionals, via web, mobile apps, messaging bots, and email newsletters.  In my case, I have linked my twitter account and every morning I get a summary of what my Tweeps are sharing. 

The first section is the top 5 stories trending on my twitter feed in the last 24 hours.  It also shows how many people I follow have tweeted it.

The second section is the trending stories from friends of friends.  There does not seem to be any method to how this is picked...but I have found some great reads and follows in this section.

The final section shares the top story from a (seemingly) random person I am following, that was not in the two sections below.

I have my daily digest scheduled for 7am and often start my morning reading the twitter headlines.

There is an app for Nuzzel for iOS and Android devices as well as a web-based tool that curates almost like a news agency.

M is for Mystery Skype & Hangouts

#NaBloWriMo day 13...1 day late...sorry!

Mystery Hangout/Skype is a critical thinking challenge that your class takes part in while connecting with another class somewhere else in the world.  The goal is to guess the other school's location (country, city, school name) by asking only yes and no questions before they guess yours!

Finding partners is as easy as Tweeting someone you know who is involved in these or searching the G+ or Microsoft community.

When preparing students, consider the following:
  1. Be sure students know about your area so they can answer the questions accurately.
  2. Practice question asking skills - general vs. specific.
  3. Practice Map use (atlas or digital maps).
  4. Consider a practice Hangout or Skype to ensure technology is cooperating.
  5. Prepare a shared document for note taking.  (Consider Google Docs,, Forms and Sheets.)
  6. Determine and assign roles for student during the chat.
  7. Co-create guidelines for video call etiquette (include don’t wear any clothing that could give away your location (i.e., sport team hat/shirts).
  8. Do a practice session with the teacher acting as the other class.  This allows for discussion and feedback.
The benefits for doing Mystery Hangout/Skype are plentiful, and include:
  • Authentic purpose for research
  • Challenge-based learning
  • Opportunities for collaboration & communication globally
  • Creates a global community of learners
  • Creates partners for future projects
  • Supports critical thinking practice
  • Opportunity to improve listening & speaking skills
  • Supports student-led learning
For more information, check out my one pager!

Wednesday 15 November 2017

L is for List (on Twitter)

#NaBloWriMo Day 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 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.