Sunday, January 27, 2013

Here Goes Something ... I guess

For well over a year now, my professional goal has been to expand my interaction with the global teaching community.  As you can well imagine, the benefits of developing a supportive and passionate Professional Learning Network (PLN) have been very inspiring and thought-provoking.  The way in which I approach teaching my classes now is very different than it was even a few short months ago.  In particular, I am most pleased to report that my students have also benefited from these new teaching practices as we have incorporated many innovative ideas into our daily classroom activities.

Without question, the connectivist approach of #etmooc has certainly motivated me to continue my pursuit of life-long learning.  Specifically, #etmooc participants are encouraged to act upon the following principles as outlined by Alec Couros in his welcoming comments:

1.  Make your learning visible.

2.  Contribute to the learning of others.

Even before #etmooc started, I was very good about applying and practicing both of these principles.  However, I was definitely starting to hit a rut.  It is this powerful video that made me realize I need to continue pushing my limits and boundaries in order to fully maximize the potential of the global connections I have made.

Okay, so where do we go from here?  What new challenge am I willing to take on?  Well, here goes something ... I guess:

I have always wanted to connect with my on-line colleagues in a more direct and personal way.  I have also wanted to try Google Hangouts.  So I have decided to challenge myself and host three - 1 hour Google Hangout sessions this week.  Accordingly, I am extending a formal invitation to all those interested, especially to my fellow #etmooc participants, to join me.  The schedule is below along with potential discussion topics.  

Wednesday, January 30  9 pm EST - #etmooc Thoughts so far

Thursday, January 31st   4 pm EST - The Global Teaching Community

Friday, February 1st        1 pm EST - Connected Learning

If you are interested in joining us, please feel free to contact me beforehand or just join in.  The Google Hangout will be entitled "etmooc Faculty Lounge".

I look forward to the opportunity of connecting with you.  See you Wednesday!  

photo credit: <a href="">alisonseaman</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>

photo credit: <a href="">giulia.forsythe</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Getting Fired Up about #etmooc

Hello for Kamloops, BC Canada!

This post is a bit different than my usual entries as starting this week, I am participating in an amazing online professional development opportunity - #etmooc.  (More information can be found at -

In the coming weeks, I will be writing about my #etmooc experiences so that we can all benefit so look out for those upcoming posts!

Below is our first #etmooc assignment - an introductory piece about ourselves.  Please feel free to check it out!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Create Stylish Word Clouds with Tagxedo

The De-tech-tive 4 Teachers Word Cloud
Tagxedo is a free, online web tool that students can use to create very visually appealing word clouds.  As you can see from the image on the left, word clouds can be generated in the shapes related to the topic.  For visual learners this is an excellent tool to highlight or emphasis key terms, concepts or themes.

Tagxedo offers many terrific features such as:
1. customization of fonts, themes, colors, orientation and shapes.  
2.  saving images for printing and sharing
3.  numerous fine-tuning options

(the pedagogical rationale for the use of technology in the classroom)  



Visual Literacy

To interpret, recognize, appreciate, and understand information presented through objects and/or symbols


To elaborate, refine, analyze, and evaluate ideas in order to improve and maximize creative efforts.

Language Skills

To expand and improve vocabulary by using various language expressions such as synonyms, homonyms, antonyms, etc.    

Sample Activities:

The official blog of Tagxedo offers an excellent resource for teachers entitled "101 Ways to Use Tagxedo".  Below is a sampling of some of the great lesson ideas offered:  

1.  Contrast Candidates in a Political Debate - Using debates, speeches, slogans, promises, etc., students can examine the political platform of two or more political candidates.

2.  Current Events - Using key terms from various news outlets (newspaper, radio, television, etc.), students can summarize the latest newsworthy event.

3.  Make a Self Portrait - Using one's dreams, hopes, character traits, goals, etc., students can summarize their personality. 

4.  Make a Tagxedo Poem - Using a favorite poem or one written personally, students can create a word cloud highlighting its theme.  

How to Get Started:

View the video tutorial below to create your first Tagxedo word cloud in minutes!

Tagxedo is a fantastic resource to help students improve a variety of 21st Century skills.  Click here to get started!

This post originally appeared on The De-tech-tive 4 Teachers.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Unlock the Educational Power of Comics with Bitstrips

Comics have a way of piquing the interest of even the most disengaged student.  In fact, I have had younger siblings of former students request to create a comic of their own!  In most cases, these siblings are referring to Bitstrips for Schools, a Canadian-based comic engine that users can access on-line for free.  The reason most cited by students for using Bitstrips for Schools is its fun, engaging, and user-friendly environment.  In fact, the Bitstrips for Schools template format allows users to create and customize characters, backgrounds, drawings, and so much more.  View the sample comic below to give you a better idea as to the functionality of Bitstrips for Schools.  

The Bitstrips for Schools feature not evident in the example above is the private virtual classrooms students are able to work in.  Educators will definitely value the safe and secure on-line environment Bitstrips architects have created mainly because teachers control all student permission settings.  Another very useful feature teachers will appreciate is the dashboard homepage which immediately shows the latest student activity.  By including these two features, teachers can monitor student progress in a few mouse clicks.    

A New De-tech-tive 4 Teachers Feature Segment!                                                     Teach-nology

Incorporating technology into classroom activities is a great way for students to learn 21st Century skills.  However, with any form of teaching, it should be based on sound educational practice.  Teach-nology is just that - the pedagogical rationale for the use of technology.  The De-tech-tive 4 Teachers goal for the 'Teach-nology' segment is to not describe every learning outcome, but to outline the key 21st Century skill(s) students will be exposed to by using a specific technology.



- Use written communication to inform, instruct, motivate and persuade.
- To extend & confirm meaning of a visual text.

- Write effective imaginative texts to explore ideas & information.
- Experiment with various writing styles & syntax.

- Utilize a variety of strategies to generate, develop, and organize ideas such as considering one's audience, gathering & summarizing ideas, etc.

Sample Activities:

Another valuable Bitstrips for Schools feature is its 'Activities' section.  In it, educators will find a wide selection of prepared activities organized by subject and topic.  Below is a sampling of some of the great lesson ideas offered:  

1.  My Report Card - Students create a comic to reflect on their academic progress in a subject area.  Analysis should include what they have done well and what they should improve upon.

2.  Two Sides to Every Story - To demonstrate their working knowledge of point of view, students create a comic describing a situation about how two or more people can interpret the same circumstances differently.  

3.  People We Depend On! - Students create a comic strip describing what may happen if the people they depend on were not so dependable.

4.  Une Activite Dehours! - Using proper French language writing skills, students create a comic describing their favorite outdoor activities.

5.  Your Province - To demonstrate their knowledge about a particular Canadian province, students create a comic interviewing the province's premier. 

How to Get Started:

Bitstrips for Schools has developed a very detailed support page for its users.  You can access it using the hyperlink below: 

Bitstrips for Schools Support Page

Bitstrips for Schools is an excellent web-based educational tool students will love to use as it allows users to express themselves in a fun and engaging way.  If you are interested in 'unlocking the educational power of comics', click here to get started right away!

This post originally appeared on The De-tech-tive 4 Teachers.