Blended Learning

We live in a society where many things are blended.  Foods, families,technologies, etc.  So why is it that when we talk about blended learning, many teachers become unnerved?  Blended learning is just like it sounds-blending the environments and media in which the learning is constructed.  This infographic gives a great visual representation of what  blended learning really is.  Simply stated blended learning constitutes a combination of face to face and online/offline learning.  While it contains E-learning elements, it is important to differentiate it from E-learning.  The face to face component is a primary function of the blended learning model.  Another advantage is that the model allows for some of the more elementary aspects of the lesson to be tackled outside the domain of the classroom which opens the door for enrichment or application during the contact time.  This model does not seek to replace teachers, rather quite the contrary.  The blended learning model is designed to make teacher student interaction more meaningful.  There is no doubt however, that this model can be used to help students who have other commitments that might keep them out of a traditional classroom setting.  In fact, a current example of this is happening in our own division right now at City Park Collegiate.  It is important to note that this model can help students who struggle in the classroom setting but it requirescommitted, self-directed, competent individuals to generate success.  I have some experience employing this model and suggest that as an educator, you must be flexible with your time.  The online component of these types of courses may require that you answer questions outside of “normal” classroom hours.  Like every teaching strategy, this model might not be for you.  Then again, it just might be…


Saying Goodbye,

In a rare departure from the usual content I post on here, I’d like to look at a personal side of my work.   I am saddened by the loss of a good friend and colleague-Mr. Cole Kirby.  Cole was only seven months into his retirement when he passed on suddenly due to a heart attack.  In addition to being a good leader, Cole was a student-first administrator.  He could often be quoted as saying “If it’s good for kids, I’m in.”  He also spared no words in acknowledging what teachers did for students.  In short, my friend Cole was a very nice man.  Feeling the sadness of this loss has given me to pause about the tragedy of a man who works his whole life in service to others and when he finally is able to live for himself, expires.  What is it about this profession (and others) that causes the replication of this scenario repeatedly?  Personally, I have been reflecting on the important things in life and how much time I have spent looking at and planning for retirement.  We spend so much time focussing our energies on making it to retirement that we don’t live enough in the present.  What is the point of planning for an event that may never come.   No, that doesn’t mean I’m cashing in my RRSPs, I just wonder how I can refocus my life to ensure that I live it equally in the present and future.  Maybe we just become to complacent.  That being said, I have always prided my self on the fact that I am always changing things up in my career and working toward new opportunities.  Perhaps it is the fact that our profession and others like it are fraught with new stresses from the demands that are being placed on us.  Be innovative, get graduation rates up, create positive school cultures-all with little or no support or resources.  I know that my good friend Cole was feeling many of those pressures before he retired.  Like many of us, his body was fuelled by pure adrenaline until he stopped working.  Perhaps it is that moment when we halt the insanity that our bodies realize what a toll the career has taken.  The lucky ones, those whose bodies are still strong enough to repair themselves transition well.  The unfortunate ones, like Cole, do not.  When I became a teacher, I never dreamed of being anything else and really, I still don’t.  That being said, I don’t want to end up like my dear friend and miss the opportunity to see my grandchildren grow up…

Back To The Future…

School has been back in session for a while, but September start-up seems to pose many challenges for those who share my role. Speaking of challenges, one that continues to provoke me is getting people to understand what I do and why it is important. Take this blog for instance. I take constant jibes from some of my colleagues who don’t really seem to understand its value or the amount of work that I put into it to help others navigate this challenging terrain. I don’t simply toss a bunch of links into the blog without investigating their merit or application. If a link makes it to one of my posts, it is because I feel that it is something my colleagues or their students may be able to use or should take note of. At times. this can be frustrating, but I keep telling myself that eventually, all educators will realize that new curricula has a technological imperative not just a suggestion that you use it. Speaking of imperatives, teaching digital citizenship has become a byproduct of the technological imperative. This infographic provides students with some key points on netiquette.  Number 11 is a great example of a skill that few people have when participating in online discussion.  If you just picked up the new iPad, take a look at these apps that can help you integrate its use in your classroom.  Weebly  is a great tool for creating an online classroom if you are intimidated by some of the LMS platforms that are out there.  If you are a fan of Android, these concept map tools might be right up your alley.

Despite the fact that copyright laws have relaxed to afford education a little more freedom, teaching students to respect copyright is still important.  This site shows some popular royalty-free music options.  They are also great if you want to spice up your own professional presentations.  This link will take you to free printable comic strip templates.  These could be useful to beginning language learners or as a simple scaffold to getting your students to work with graphic novels.  If you have committed to navigating the technology highway, knowing the current and future trends in edtech might be useful!  Creating a classroom that encourages PBL(Project Based Learning) can be challenging.  For some useful information on understanding PBL and getting started click here.

These are just a few tidbits I have been exploring.  Thank you for your readership and I will continue to post throughout the school year.

School’s Out For Summer…Well Almost!

This will likely be my last “official” blog post for the school year.  I may post some things over the summer depending on how busy I get.  I have been giving you a lot of things for your students over the past few months so I am going to try to make this one completely teacher focused.

This link shows you how to create Twitter Lists.  It also contains a great related link on how to use Twitter for professional development.  I personally use Twitter in this way.  Most of my network consists of people and organizations related to educational technology.

Feel like your head is in the clouds?  Now you can work there too!  This link shows some Microsoft apps that are available “in the cloud”.

If you are a poster junkie, Pixteller allows you to create your own inspirational posters.

Ever wonder what it takes to make it in the digital world?  This infographic explains the characteristics of the digitally savvy teacher.  Here is a rubric for evaluating web content which will help get you on your way.

Here are 8 web tools that can help you take your teaching to the next level.  If you are a video junkie like me Zaption seems like a keeper.

If you are intimidated by the complexity of LMSs, ClassOwl seems to offer a simple curation/planning version for you and your students.  Personally, I need a little more but it might be a good starting point for some.  in the same vein, Fishtree offers another learning platform that comes with additional resources.  It looks like there is a 30 day trial but I couldn’t find pricing after that.

Everyone knows that teachers love swag (free stuff).  Here is a link that gives you 30,000 free images from the Museum of New Zealand.

I just finished another engaging session of #DCMOOC.  This was a fabulous opportunity to share and learn about the power and importance of digital citizenship.  The message that continually emerges is that our students need us to be models of good digital citizenship.  We have a professional obligation to foster the development of this “consciousness” within our students.  Like the curriculum we teach, this is not optional.  We must all learn to be producers and not just consumers.  We must dispense with “acceptable use policy” and replace it with “responsible/respectful use policy”.  The best way to help our students become good digital citizens is to encourage creative and critical thought in all they do,  not inundate them with a barrage of “don’ts”.  The most important thing I learned in these 5 weeks is that our greatest strength lies within teachers as a community of learners.  When we model this for our students and invite them to be a part of it, we empower them to become the digital citizens they need to be.  Many thanks to Dr. Couros and the host of teachers who shared this experience.  What we learned was valuable, what we shared is priceless!

In that vein, this link will take you to a great visual for teaching Netiquette (Net etiquette ).

This link will guide you to TED videos for music teachers and includes lesson plans.

This link to a blogpost provides an excellent Copyright Flowchart.  It is very useful for contextualizing the when and where of Copyright.

Finally, this link explains the new Google Educators Group that may be of some interest.  Check it out.

My hope, as always, is that you found something here that impacted you in a positive way.  Have a great summer!

May 26th-30th

Well, this week certainly made a thunderous entrance!  The rest of the week looks good though.  Even though I’m a techy, I still appreciate seeing the grass and trees begin to green and the flowers starting to bloom.  Though we are just getting started, there are already some nice little treasures out there…

If you are considering blogging with your students but struggle with the notion of  assessment, this link not only provides you with a great rubric, but an excellent visual as well.

From the Department of Redundancy Department – a site that offers you a rubric on…you guessed it- creating rubrics.

Next, this site will expound on the benefits of gamification on learning and literacy.  In that vein, here is a link to 8 Science games.

If you are one of those teachers like myself who uses their summer to learn, this site will link you to 800 Free MOOCS (Massive Online Open Course) to cram knowledge into your brain.

For my science colleagues out there Science NetLinks is a phenomenal resource that allows you to narrow your searches quite specifically.  I spent considerable time on this site and there are some great tools and resources.

If you have ever assigned an assignment that requires PowerPoint but your students are afraid of public speaking?  This site explains how to ad audio narration to your presentation.  This would still allow you to assess some of those critical speaking skills.  This works well if you want to screencast the presentation for your students to access virtually as well.  It would be extremely beneficial if you are teaching EAL learners and you needed them to hear the proper pronunciation of sentences as well as seeing them.  You could also create a lesson where they add the narration at you can assess their speaking skills.

Reading fluency and comprehension are skills commonly assessed in ELA classes.  Here are some suggestions for iPad apps that can help.

I have to be honest, Edmodo is not my favourite LMS (Learning Management System).  However, my goal is not to bias your decisions.  Here is a guide to getting started.

This is a great piece on the 21st Century Classroom.  There are great visuals and other supports to shift your classroom into the digital “blended” realm.

Did you know that your students can adjust their search in Google to their reading level?  Here’s how.

Among the many things you can do with Google Drive Heres how to give students audio feedback.

As I continue my learning journey on DCMOOC, I try to share the knowledge I gain.  This week’s topic was related to digital footprint-essentially one’s online presence.  In an age rife with all kinds of social media, it is important that we teach our children the importance of a positive digital footprint and the hazards of  the contrary.  Here are three links worth looking at: 

Have a great weekend.  I hope that reading this post has brought you even one new piece of learning you can move forward with.  Remember, we learn to walk one step at a time!


May 12th-23rd

I cannot fathom that we are already halfway through May!  This school year has been a whirlwind. because I have been away for a little bit I have merged this week and last week into one post.

If you are thinking about incorporating the iPad into your teaching regimen, these Core Teacher Apps are a great place to start.

Check out this great slideshare on 25 great web tools for teachers.

This visual does a great job explaining the foundations of flipped learning.  If you have ever wondered what it was or how to get started, the visual brings some clarity.

This site does explains the process of advancing students as critical thinkers.  Make sure to explore the links within as well; they contain some valuable tips too.

Ted Talks are great for generating professional discussion but they are not limited to that forum.  Click here for  5 TED TALKS to watch and discuss with your students.  They are quite compelling!

This is a great explanation of Digital Literacy if you are still struggling with the concept.

For those who still subscribe to the philosophy that technology is just another fad in education, this site explains 6 shifts in education due to technology.

I have always believed in the concept of a teacher as a self-reflective practitioner.  Here are some great probing questions a teacher should ask themselves at the end of the year.  I loved #8 and #9!

These are some great web tools created by teachers, for teachers.

The next three links are for infographics  on:


Flipped Learning

Digital Literacies

If you are a fan of Evernote, you will love Evernote Clearly.  This tool will help your students clear the distractive clutter from any online readings you give them.

I am learning a lot about digital citizenship on the #DCMOOC that I am a part of.  I will share more in coming posts.  The same is true of the SPS Teachnology Conference I attended on the 21st.  Particularly compelling were our keynotes Kathy Schrock and Katrina German.  Here is the link to Kathy’s presentation.  German is the CEO of Onestory.  This site uses videos in a unique way to affect social change.  There are apps for iOS and Android that facilitate interviews and neatly edit the video for you.  I highly recommend this site!

Trying to build a collaborative community in your classroom?  You might find these web tools helpful.

In the same vein, there is a new Google App called Chalkup that allows you to annotate and grade student work in google drive.  This link will take you to a site that explains it and includes a Youtube video on Google Drive integration.

Well, that’s it from me.  Thank you for reading and have a great weekend!





May 5th-May 9th

Happy Cinco de Mayo!  I hope you went easy though since Tuesday is a workday for most.  The week has already started with some stellar finds:

This site links Blooms Taxonomy with with iPad apps.

This awesome chart illustrates how student learning can be transformed with technology.  Remember that the transformative state is the one we aspire to when using technology in the classroom.

Ever wonder what people are doing on the internet?  I love this infographic that tells us what happens every single minute on the internet.

Creative Commons has undergone some license changes.  Read about them here.

Are you hashtag literate?  If not check this out!

This infographic does a great job explaining the impact of mobile learning.

My students are busy working on their Canadian Inquiry project using the Pecha Kucha format (20×20) mentioned in a previous blog.  I tried this last quarter and was pleased with the outcomes.  Last week they submitted their skits on “Canadianisms”.  Many of them used GoAnimate.  Be wary though, unpaid accounts are limited to 30 seconds.  I have mentioned similar sites in previous blogs that may be less restrictive.

I learned about Tunescoop this weekend from a colleague.  It is a great free website for hosting audio files.  We used it to embed a student podcast on a website that required an external audio server.  Many thanks Tamzen!

Here is another great example that pairs technological integration with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

This page demonstrates new features of Google Docs for image handling.

This blog offers some support in creating a BYOD classroom.  The suggestions are quite practical and easy to understand.

I had an interesting real-world indicator of the importance of continuing to support teachers in understanding the importance of digital literacies.  I was working at the Literacy for Life Conference banquet as the social media coordinator.  Despite the fact that we heavily promoted the use of social media, there was minimal traffic.  Some might argue it was because the speakers were so engaging (They were.  Sally Armstrong was phenomenal!), but I think it had more to do with the group demographic and their connection to social media.  This just strengthens my resolve to continue this work!

Google just announced its Classroom web app.  You can apply for a free preview.

I primarily follow Edutopia on Twitter but that do have a website with some useful tidbits.

I read this blog on the definition of digital literacy.  I thought it was share-worthy.

This was also a neat piece on the 5 TedTalks teachers should watch with students.

Again from the Twitterverse, this is 7 Effective Ways To Engage On Twitter.  I really liked this one because it offered some practical advice as well as more philosophical.  I am always trying to engage students to engage social media as an agent of change and this site gives them some simple tips to start with.  Even if you didn’t want to use it as a lesson, you could put the poster up and let students have a chance to see it.

If you find yourself adrift in the world of online and texting acronyms, this chart will help you out.  Also, this might be a launch point for teaching students how and when to abbreviate.  Perhaps you could even create class-specific acronyms!

Digital citizenship has been a hot topic this week.  This site offers a wealth of resources for teaching it.

For those who love their Google apps, Doctopus offers comprehensive student project management.

Well, that’s it for this week.  Thank you for being my technology tourists.  If I can help you or your students navigate the technology terrain, don’t hesitate to ask!

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