Wednesday, December 2, 2015

These are a few of our favourite things….

Looking forward to the holiday season, here are some sites that you may not have encountered before. We think they are exceptional for students and teachers alike.

The Met - Christmas Story
We have featured this before, but include it because 'tis the reason for the season'. The birth of Jesus Christ and the events surrounding it are the subject of many beautiful works of art in the Metropolitan Museum. Explore, listen and learn with these wonderful images.

Robert Sabuda - Make Your Own Pop-ups
A wonderful art activity. Create your own Christmas pop-up cards! Scroll down to select reindeer, angels, Christmas trees, poinsettia, snowflake pop-up cards and more. Templates are provided as well as instructions set up as a slideshow.  For older children and teens, once made, these cards can be decorated in any number of ways.                                                                            

Christmas Karaoke
A fun activity for any classroom!   Start singing along to some Christmas carols and other holiday songs. The music will play; sing along by yourself or as a group with the words projected on a screen.   Access the full selection of songs through the menu at the top of the page.

Sugar Sugar

A math challenge for you!  You need to draw a line to guide the sugar down to the cup. Each level will get increasingly difficult. On some levels, you will have to route the sugar through a color dot.

Star Wars Snowflake

Here's an interesting twist to the traditional snowflake. Download the PDF documents, print them out and cut along the lines. They are very intricate and may require a sharp hobby knife, so these might not be for younger students, but will engage even the coolest teen.  

Highlights - Design Your Own Gingerbread House

This is the way to decorate a gingerbread house without getting all messy. Add icing, candy and other items to your house. You can flip, rotate and resize your items. 

All of these and more Christmas sites can be found in our Enjoy Christmas page.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

November Resources

The calendar tells us that it’s almost the middle of November. We’re two and a half months into this new school year but it seems like it just started yesterday. What do we have on tap for the rest of November?

Bullying and Cyberbullying
In Canada we recognize Bullying Awareness Week during the week of November 15 -21.  The US has been busy sharing bullying resources during the month of October, which they call National Bullying Prevention Month.  We’ve pulled together the best resources about both bullying and cyberbullying and made them all available to you from one page. You will find teacher resources as well as interactive games and videos that you can use with your students.

Climate Action 2015
We've aggregated teacher resources, articles, and videos about the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris from November 30 - December 11.  We’ve also added some engaging interactive media/games for high school Science and Biology (greenhouse gas emissions, climate change, climate history) and Grade 7 Science: Interactions and Ecosystems.  There is also content for high school Social Studies discussions about global responsibility.

NaNoWriMo is a clever, shortened version of saying National Novel Writing Month.  This page of aggregated sites provides some great ideas for story starters, character development and interactives that can help your students get organized as they start their writing projects.  Even if you are not participating in NaNoWriMo, you may find some useful resources for upcoming assignments or discussion.

Time may be flying by, but it’s still too early to start talking about Christmas resources.  We’ll post soon about our collection of Christmas and Hanukah related resources. We’re also updating a teacher favourite on our website.  Watch this space for updates soon.  

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Bats, Spiders and Zombies in the Classroom

Fall has officially arrived - I think that gives us permission to start talking about and planning for Halloween.  And can we mention, zombies?

We have a few Enjoy pages that are filled with crafts and activities for these occasions.  Of course, we’ve included many seasonally themed science, math and language arts activities as well.

We Give Thanks is filled with autumn-themed arts and crafts, curricular interactives and resources about fall science. Look at the Literature section to find e-books and poetry for Thanksgiving and Fall.

Enjoy Halloween is a collection of resources that will help you take advantage of opportunities for 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.

Z is for Zombie
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. Be sure to check out the zombie-themed resources for teaching STEM subjects.

How will you use some of these great resources to engage your students in some fun seasonal learning?

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Best of September

As we start our 19th year, we remain committed to providing Alberta educators with great digital content on our website. Check out these Enjoy pages and Special Editions that you don’t want to miss in September.

In our Back2School Enjoy page, get reacquainted with our Student Sites, filled with curriculum-related interactive media for students and our Teacher Sites, a source of support for teachers in a variety of areas, including digital life skills, inclusion and apps for student-created content. Get proactive and pass along the link for Parents.

The upcoming federal election is on every news station and social media feed right now.  We’ve pulled together some of the best sites and interactive media for teachers and students. You will find key resources for Social Studies Grade 6, 9 and 12.

On this 35th anniversary of the Marathon of Hope, The Terry Fox Run has become an important fundraising and awareness event in many Alberta schools.  There are wonderful sites and videos that can help your students get to know Terry Fox and his legacy and motivate your school community to raise money for this cause.

Enjoy these first few weeks back at school.  Stay in touch and we’ll keep sharing great resources with you.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Imagine a world without

2015 has been an interesting year in Alberta, with a downturn in the economy and political upheaval. With first the uncertainty of the spring and then a significant change in government in May, everyone in education, including the Education Society has faced challenges. For, one of our main challenges is funding, which we have traditionally received in the spring through grants. 

Over the past 18 years, the Provincial Team has exemplified leadership in educational technology. The website has always been a manifestation of the professional development work of the Team. Our January 14, 2015 Blog called Should auld websites be forgot…. captured many of the changes in the website that have occurred over the years, aligned with our professional development focus, projects and programs. Resources have been gathered based on teacher requests, websites have been developed, adapted and updated with advances in educational technology. A most recent example is the “Create” website that grew out of the Web 2.0 site, when our fieldwork indicated a need for the identification of student tools and apps for knowledge creation.

And that brings us to the 2015-2016 school year, where a lack of funding will limit the size and the activities of the Provincial Team. Most significantly, the Provincial Team Teachers will be returning to their districts, to continue their careers in educational technology there.   With much regret, the professional development services offered by the Education Society will be curtailed for this school year. 

So how does the Society face this major challenge?  As Winston Churchill said “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”

In the 2015-2016 school year, with limited staff, our primary focus will be the maintenance of the portal and its many sites. With over 50,000 visits per month from educators and their students [resulting in 450,000+ page views and over 5,000,000 hits monthly], we have a great opportunity and responsibility to nurture this highly valued resource. Please stay connected with us through our twitter feed, blog and news on the website.  

We would love to hear from you…..

Monday, June 8, 2015

Imagine a world before Google. was there! is 18 years old. Imagine a world before Google [1998]. was there! Collectively, the Provincial Team members, the many educators who have participated as TELUS Learning Connection Teacher-Leaders and Video Conferencing Leads, the Board of Directors (and the organizations they represent) and the many affiliated stakeholder groups working with us have accomplished great deeds in supporting learning and teaching with technology. Many of those early Teacher-Leaders have become leaders in school communities and districts, and within Alberta Education itself. [A great piece of research on this: The Impact of the Cascade Model on Leadership Development in Alberta, June 2012

Think of how significantly the world of educational technology has changed in the last 18 years. In 1997, the Internet was in its infancy with an estimated 100,000 websites on the “web”. There was no broadband, no DSL, no SuperNet - mainly dial-up for most Albertans [broadband was introduced to the world in 1997; wi-fi came along in 1999]. Can you remember the very first time you watched a video live on the ‘Net and how painful that was? Not only because of buffering issues but also because the average CRT monitor was 640x480 pixels. We used to search with Webcrawler, Altavista and Lycos.There were no smartphones, tablets, Chromebooks, netbooks or flat-screen monitors. Laptops were high-end purchases.  Storage on USB sticks or in `the cloud’? My goodness - how about portable hard drives, cd-roms, 3.5” disks; that’s what we depended on for back-up in 1997. 

Through Netscape Navigator and other early browsers, we were introduced to Web.2.0, not knowing the previous edition would become known as Web 1.0. Consider some of the many terms you probably use, but never could have imagined back in 1997: phishing, podcast, tweet, selfie, hashtag, gig, cookies, e-book, trolling, defrag, pdf, png, megapixel, malware, app, chrome, touch screen, phablet, QR codes. 

More importantly, there was the teaching and learning with technology. 
" We now accept the fact that learning is a lifelong process of keeping abreast of change. And the most pressing task is to teach people how to learn." [Peter Drucker]. 

Over the years, there have been many descriptors for the ways and means of technology infusion into classroom practice: One to One, Adaptive Learning, Digital Literacy, Digital Citizenship, BYOD, the flipped classroom, virtual learning, asynchronous learning, blended learning, inclusive learning, Content Management Systems [CMS], Learning Management Systems [LMS], MOOCs, Differentiated Learning, Wikis, M-Learning, PBL, webinars, Makerspaces, Augmented Reality, learning analytics, wearable technologies - to name a few. 

Reflecting on our practice with pedagogical theories such as Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy, TPACK, Constructivism, and the SAMR model for transformational teaching has helped us grow. As we have worked to determine the best ways to use technology, we have known that is always about student-centred learning. has continuously provided significant support for student-centred learning, most recently in two large multi-year, multi-district projects: Digital Literacy and BYOD. These two video clips provide a flavour of the impact of those projects and the difference has made. 

What is in the future for next year? Watch for our next blog.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Minecraft May!

Using MinecraftEdu as an education tool is trending - if you’re interested in what it is and how it works, this four-part webinar series is for you.


What you get:
  • a FREE user account for MinecraftEdu that will allow you to explore the MinecraftEdu world in our sessions AND on your own for the month of May
  • Time in the MinecraftEdu world with the Team and your colleagues as you get hands-on experience bulding in the world of Minecraft
  • support resources curated by the Team and ideas for leveraging Minecraftedu to meet curricular outcomes
  • Flexible scheduling with dates throughout the month of May.

PLUS get a ...

non-expiring license for your personal use on a server if you are one of the first ten teachers to register and pay for the Minecraft series.

This is a four part series.  Each webinar will be one hour long and will be offered on multiple dates, providing several entry points for participants. Select the dates you would like to attend on the registration form. Cost to attend this series is $125/person.

Register now!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Best Free Digital Content for Wetlands

It’s April and that means Spring in Alberta.  Students are starting to head out into playgrounds and yards, taking in all of the changes that spring brings.  Many school playgrounds resemble nothing more than a boggy wetland right now.   ;)

Image from Image GallerySpeaking of wetlands (ahem), we have a great list of interactive resources for the Grade 5 Wetland Ecosystems unit that will have students building food webs, watching videos and experimenting with human interaction within wetlands...and hopefully, exploring wetlands.
Need images of wetlands?  While you are on the page, click on the IMG button to the right of Wetland Ecosystems.  You will find 257 kid-friendly images of wetlands that you and your students can use freely for educational purposes.  

Then there are videos like this one from Ducks Unlimited. has a playlist of selected resources suitable for Gr. 5 on Wetlands.

Let us know what you think of these resources and if you find them helpful!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Visual Literacy….A picture IS worth a thousand words

When you look at this image, what words come to mind... Spring? Noisy? Hunger? Survival? Demanding? Ugly? Beautiful? Desperation? Helpless? Abandoned? Parenting?

According to data shared by the Visual Teaching Alliance, 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual [Hyerle, 2000] with our eyes registering up to 36,000 visual messages per hour [Jensen, 1996]. Visuals are processed 60,000X faster in the brain than text [3M, 2001]; we can get the sense of a visual scene in less than 1/10 of a second and the brain can see images that last for just 13 milliseconds.

Our brain capacity and processing is pretty impressive! With images [photos, artworks, infographics, maps, charts, etc.] so prominent in our digital world, what is the impact on our teaching practices? Let’s take a look at visual literacy.

Back in 1969, John Debes first coined the term ‘Visual Literacy’ and defined it as “ a group of vision-competencies a human being can develop by seeing and at the same time having and integrating other sensory experiences. The development of these competencies is fundamental to normal human learning. When developed, they enable a visually literate person to discriminate and interpret the visible actions, objects, symbols, natural or man-made, that he encounters in his environment. Through the creative use of these competencies, he is able to communicate with others. Through the appreciative use of these competencies, he is able to comprehend and enjoy the masterworks of visual communication.”  

Lynell Burmark, Ph.D., educator and author of Visual Literacy: Learn to See, See to Learn, said, “…unless our words, concepts, ideas are hooked onto an image, they will go in one ear, sail through the brain, and go out the other ear. Words are processed by our short-term memory where we can only retain about 7 bits of information (plus or minus 2).  Images, on the other hand, go directly into long-term memory where they are indelibly etched”.
An Ontario teacher captured some key concepts on visual literacy across the curriculum very well in this video.

The Alberta English Language Arts Program of Studies for Kindergarten to Grade 9 includes visual literacy (as Viewing) as a key part of language arts.  “Viewing and representing are integral parts of contemporary life. These skills allow students to understand the ways in which images and language may be used to convey ideas, values and beliefs. Viewing is an active process of attending to and comprehending such visual media as television, advertising images, films, diagrams, symbols, photographs, videos, drama, drawings, sculpture and paintings. Viewing enables students to acquire information and to appreciate the ideas and experiences of others..”

Knowing what visual literacy is, how important it is to our students’ learning and motivated to take advantage of the image-rich world we live in, would like to suggest some resources for consideration:

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Webinars...Like Walking on the Moon

As you can see, we’ve spent some time in our office talking about webinars: how to make them engaging, how to get people to attend in groups and how to make them worth your time and our time. So, acknowledging that webinars are a hard sell, we’ve been playing around with different formats, times and options.  Using great new content (hot topics!), we’ve created some standalone sessions and some webinars in series. Click here to see our latest webinar offerings.

Our final thought: We do believe in the PD power of webinars and while we acknowledge that attending a webinar can be kind of like standing in a telephone booth talking to yourself, we think it’s also a little like walking on the moon. So walk on the moon with us. If you have some technical trouble along the way, give us a call, we’ll help you. We’re working hard to make this easier for you.  If you have ideas about how to make our webinars more valuable to you, let us know. We’re always listening...even when we’re on the moon.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Executive Function is Hard

Lately we seem to be thinking a lot about executive function deficits. Even though the term ‘executive function’ has been floating around the edu-sphere for a while, it came to the forefront of our office conversation as we worked with teachers who have students with challenges in this area. We were looking to provide technological supports for these teachers and their students with executive function deficits.

According to the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University,“Executive function and self-regulation skills are the mental processes that enable us to plan, focus attention, remember instructions, and juggle multiple tasks successfully. Just as an air traffic control system at a busy airport safely manages the arrivals and departures of many aircraft on multiple runways, the brain needs this skill set to filter distractions, prioritize tasks, set and achieve goals, and control impulses.”

Students with conditions such as Autism or ADHD, for example, may have accompanying EF challenges. These challenges present real roadblocks for their learning and because of the broad scope of the deficit, they are exceptionally difficult for teachers to accommodate. It is not as easy as simply giving a speech-to-text tool.  While speech-to-text and text-to-speech tools have come a long way, they are only part of the puzzle when it comes to students with executive function deficits.

We have curated three new sections on 2Include Me (our inclusion website) that deal with particular aspects of EF:

In each of these sections, we have listed tools with features to support executive function. According to Kool Tools 4 Students, AT tools that support working memory best include “graphic organizers and templates for data collection and organizing information, embedded prompts for categorizing and systematizing, checklists and guides for note-taking.”  A link to this resource and more can be found in the “For Teachers” link on each of the tool pages.

As always with Ed Tech and AT tools, we must remember that one tool will not work for every student.  It can be a process to find the right tool for the right student on the right device. Here at the office we will continue to think about tools to support students with executive function deficits. As we are always adding and improving our selection of resources, we encourage you to let us know about the tools and teacher supports you are using.  What’s working for your students?