Google Classroom

I am working from home today instead of being in class, and I am really enjoying the progress I am making. This morning I finished my work on my passion project (I will be doing another post for that) and I started doing the training for Google Classroom so I can get certified as an Educator. As I am going into my practicum next year, I want to be able to use the resources that I know many schools are already using and I know can really help students to engage.

I already use some of the resources like YouTube, Google Slides and Google Docs for my own project and I have been able to link these to lesson plans as well. Especially in art and drama, I have used Slides to present different types of artists and styles, and in one drama unit I am looking at set design, so I have linked to many photos of set designs around the world. For that one I also used a Netflix documentary called “Abstract” which has an amazing segment on a set designer who does theatre and live music work.

Screenshot 2017-03-31 16.28.46

This is what I working through today – mostly introduction to the products that they offer, but I found the section on using digital information responsibly to be very important. They have loads of links to sites where teachers have set up ways to talk to your students, or information on where to find Digital Citizenship Agreements and more.  Obviously school policies will not be enough since technology is always changing and we have to be able to have open conversations with students about appropriate use and behaviour, especially when we are working on communal documents and projects. They need to know how to protect their information and how to responsibly use what they do find. I also found the section on copyright to be quite good. We don’t talk about it very much, but we do need to be careful when reposting or using images online if we don’t have permission. The sooner students learn this (and teachers, too!) the better.

I plan to keep up with this training and get my certification before summer, as classes end next week and I hope to have a little more time to dive in before my 2 week practicum at the end of April.


Tech with Keith Rispin

Keith Rispin – Skype into classroom – tech teacher in West Vancouver

Google Apps

Everthing is based on Google Drive. Google classroom – specific for education. Also Edmoto,  moodle (has some security issues), WebCT, Sharepoint (not a good one).

Google classroom manages: students, assignments, resources, assessment

Allows student independence. Infinite resource possibilities. Relevant to their learning. Ease of collaboration. Can invite other teachers to collaborate with students as well. Organized assignment delivery and reception. Access anytime anywhere.

Security of student data has become very important in the last 5 years. GC is a secure system – not data mined. However, you should be using whatever system the district has approved. This way, if anything is hacked then you are not personally responsible. If the district has approved it, the district is on the hook for responsibility of data.

You set up a classroom and add assignments with links and embedded video, etc and push it to one student, one classroom, or all classrooms. They can save a copy on their drive until they hand it back in for assessment. Once the assessments are done, you can post it to each student on google classroom so they have their marks back right away.

Assessment is fairly weak – but you can give points to an assignment for grading.

Do students get notifications of new assignments or do they have to log into the classroom? Yes but only to email, which many students do not use unless they are directed to it.

Freshgrade? For elementary it is good, but high school it is just way too many updates for student progress. HS teachers have too many students to keep up with and it would become too time consuming.

I had signed up for google classroom to start the learning tutorials, but I have been so bogged down with school and work that I just haven’t had time to keep up with it. But I would like to get certified and plan to do it after regular classes are out next week.


Formative Assessment

url.jpgThis path is continually reflective – knowing where you are, adapting to serve the student, finding what you need…

Online assessment technologies – examples – kahoot, formative

Kahoot – – the teacher creates a quiz, invites students to participate via a code that is given for the specific quiz. Students use their own tech to join and are given points for the correct answers. There is immediate feedback for the students – it shows them if their answer is right, and also it shows how many students chose which answers (there are 4 for each question). As the teacher you can also choose all answers as correct just to get an idea for what students are interested in (for example: What type of art do yo like doing the most).

It is very fun, engaging for students, and a fun kind of competitive. We use it in our practicum class and we love it. It’s a great break from lecture as well – gets us laughing and doing something different to assess where we are at.



Formative – real time assessment tool for tests and worksheets

Diving into Inquiry

Today we had the incredible pleasure of having Trevor Mackenzie into our class to share about inquiry in the classroom and how he scaffolds student understanding to allow students choice and voice.

I am posting my notes for my own reference but I will be referring to his website and writing more on this later. I’ve been thinning a lot about using this in drama to give students opportunity to write and create their own work and present it live or via film…more on that later.

Genius hour

Data is important but knowing your students is much more important

Data should help you get to know your students – there is a always a story behind the data (absenteeism or grades) and this should direct your instruction



Gradual release of responsibility/control

Structured – get the boxes checked here and in the first 3 so you know the learning objectives have been done before free inquiry

Trevor talks openly with the students about the process – meta cognitive about learning. At end of Guided they write a reflection about what skills and abilities they needed to get through guided, and what were the challenges and what are they worried about going into free.

Structured – “how are stories told and why are they important”

Units start with essential questions instead of thematic units – then you can bring in multiple forms of resources

Teacher selects question and resource and the performance task (summative assessment – choose something they won’t likely do themselves later, like an essay)

Controlled – still ask the question

identify resources but they choose which to use

Some choice in the presentation task

Guided – teacher chooses topic, students draft a question that will focus their inquiry

  1. ex) what makes a global citizen?

what 2 traits to possess that make you a good global citizen? What 2 traits do you need to work towards? Then they work towards that using resources around them, including working with other students from other schools etc

mentors and leaders

can we actually improve the child’s literacy over the 2 months of working together

give children a + outlook for learning towards high school

Assessment – 3 reflections posted to their blog and their personal narrative essay talking about the buddy project

Free – they pick the topic, teacher helps them design their essential question and they work on it for the next 2 months – weekly reflections

they do a free inquiry proposal – they need to meet requirements of the course, is it achievable, is it meaningful


Graphic – Four Pillars of inquiry

– inquiry Proposal

Minecraft in the classroom

In class today we had some students come in from Colquitz Middle School to show us how to use Minecraft, and their teacher gave some specifics on setting it up for a classroom for learning.

I have watched my niece and nephews use it over the years and never really got why it was so interesting. I have to admit, I still don’t love the graphics and find it a bit slow, but I can totally see the draw now. The ability to create anything, any world, any type of place with any type of creatures is exciting. You can play alone or with other people and change what is allowed in the world. Being able to choose how you do what you do is the ultimate personalization, and when kids are surrounded by things already made and done for them, this is a great thing to have.

I did get a little dizzy and my stomach started turning at one point – too much movement on the screen for me. But I am also quite sick today and already have a rather massive headache so that was not helping me at all. Even as I’m writing this I’m wishing I was in bed right now instead of at this computer! So I’m thinking it would be easier once I was well and got used to using it so I wasn’t constantly running into walls.

The students were excellent tutors – from getting set up on the right server to helping us with controls and all the “how to” information. They clearly loved using the game and were engaged in helping the whole time they were here.

For using this in the classroom, particularly art, there were a couple of suggestions: we could create a pixelated version of a famous art piece using a flat world, we could create a 3D concept using Minecraft and then replicate in real world. It is also used in social studies classrooms – creating ancient worlds and trying to live in them like ancient Egypt – showing the kids how challenging it would be through the use of video games is so much more engaging than reading in a textbook alone. Once they see the real application to them (in the game) they will remember better what they were taught. Not only that, but it opens up the creative thinking process and develops problem solving skills. When they work in groups they can work together to solve problems and protect each other, which is amazing for real world learning and developing students into empathetic adults. I also see it as leadership development, particularly for kids that are already using Minecraft – they can help the other students who are new to it.

Overall I could see how this could be a great resource for classes. I am not sure it is what I would use – in visual art there is so much tactile work, and in drama it is all about movement and voice and not sitting in front of a computer – so I don’t see the need to use computers in those environments. But for other classes that are traditionally more dry and lecture based this could be extremely helpful.


I have been looking into different tech apps for teachers to use in the classroom for my ED-P practicum class this term. I have found several that I really love: Classcraft, go formative, and flipgrid. I chose to present flipgrid to my class this week as it is really interactive and, frankly, less work than the others. I did set up an account at go formative, and I would be happy to use it in my classroom, but to set up my students was going to be a little too time consuming, and due to this being year 4 at UVic, and it being the last month of term, I really had to streamline some of my work. However, easy doesn’t mean it is lame, so I have had some fun creating my short presentation. I copied and pasted my handout for it that tells how to set it up and use it. It is extremely easy to do and really straightforward if a person wanted to go to flipgrid and set it up.


What is it?

Flipgrid is a website that uses video to connect with students.

How does it work?

A teacher posts a topic or question and students respond via video to the group. Each student with the access code can see the other videos in the group and respond to them as well.

How do I set it up?

1.Go to

  1. Create a free account (you can upgrade to a paid account to get more features but you don’t need to for simple video response)
  2. Select the button in the top right hand corner that says “New Grid” You can create a new grid for each class, or each topic, depending on what you want. Under each grid you can create several discussions.
  3. Click on “New Topic”
  4. Fill in the information for your topic: title and question or idea. You can also upload a video that you already have or create a video to go along with the topic for the students to reference.
  5. Select “Create Topic” at the bottom of the screen
  6. The screen will have a pop up that tells you how your students can access the grid and the topic

How will it improve student engagement?

What I like about flipgrid is that it is a fun way of sharing learning and ideas. So many kids are using snapchat and making videos now that this is a way to engage them using technology that they understand. It has an immediate gratification in that they can post a video right away and see who else is posting.

Today I am using it for physical education purposes, but it could be used for any discussion, or for posting a clip of a speech at a protest, or to show a location that an artist might use as inspiration. This can be used from a cell phone or from a webcam, and if not all students have technology available, they could work in groups as well.

Flipgrid also has a Global Grid Connection page where a teacher can connect with other flipgrid classrooms around the world. This is a great way to connect with people and topics that students may not have access to otherwise, particularly students in their own age group.

PSII visit (art from PSII website)

Today was a very inspiring day – we had a tour of PSII school downtown (Pacific School of Innovation and Inquiry ). Jeff, the principal, took us around and talked about the way the school operates, the budgeting involved, the schedule and personalization of learning. They have co-operation with the YMCA across the street for the PE class, which is also personalized so it can be group or private, and can change as they choose. Their teacher is a Cirque de Soleil style performer so some classes take on performance and art as well as physical movement. Students build their learning around their own inquiry – what they are interested in. Through chemistry a girl is making her own make up, a boy is making and recording music, people are using the 3D printer to create items, they are designing film and video work…the list goes on. All while learning what is in the curriculum for BC students.

There are some group discussions and classes and a huge room full of desks where students collaborate with each other on projects, and a quiet room where they can have privacy or just a quiet space to work. There is a music studio room complete with several instruments, a video room for creating film work, a science lab, and so on. I kept thinking that I wished I had been introduced to this kind of learning when I was young. It took me so long to think for myself, to be unafraid to ask questions for fear of being judged or scolded. If I had an environment where questions were encouraged and where learning had real world application, maybe school would not have been so daunting for me. Maybe I could have been thriving in a place where students are taken seriously and taught to go after what they want.

What I love is that the students are learning autonomy. They are self-directing and self-regulating. They are discovering who they are and how they learn best in different situations. Because of the informal structure, they learn to listen to themselves as to when they need a break, when they need quiet, when they need to challenge. They are learning how to use resources around them, how to ask for help when they come up against something they don’t know. This autonomy is so important! Kids should be leaving school feeling confident in their own self understanding. They should have had the time to discover how to treat their own needs so that they can be successful when they leave home and go to university or go to work or create a business. Knowing yourself is imperative in any relationship – we have to be able to say what we want and why, and recognize when we need a break or need to just sit down and breathe. We need to be able to read other people’s body language and be open to their ideas and intentions – this is what prepares students for life after grade 12 graduation. This is the biggest inspiration I took from the school today: not only are they learning pertinent skills and gaining knowledge about what is in our BC curriculum, but they are learning to function well as a society and learning how to discipline themselves. I can imagine that these kids are going to go out and start business and be world changers because they know how to harness ability and resource and how to make learning happen for themselves. PSII is a gift to them.

Instructional Design

We looked into instructional design models today, defining and researching different models. The model I am presenting on is Merrill’s Component Display Theory. Most of the websites we visited were full of jargon and really difficult to understand, but there was one that seemed to have the information displayed in a fairly visually meaningful way: .

We chose to use Merrell shoes to be the point of teaching – so connecting the theory to the shoe, even though they are different people and things, it will be fun to make the connection. So we spent the class working through ideas on how to teach the theory using the shoe. We would have used videos or other things online, but every video we saw was terrible and boring, and even the videos of Merrill himself were not interesting in any way. Which is interesting, given that he is the one talking about education!

So this week we will be finishing our presentation and hopefully will be able to learn about this system and have a laugh at the same time.


I really enjoyed watching the video of Sir Ken Robinson today. I have watched several Ted talks that he gave and he is inspiring to hear! I think of my dad who is a doctor and excelled in the memorization system of learning, and my husband who is a tradesman who excelled in skills learning, and myself as an artist who struggled desperately in high school despite my best efforts to do well.

Do Schools Kill Creativity

I know the system of education did not serve me well in high school. However, I have made it work for me in university. I have worked very hard and managed to study and work my way into scholarships while still working my job and volunteering on the side. But the reason I do so well now is that instruction has changed. Art is my main subject and Theatre is my second, so they are both highly engaging and not based on memorization of facts and figures. They are physical and tactile and aural and writing based – so it is much easier for me to dive into the material. art-table

I think changing the system does not constitute rewards for being lazy, as some may think. It instead engages people and encourages them to work hard to learn what they want to know. Isn’t that more apt? Particularly in a world where technology moves so quickly and we are constantly having to adapt and are told we may have 7 careers in our lifetime, we have to be able to learn what we need along the way and be motivated to do so. I am in school because I am leaving a good career to pursue my passion. That is why I do well – I am motivated, not to get good grades, but to learn everything I can in order to be the best teacher I can be. Because I am motivated, the result is that I learn immensely and have the added bonus of getting good grades.