Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Book Creation with Google Slides

Helping students publish their writing is something I've done in my own classroom and while supporting other classrooms in my role as Literacy with ICT teacher leader.  I think that publishing student writing is a great way to share student work with a wider audience, while integrating technology and encouraging students to polish their work to share with others.   I've blogged about How to Create Digital Books before, but I've recently been exploring another option for book creation.  Our school division is currently transitioning to Google Suite for Education, so our students and teachers now have access to Google tools.   Inspired by Eric Curts' ISTE presentation, Beyond the Slideshow, I've worked with some students and teachers to create books using Google Slides.   I don't have any samples to share just yet, but I do have some tips that I've found helpful!

Ways to Use Google Slides for Book Creation

  • whole-class book
  • individual book
  • choose your own adventure story
  • e-book, manual, textbook or guide

Tips for Using Slides for Book Creation

for a class book, create one slide (with a sentence starter, if desired) and duplicate it

take photos of student work on your iPad or tablet and upload them with the Google Drive app

to avoid copyright infringements, check out these sources for images:

Use the “Drag and Drop” method to easily insert images

  • click on image from website
  • drag to Slides tab
  • drag down onto slide
Share student books
File>Publish to web
  • provides a link and opens in full-screen presentation mode

File>Download as>PDF
  • saves as a PDF File

Create an audiobook by recording narration with Screencastify

Create a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure non-linear text by linking text to a slide
  • highlight text, right click and choose link
  • choose “slides in this presentation”
  • choose the appropriate slide to link 
Have fun with fonts
Click on font menu and choose MORE FONTS

Apply a default font
  • Slide>Edit Master
  • Select all text and change font
  • Exit slide master
Try making it collaborative
  • SHARE button at top right, create a sharing link or share through Google classroom
  • with large groups, I suggest assigning each person a slide number for their work

Friday, December 21, 2018

Coding in the Classroom

In my ICT adventures this month, I spent lots of time working on coding with students and teachers around Park West School Division.   December kicked off with Computer Science Education Week.  Across the globe, thousands of people took part in Hour of Code and the staff and students in PWSD were among those participants!   During CSED week, I supported three schools in offering whole school coding events, where every student got to participate in coding activities!  I also joined many other classrooms for coding activities throughout the month.  Some classes paired up with other grade levels for their programming activities and some classes worked on their own. Whether it was single-grade or multi-grade, whole-school or single-class coding activities, I loved being part of the learning and excitement around coding in our schools this month!

Inspired by the great work I witnessed this month, I wanted to share some of my thoughts on coding in the classroom.  I created some images to share my ideas with you!

Why teach coding? 

My 5 Favourite Tools for Teaching Coding & Computational Thinking

I've tried plenty of tools and activities over the last few years and I've developed some favourites that are my "go-to" tools when teaching coding and computational thinking.   The numerical list is not intended as a ranking system, I just have 5 things I use more than anything else!

Regardless of age, I always start with unplugged coding activities.   I like to use these activities to build a basic understanding of coding concepts before we work with technology.  I've developed lessons to teach students about sequencing, conditions, loops and more.   It really helps to include some unplugged lessons to ensure students understand the programs they are writing with technology! has so much to offer.   They have a variety of activities for different ages, including both one-hour tutorials and full courses.   Spend some time digging around on their website and you're sure to find something suitable for your class!

Kodable was a favourite in my Grade 1 and 2 classes and it has been very popular in K-4 classrooms around the division.  The free content is a great start, plus they offer paid content if you'd like to offer more coding activities for your students. 

Thanks to Kids Code Jeunesse, our schools now have micro:bit sets for teaching programming!  It's awesome when students can see their programs run on an external device and I'm excited about the possibilities for these pocket-sized computers!

I have two of each of these robots in my ICT kit and they've traveled with me all over PWSD for the last several months!  

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Global Read Aloud 2018

Somehow it is November and I've barely blogged.   It seems like my school year started off as a whirlwind, as it does for many educators.   As the Literacy with ICT Teacher Leader for Park West School Division, one of the projects I've been supporting over the last several weeks is Global Read Aloud (GRA).   The GRA was a wonderful experience when I participated with my students in my own classroom and now that I work in many classrooms, I've really enjoyed seeing our students and teachers around PWSD get involved with this project!   Thanks to all of the educators and students that welcomed me to join them for Global Read Aloud activities this year!

What makes the Global Read Aloud so fantastic?

I'm not sure that I can fully explain why the Global Read Aloud is so meaningful, but I think there are three key elements that I really appreciate:

Rich literature: Global Read Aloud founder, Pernille Ripp, chooses excellent books for this project each year.   This year's choices were no exception.   The GRA books address important topics, inspire thoughtful conversations and really get us thinking.   I love that good books are at the center of this project. 

Connecting with Others:  The idea behind GRA is "one book to connect the world".   I'm passionate about students and teachers making connections beyond the classroom and I think that Global Read Aloud provides a great opportunity to build those connections.   Participating classrooms typically connect with at least one other class to discuss the book, get to know each other and share their learning. Participating classes can plan as many different connections as they wish, and there is plenty of sharing happening throughout the GRA.

Making the World a Little Smaller: There is something so special about being in a classroom when students are connecting with others in another province or country and they realize they have things in common.   Maybe they also learn about the differences that exist between them or their communities and this helps foster an acceptance of differences and appreciation for what makes us unique.   I like seeing students share their ideas about a book with others - to have a real audience outside the classroom considering their thoughts.   I also think it is so important that students get to consider others' opinions on these books and topics.   The GRA gives students an opportunity to see new perspectives, from students and teachers around the globe.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Creating Commercials: Miss Wallace's Class Video Project

I was invited to help out with a video production project in Miss Wallace's grade six class.  They had been learning about television and it seemed fitting that they should produce some "television" of their own.  Before I joined them, Miss. Wallace and her class were working to better understanding what makes television and commercials interesting to us.   They branding, personalities, images, audience and more.   As a concluding activity, Miss. Wallace tasked her class with creating commercials for a fictional product.   The class worked in small groups to plan, film and edit their commercials.

Phases of Creating Commercials

Preparing a Plan - Groups of students met to decide on a "product" and then plan their video, including target audience, roles to cast, crew member assignments and more

Writing a Script - Each group used a shared document to draft and revise their scripts using a two-column script template.

Filming - With the cast selected and the scripts ready, students shot their video using an iPad.

Editing - Students brought together their video clips, added sound effects and titles using iMovie.

Sharing - Miss. Wallace helped her class upload their videos to a class YouTube channel.  Their finished products are shared below:

Thank you to Miss. Wallace and her class for sharing their work!

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Skype Cooking Lessons with Chef Paola

I was part of a really special learning experience at Major Pratt School over the last few weeks.  MPS foods classes had the opportunity to work with a professional chef from Italy thanks to the technology available in our schools.  Chef Paola Martinenghi presented a 3 part series for students via Skype.   Her classes focused on Italian food and culture.   Chef Paola is incredibly passionate and she was an enthusiastic and knowledgeable presenter.   We are very grateful to The Chef and The Dish for making this connection possible.  It was such an exciting opportunity to have Park West School Division students connect with an expert in this way!  Thank you to Mrs. Nemez and Mrs. Falkevitch for inviting me to be part of this learning experience in your classroom!

Class 1: The Importance of Food, Country and Culture
Chef Paola's first session focused on iconic Italian foods.  We were transported right into her kitchen in Italy with high-quality video and audio.  As we were getting to know each other, she reached back to grab a bag of Manitoba flour off her shelf!  It was pretty incredible to see one of our province's products in her hands.   For our first class, Chef Paola taught us about where certain foods are produced and talked about the history and culture related to some of our favourite Italian foods.   Chef Paola's enthusiasm engaged us as she told stories of how parmesan cheese is made, where pizza originated and how foods become traditional.  Each group of students had slightly different experiences depending on their questions and interests.  When talking about their first impressions, everyone agreed that Chef Paola was an intelligent and passionate presenter!

Class 2:  Cooking with an Expert
The second class with Chef Paola was a cooking demonstration, which students really enjoyed.  She prepared traditional Italian foods with each class.  Each group of students watched her prepare bruschetta, studying her ingredients, techniques and tools.   She also prepared pesto with some classes.   Seeing Chef Paola in action in her kitchen at home was an awesome experience!   She told us about the local ingredients she used and explained the importance of using ingredients from her region.   To conclude the class, Chef Paola issued a challenge.   Students were asked to prepare their own, creative versions of bruschetta using any locally-available ingredients.

The Cooking Challenge
In the days between classes with Chef Paola, students worked together to create their own versions of bruschetta.   They used the concept of bread with chopped toppings, but tried substituting a variety of ingredients for the traditional tomato, cheese and basil.   

Class 3:  Sharing the Results
In the third and final session, students presented their bruschetta creations to Chef Paola.   Using screen sharing, students were able to share photos of their bruschetta interpretations.  Students talked about the ingredients they used, reasons for choosing those ingredients and answered questions posed by Chef Paola.   Chef Paola offered feedback on each group's work and provided tips and suggestions.  After presenting their creations, students were able to ask questions and hear a few more stories from Chef Paola. 

Enhancing Education with ICT
I was really pleased to be part of such an exciting learning opportunity.   I really liked that students used technology to connect with an expert to enhance their learning.  I thought that the cooking challenge was a great way to connect the digital, online learning experience with the in-class learning.  The high-quality video calls were an awesome way to see a professional chef in action.  For me, this experience underscores the potential for technology to enhance learning. 

Want to try it?
The Chef and The Dish offers Skype cooking sessions with a selection of master chefs from around the world.   The business typically offers in-home sessions, but they were willing to adapt their sessions for a classroom.   Check out their website for more information!

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Creativity, Communication & Citizenship: Brilliant Book Trailers!

One of the awesome parts of my job as LwICT Teacher Leader is that I get to be involved with a wide variety of learning activities.   In May, I was invited to help Mrs. Bowley's grade 7 class with a really awesome book trailer project.  Students viewed a variety of book trailers before selecting a favourite text and planning their own book trailer.  The grade 7s used iMovie to create their trailers and then uploaded them to YouTube.  Next, they made posters with QR codes linked to their videos so they could share their book recommendations by displaying the posters at their school. 

What I Like...

I think the final videos are really well done and I've got a long list of books I want to read after watching them!   There was a lot to like about this project, but some aspects that stood out to me included:

Creativity and Communication 
Bringing together images, text and music to create a compelling book trailer video required creativity and this group of students certainly let their creativity shine!  The project also required effective communication.  Students demonstrated their understanding of a text and conveyed the essence of the book by selecting appropriate elements to include in their video. 

ICT Infusion
This project is a great example of how ICT can support and enhance learning.   Students were able to use technology tools to demonstrate their understanding and knowledge of a text.   I also really like how technology enabled sharing in this example; the QR code posters and video links are great ways for students to share their work with a wider audience.  I think other students and teachers will enjoy watching these!

Digital Citizenship
When I first visited the grade 7 class to help get their book trailers started, we discussed copyright and the need to respect others' work.   We talked about sources for public domain images and royalty-free music.   I know that these thoughtful conversations continued because I heard more about digital citizenship when I returned for my next visit.  I learned that the students did some research on acceptable use and discussed how copyright was applicable to this project.  Students also discussed  sharing their work and considered which platform to use, how much personal information to include and how the videos would be shared.  I was happy to see and hear students thinking about digital citizenship as they worked on this project.   

Watch These!

Okay, you've got my perspective on this cool project - now it is time to watch some samples!   Thanks to Mrs. Bowley's class for sharing the book trailers below!   They are definitely worth watching.  You might even want to compile a list of books to enjoy this summer.   

The Maze Runner 


Girl, Stolen

If I Stay

Miss. Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Remember Me Always

Where She Went

The Hunger Games

Pitch Black

Everything, Everything

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Produce to Show Understanding: Designing Digital Posters

In Manitoba, we have a Literacy with ICT model for 21st century learning.   Our aim is to support students in developing skills to think critically and creatively using ICT .  One of the Literacy with ICT resources available is a continuum of skills.   The continuum includes goals for students to "Produce to Show Understanding".   We want students to demonstrate understanding of their learning, which can be achieved using a variety of formats.   In addition to the more traditional ways that students can share their knowledge, there are many ways that students can share their learning using technology.   One option that I have explored in PWSD classrooms this year is having students design digital posters to demonstrate their understanding. 

When supporting the use of technology in our school division, I aim to be responsive to the goals and needs of students and teachers.  I try to find ways for technology to support or enhance the learning already happening in classrooms.  Supporting students with designing digital posters is an activity that fits well with a variety of learning activities.   I've worked with students and teachers to create digital posters for a variety of subjects/topics.  Here are a few examples:
  • designing posters to share highlights from a social studies inquiry topic such as Canada's North
  • producing digital posters with key information about endangered species as part of a research project 
  • creating movie posters based on a novel
Thinking Critically and Creatively 
Students engaging in the task of designing digital posters often have to summarize or parse down  information, which is an important critical thinking skill.   They also have to make design decisions about font, images, spacing and style.  Designing a digital poster requires creative skills just like designing on paper!   

Going Beyond the Classroom
I'm passionate about students sharing their work beyond the classroom, so I really like that these posters can easily be shared with a wide audience.   Some classes have shared their work on social media and some have allowed me to share their work here on my blog and/or on my social media channels.   Digital posters can easily be uploaded to a variety of platforms for sharing.  This relates to another dimension of our Literacy with ICT continuum, focused on communication.  We want students to be able to share ideas, information and work.

Tech Tools
Students designing posters on iPads used PicCollage.  Students designing on computers created student accounts at Canva.  I encourage students to source public domain images from Pixabay (web or app based) or similar sites. 

Student Samples: The Outsiders
I worked with Mrs. Dyck's ELA class at Strathclair Community School this month to support them in designing digital movie posters.   The class had just read the novel The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton and Mrs. Dyck tasked them with designing a catchy poster for the video version.   Students were asked to research the actual cast, release date and producer of the film and then to use their creative talents to develop a tag line.  Students were encouraged to make their designs visually appealing and easy to read.  Check out their work below!

Thanks to Mrs. Dyck's class for sharing your work!