Friday, October 14, 2016

Great Resources for Halloween + Forests

October is one of our favourite months; we get some of our highest website visits this month.  There are so many fantastic ideas to help your classroom learn cool things while celebrating the fall season. Here’s a quick reminder of some of our Halloween-themed sites.

Enjoy Halloween is a collection of resources that will help you take advantage of opportunities for spooky (and not-so-spooky) fun and learning.  You’ll find stories, poems, online interactives, math and science activities, arts and crafts and recipes for treats.

  Creepy, Crawly and Cool
For all those students who love to read and learn about animals, this collection of resources about bats and spiders includes videos, online stories in both fiction and non-fiction, and mythology.  Don’t miss the teacher resources to help get your students interested in the creepy and crawly.

This Enjoy page is for those older students who enjoy the current pop culture fascination with zombies.  There are resources for CTF and CTS students about costume and makeup.  There are also some sites and videos that take a look at cultural and scientific explanations for zombies. Teachers, be sure to check out the zombie-themed resources for teaching STEM subjects.

In addition, we created a new Special Edition this fall about Forests and Climate Change.  This site is filled with resources (videos, articles, lesson plans) that could be used in Science, CTF and CTS classrooms.

We hope that you find some of these resources helpful as you plan your classroom activities this October. 

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Countdown to 20 Years

Back in 1997, the original Provincial Team of the newly created Telus Learning Connection [Catherine (Kullman) Macklam, (the late) Brian Cleary, Janet Bell, Kay Steward and Denis Chalifoux] were tasked to create a website. Of course, one of the big questions was "what would we call it?". Would it be called the TELUS Learning Connection or should it stand on it own with a unique domain name?  And also could it be a ".ca" extension?  Back then, ".ca" was only obtained through an application process to organizations that could prove that they had interests in more than one province. At the time, the TELUS Corporation which had heavily sponsored in the early years in Alberta, also operated in Ontario. Phew! But how did the name come about.  It was before a time when so many names and titles started showing up as combinations of numbers attached to words, so we were not getting on a bandwagon.  The concept of "2Learn" came as a result of the team gathered in a conference room within a design firm. That firm would develop the logo based on the team's brainstorming what the domain name would be. It was probably not our most difficult decision, but it was a good one that had long term implications. Thinking back on how over the years the name of the initial organization morphed from the TELUS Learning Connection [TLC] to The Education Society with some calling it TELUS 2Learn along the way.  Could we have anticipated being here almost 20 years later?

And what else couldn't we have anticipated in 1997? [Click on the items to read more]. Some science biggies like - how about that Pluto would no longer be a planet or that scientists would detect water on Mars? That we would communicate with and watch Chris Hadfield recording Space Oddity [over 32 million views and counting] on the space station.

That someone would skydive from space

Touch Screens would be almost ubiquitous and constantly improving.  

wrist band would monitor our health, deliver text messages or play our favourite music. GPS, a U.S. government owned program primarily for military use, would be part of all our daily lives. The advent of 3-D printers  would be an essential component of makerspaces in schools  We would be able to watch just about anything on our phone, including the videos above, and each other.

While it's always interesting to 'wow' each other with all the changes, particularly in personal technologies - there are many lists of fascinating technologies and terms not around even ten years ago. 

And yet some things are given longevity because there is a need.

One of the most insightful observations the late, great Stephen Jobs made back in 1996 was that people were already suffering from “information overload” and that ”most people get far more information than they can assimilate anyway.”  That team of people who laboured over the name of in 1997 knew that teachers would appreciate the help in gathering, reviewing, collating  and presenting web resources for classroom use. That hasn't changed as a goal for all the team members that have worked and continue to work on  - like Theresa Paltzat who became our digital librarian in 2007 before few knew that job title. 

As the primarily text-based web changed from those early days in 1997 to a multimedia resource, so adapted. As classroom technologies changed from stationary to mobile, from videoconferencing to web-based Skype or Hangout type environments, has continued to provide support for classroom teachers in their busier-than-ever roles in the classroom. 19 years since inception, we still average 5 million hits a month from teachers and learners around the world.

We hope you find what you need on as you begin the 2016-2017 school year and know we will be here to assist teachers as we can. Let us know what we can add to make the site more useful to you. We wish you a great start to your school year!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Happy June!

Can you believe another school year has come and gone?  As we anticipate all of the sunshine and relaxation that we’ll absorb over the summer, we’re prepped and excited for the upcoming fall.  The 2016 - 2017 school year will be’s 20th year!  20 years of working with educators in Alberta and providing resources and digital content to help teachers and students.

We’ll be back in late August, updating the website and all of the great resources.  Be sure to follow us on Twitter, G+ or Facebook. We update regularly, telling our social media followers about new and trending resources that they can use in their classrooms.

Have a great summer!  We’ll connect again in September.


Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Spirit of Alberta

In 2005, the year of Alberta’s centennial, an idea was born to create a digital resource of sites, printables, project ideas and images that teachers could use in lesson plans and activities about Alberta.  The Team and Teacher-Leaders got together and created lists of resources and projects aligned to Alberta curriculum. The Spirit of Alberta website was created from these ideas.

Over the past ten years, we have watched this website and these resources maintain steady interest from teachers (an average of 35,000 hits/4,000 page views per month).  We regularly have teachers call the office and ask about the Amazing Race Across Alberta, one of the original activities designed for the Spirit of Alberta.  It seems that some of the old resources are still key parts of teachers’ plans for Alberta regions in Grade 4.

We have spent the last month migrating the best of the Spirit of Alberta content over to a new version and url.  Many of the original resources including the Amazing Race and the printable crossword puzzle and quizzes are now available in the menu. For example, you can check out this page of resources for pond studies.  We have reviewed and included online resources in various categories for use as research or reference materials.

As a companion site to the interactive student resources in Kids Love and for Teens, Spirit of Alberta is a great jumping off point for any studies with an Alberta theme. Reviewing these great ideas, resources and activities for students and teachers made us proud to be Albertans!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

An ‘Egg’cellent Activity

Alberta has a rich history of Ukrainian immigrants maintaining and sharing their cultural traditions. According to the Canadian Encyclopedia, “Ukrainian Canadians are Canada's ninth largest ethnic group; Canada has the world's third-largest Ukrainian population behind Ukraine itself and Russia. Slightly more than 110,000 Ukrainian Canadians speak Ukrainian, and more than half live in the Prairie Provinces.”
At Easter, particularly with displays of colourful Easter eggs, we are reminded about the special traditions that Ukrainian immigrants brought to Canada. There is a both spirituality and art in the making of Ukrainian pysanky or Easter eggs. As part of’s Celebrating Easter page, we have a resource for students and teachers to learn about the meaning behind the symbols and colours used on pysanky. Visit the resource at The Art of Ukrainian Easter Eggs from

For younger students, we have several recommended interactive activities that embrace the traditional aspects of creating Easter eggs while making the activity colourful and fun.  These online activities can be used as art or seasonal activity .

Make a Pysanky Egg
Use your mouse to draw images on the egg or select from the many graphics and symbols.

Egg Decorating Symmetry
Create a symmetrically decorated egg by dragging patterns onto areas of the egg template. You can turn the vertical and horizontal line guides on or off.  

Make an Easter Egg
Choose the egg you would like to decorate. Then, choose designs or letters or draw on your egg. Click next and choose a toy to hide in your egg. Finally, you get to hide your egg! 

Easter Egg Fun
It's time to decorate your Easter Egg. Click on an egg, choose a colour and then add patterns and images.  

Embrace the tradition of Easter Eggs and get creative with your students. For all of our Easter resources, visit our Celebrating Easter page.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Centennial of Women’s Suffrage in Canada

Sometimes, it’s easy to take for granted the amazing democratic privileges and rights that we have here in Canada.  Over the next couple of months, we have the perfect opportunity to reflect on the struggles that early 20th Century women made on our behalf.

January 28, 2016 is the 100th anniversary of Manitoba women being granted the right to vote.  The provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan followed in the next few months, with Alberta women achieving the right to vote in April of 1916.

There are many places in our Alberta Social Studies curriculum to discuss women’s rights and the advancements that have been made over the past century.  In addition to learning about a citizen’s right to vote, students study the Famous Five and their fight to have women recognized as “Persons” under Canadian law, with the ability to hold a seat in the Canadian Senate.  We study how citizens participate in decision making and recognize the rights of everyone in a democracy. Secondary school provides more opportunities to learn about Canadians’ rights and freedoms and appreciate our unique Canadian identity.

We’ve pulled together some great teacher resources and articles about the women’s suffrage movement here in Canada. Visit: Special Edition: The Centennial of Women's Suffrage in Canada 
Let us know if you have other favourites to use with your students.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Powerful but easy image editors for student use

Into the second half of the school year, and looking for ways to engage your students in creative ways - demonstrating their knowledge with the addition of images in their work? Perhaps it’s a poem or short story to illustrate, a card or poster to prepare, a presentation to make.  And there are now many resources of public domain images for use by students - one of them is the Image Gallery, where there are all kinds of curriculum related images.  

But there is much more than just adding images to make that project/poem sing! With the use of image editors, students can add detail, effect and depth to those found images. Image editors are no longer restricted to use by CTF students because of complexity in learning the tool. There are some very good free drawing tools and image editors that can be used with little instruction that provide lots of opportunity for creativity.

Here are two tools that we will feature for older students - Be Funky and Sketchpad 3.7
Note that our samples are done in response to potential upcoming Valentine's Day season activities, but the possibilities for themes and topics are endless.

This image editor and collage maker is great for one-time quick work by students [13 years and older] because:

  • the ‘free’ portion of the tool has lots of available features such as effects, stamps, frames, overlays, textures, cutouts, etc. [if you really want the additional features, the cost is $5 per month].
  • you can upload and download the created image you work on into your computer, without it going into their public gallery, unless you indicate otherwise.
  • in addition to the usual image editing features, there are lots of special effects that students will love.
  • it has an easy collage maker
  • it’s web based so access is easy
Note that in the free version, the work done on an image should be done in one session. The saved image can be uploaded for additional work, but the original work done cannot be edited.

This is a much more sophisticated drawing tool and image editor, written in HTML 5 that students will love once they explore the tools. 
With many features such as the ones found in Photoshop type programs, Sketchpad 3.7 is worth considering because:

  • there are lots of features for the creative artist - for example, there are brushes that emulate fur, chrome and spirographs
  • layering is used, so that you can add, move, hide, and delete layers.
  • under the clipart icon - images can be uploaded as backgrounds, act as stencils for drawing [then later hidden], or can be made into stamps.
  • there is a history feature so you can easily move through the development of your work without deleting
  • there are many options for download, including save to Google Drive.
  • HTML 5 allows use by multiple technologies

More tools like these for students of all ages can be found in the Create site under Drawing and Painting.

Images used in the samples were found in   For many Valentine’s Day activities, have a look at our Enjoy Valentine’s Day page.