Tag: staff development

September Newsletter Off The Presses



September is filled with a mix of “welcome back activities” as well as planning for possibilities.  Our September Newsletter is hot off the presses.  Click here for your copy.  You can also click on the News tab in the navigation bar for an archive of all the newsletters.

A New Year to Explore, Create and Learn


Welcome back.  It’s been a fabulous summer, especially with the spectacular weather offering lots of opportunities to rest, rejuvenate and re-energize.

We anticipate a very exciting year filled with new connections and new ways to look at past practices.  This summer, more schools were upgraded to the new Active Directory / School Connect structure [replacing Novell].  This along with other projects will continue throughout the year.

There are many opportunities to engage in dialogue, practice new skills and have fun while purposefully integrating digital tools and processes. One of the challenges of this area, is the dizzying speed at which new technologies is happening.  For some, this is extremely exciting – something akin to Christmas.  For others, it can be quite confusing and frustrating. The key is ‘purpose’ – what do you want to accomplish or what do you want your students to accomplish?  An example might be: “I want to communicate my intentions regarding projects without having to repeat it a hundred times.” Any number of possibilities come to mind; most include accessing the digital literacies.  Several avenues will help you move forward – check the Staff Development Calendar [sessions are updated throughout the year];  ask your tech liaison at the school for guidance or contact our Learning Technologies Team.  We love helping people connect and be empowered.

*Check out our newsletters [3-4 times/year] packed with ideas, learning tips and opportunities. If you would like a personal copy emailed to you, please email our Learning Tech Team.  Archives are found under the NEWS tab.


Learning on a Curve – Learning Tech Inquiry Team


So much to learn – that must have been the thinking bubble of each participant in our Learning Tech Inquiry group.  It was a day to use the new technologies (laptops, ipads, software) and get a bit more comfortable.

This is what we explored:

  1. Start with a bit of brainstorming ideas.  We used Padlet (previously known as Wallwisher) to park some ideas.  This online board provides space for collecting inspiration, images, links and grouping content.
  2. Categorizing ideas?   Popplet  is a online application that allows images, writing, drawing, colours to visually convey ideas.   Having an online account can connect computers and ipads – students have ready access at home.    An exploration of  Inspiration offered a powerful way to embed video to frame our thinking process.  This gave us brainstorming with direct visual/auditory memory support from the movie.  The addition of rapid-fire tool (in Inspiration) gave us the ability to type almost at the “speed of thought”.
  3. Image work – While image work can be done on the laptop, we chose to do this with iPads.  The camera app on the iPad was used to take pictures or video and save them to the camera roll.  Importing these into other apps was simple to further communicate our learning.  We discussed the challenge of getting our projects off the device.
  4. Screen capture – Screenhunter was downloaded and installed on our laptops.  [The software performs simple screen captures and cropping of any content displayed.]
  5. Writing and Sharing/Commenting support – in line with our brainstorm “out of the box” thinking, we went to 5-Card Flickr (http://5card.cogdogblog.com/play.php?suit=5card).  This site pulls random images from Flickr, which you select to create a story.  Once the  5 images were selected, we used Screenhunter to capture the image.  This was inserted into a Google Doc.  Then the writing proceeded.  [Google Docs allows many people to be working on the same document at one time. Collaboration and revisioning at its best!  Students and teachers gain the power of the commenting feature to engage in dialogue.]

You can tell we had a very busy packed morning.  Time to mull over the activities and see how they might be used in our classes to support our inquiry journey.  We encourage you to try some of these and let us know how it went.

December – The Gift of Time

It’s December and most every hour is in high gear, trying to get those last minute  projects  merged in with winter festivities.  And just this weekend, we got our first whiff of snow.  Magic is in the air among the smell of gingerbread houses, mandarin oranges and other treats popping up in all locations.  Not to mention the dreaded tinsel and glitter that seems to attach themselves everywhere or the impromptu breakout in song.

We’ve had a lot of projects this term.  Blogging has continued to see an increase in the number of teachers and administrators who are wanting to open their communications to a wider world as well as providing spaces for students to practice their online digital footprint.  One of our specialized groups  – the teacher-librarians facilitated by Patricia Finlay are meshing understandings of “Learning Commons” and what that might look like in a blogging platform. No matter the purpose, it takes a coordinated effort in how we see the role of technology in our lives and how we use it to deepen both our understandings of the world and as a communication platform.

Writers Workshop launched with great energy as teachers work with their students to explore their writing in focused ways that include collaborative conversations, real time revision and blended support (in class face-to-face and online).  Our tool of choice is Google Docs through Google Apps for Education.  Stay tuned with us as we capture the journey.

Our Secondary Inquiry Assessment team is off to the races with a dedicated open-questiongroup of teachers across the disciplines and from a variety of sites.  Questions and connections in how to include ‘standards based assessment’ or rubrics that are more than checklists are issues that deserve time to grapple with.  Some have made a commitment to digging into ‘flipped classroom’ process and finding that it opens up time to work with struggling students (a positive surprise).

The iPad and other idevices have taken schools by a storm.  What has become apparent are the creative ways that people have found to connect beyond the basics (the play) to delve deeper – asking bigger questions.  The spiral of intensity increases as teachers connect and share with others; affirming, cross-referencing and in some cases challenging each other to extend.

What is even more of a privilege are the chance encounters down school hallways with teachers who are excited to share their insights.  Their stories (successes and not successes) are the fuel that light the possibilities.  Your learning stories are important and we love hearing them.  Please consider sharing them here or give us a call.

Getting Extra Mileage from Apps


One of the things I find challenging is the inability of the iPad to support multiple open softwares (like my laptop).  Try using Side by Side.  This allows you to split the screen up to four windows at a time.  Read, research, download files and take notes can be integrated into a session.  This app has just been updated with access to Dropbox, making it even handier than before.


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