Winter Happenings – O365 Tidbits

Well winter has certainly provided some excitement – shoveling walkways and driveways, negotiating hills, scientific discoveries of snow and storytelling. All of this culminates into tidbits of possibilities. 

How is your comfort in O365? – Whether it’s organization of OneDrive or Teams or Forms (for assessment or gathering data), we continue to offer insights in how this platform can effectively support your work. Our O365 Meets Make Writing Joint Learning Series offer entry points for writers of all levels to share their story through “making”, dictation (speech-to-text) or immersive reader (text-to-speech) and just-in-time commenting support. Integrating these powerful tools can strengthen the writing process. 

Using Imagination Pattern blocks to build a story
Beginning, Middle… Make story come alive.

TIP 1: If you use concepts of “making” in your classroom, have students take a picture of it and post to their O365 Word to continue with their writing or use it as a memory cue to allow their story to visually speak. You do not need to ‘break the bank’ on collecting manipulatives for this – using any supplies from the school can spark imagination. The process of creating and table conversation provide a rehearsal of the story in the mind allowing a story to unfold. This may help some students from having to stare at a blank page with no way to start. 

TIP 2: This involves File Management or “organizing your content bits so you can find them again without scanning your entire OneDrive. [Think of this as “Marie Kondo” in action.] Create and name folders to organize content. Open the folder you wish to work and launch a new document, which will automatically save in that folder. Name the document (you can always change the title later). This alleviates ending up with a list of documents named “Document“. If you move the slider on Simplified Ribbon, you’ll see a more detailed toolbar ribbon. 

TIP 3: Dictate (speech-to-text) or Immersive Reader (text-to-speech) belongs to everyone! From time to time, we get tired of keyboarding or our fingers might not work as fast that day. Select the DICTATE icon (a selection of languages will appear) and record your thoughts. It will even add punctuation. [Desktops will require a microphone attached. The microphone on our new teacher laptops work great, picking up our voices from quite a distance.]

Immersive Reader can be found in VIEW > IMMERSIVE READER

This tool offers a variety of supports – reading the text aloud, editable background colours to help with visual acuity as well as dyslexic font and sizes. 




Another handy option might be Translate. Students can write in their first language and the text can be translated into English. This can also happen the other way.  This option is found in REVIEW > TRANSLATE. 

More handy tips will be coming your way soon. You can also subscribe to our site by using the Subscribe widget on the right side so you don’t miss out. 

Happy September – Welcome back!

Happy September Everyone. Hope you all had a great summer with time to connect with family and friends. 

This year we have quite a few new things to share, including our new home base at Canada Way Education Centre (tucked in between Canada Way and Woodsworth). Pop by and say hello in Room 3 > some of our workshops and teams will be held in the Presentation Room 8, while other sessions will be at school sites across the district. 


We have a number of focus learning sessions in the Staff Development Calendar to check out (more to come): 

  • Develop a web presence using blogs, websites (save time, get shortcuts)
  • Communicating student learning using digital portfolios and  multiple tools (eg. green screen, powerpoint…)
  • ADST centres kits (with core competencies) 
  • coding initiatives (Tynker (a whole program), Micro:Bits, Minecraft)
  • Fast ForWord to support struggling readers
Stay tuned for more information (email if you’re interested): 
  • O365 (basics and using Teams) 
  • coding initiatives (Tynker, Micro:Bits, Minecraft)
  • Using VR/AR to spark learning
  • All the Right Type (keyboarding)

As well, we have some joint learning teams (Making and Writing using O365; Math and Minecraft; CSL – Writing, self-assessment and inclusion). 

For those of you looking for support in addressing Digital Citizenship, please see the link in the top toolbar under CURRICULA or sidebar. 

We’re SO excited we’re starting right away!  Email if you have any questions or would like to jump-start ideas. 

Learning Walks

We are fortunate to live in an area that is surrounded with nature right outside our doorstep. The popularity of using “learning walks” add new elements to our day. I can think of the power of this opportunity in every one of the curricular areas.

“What if” we placed devices in the hands of students and asked them to capture images that they felt were significant. Now that takes focused observational skills to weed out the many and only select visuals that are “significant”. What would significant mean? It might mean something quite different to every individual. Imagine the conversation that would open. 

VOICE RECORD PRO (professional grade audio recording app with immediate feedback) allow audio recording of thoughts including the option to embed an image. Save the named clip as an mp4 and it is ready to upload to student blogfolios or websites.  (*Uploading requires wifi.)

Imagine the possibilities of this simple addition of technology in the immediacy. These might include: 

  1. decision making in the present moment 
  2. hone observational skills (slow down to appreciate the details)
  3. include every student in their efforts to communicate their choices of significance (written requirement is removed)
  4. oral language development practice (app provides immediate feedback through a visual needle gauge)
  5. collaborative conversation in partners with assessment feedback
  6. responsibility in care of a device

I was so excited about this idea that I tweeted it out last weekend. 






We would love to hear your stories of how this might work in your curricular environments.