Creating an Inventive Learning Environment

Invent to Learn ETCATA

I just returned from an amazing two days of interactions, learning, connecting and collaborating with a few 100 of my colleagues, ETCATA Executive, Sylvia Martinez and Gary Stager. It was an amazing experience from the start with Sylvia and Gary (Invent to Learn authors) facilitating and introducing us to a variety of theory, history, practical strategies and hands-on learning.

Invent to Learn obligation

Invent to Learn – Making, Tinkering and Engineering in the Classroom is a three-year old book based on how to use (low to high) technology to make, repair or customize the things we need to use in our daily life. The benefit is that students love creating and talking and teachers will love how easily this fits into current curriculum. The ETCATA Specialist Council brought Sylvia and Gary up to Edmonton for April 4-5 and then on to Calgary for April 7-8. This opportunity provides any ETCATA members to connect with each other, learn from engaging speakers and continue their professional learning.

Invent to Learn

With so much being shared, I created a Storify for the 2 day event HERE. And if you have the physical copy of Invent to Learn, make sure you pair it up with their website!



5×5 Learning: ChromED Responses

Asking questions, polling, surveys, they are all viable and used within the classroom, but how can teachers easily and effectively create these? One specific tool is the Google Form, or GForm. Found within the GAFE environment. It is really a quick way to create and continue a conversation with your students, parents, and community.


Some basics:

GForms for PD, Administrators, Teachers, Students

5 Ways to Use GForms


If you are already using GForms but want to take it up a notch, check out Using GForms and Add-ons within GClassroom shared by Synergyse.

And with some recent updates to GForms, see some other ideas in 9 classroom uses.


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5×5 Learning: Go Fish! Awesome Visual Storytelling

Students and teachers love visuals, they love pictures, so why not combine story creation with some random photos? What fun!


Teachers can easily model this via Five Card Flickr or even print off visuals and have small groups of students choose 5 of them. Or use another source like 2Learn Image Gallery, Discovery Education images, images within LearnAlberta.


So how do you play?

With Five Card Flickr, students are “dealt” five random photos for each draw. Their task is them to select each one to build a set of images, that grouped together, tell a story in pictures. Once this is complete, add a title and brief explanation. If you are online in Five Card Flickr, save the story there!


If you are in the GAFE environment, why not send a group of students to a specific site to grab 5 photos and insert them into a Google Document? Or have them use the Research Tool which also adds the citation from the photos selected. From there you can keep the images in a certain order, title it and type up a brief explanation (I usually say to have one sentence per image). Students can either type, Voice Type or use RW4GC VoiceNote to provide the title and explanation.


Using Adobe Voice iOS app or YouTube Capture app, students can even make a video. See an example below:


Classroom Uses

  • introduce a new topic
  • finalize what has been learned
  • random photos to work on literacy skills
  • a different way to connect with Current Events
  • collaborative storytelling that can then be combined to create class storybooks
  • have each students choose one photo (make sure they are all different), create a sentence and then have them group together as five individuals to see how they could fit their current image and sentence into a story.

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5×5 Learning: No Patridge in this Pear Deck

One of my favorite tools is Pear Deck because it allows a teacher to use any PowerPoint, Google Presentation, or PDF and incorporate different student activities to check for understanding and engagement. Pear Deck is free for students and teachers (freemium) and it fully integrates with Google Apps for Education, especially connecting directly with Google Classroom.


You can sign in/create your Pear Deck account with your GAFE account. Start to create a new interactive lesson by selecting “New Deck” and then create a slideshow from scratch or import a PowerPoint, Google Presentation, or PDF. You can easily go through and edit the slides by adding free response (text), free response (number), and multiple choice questions within the slide.


Introduction to Pear Deck

Check out how you can use it with GClassroom

And Student Takeaways are a phenomenal way to have “notes” stay with them in their GDrive


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5×5 Learning: Give a Hoot w/Kahoot!

This is day two of this week’s 5×5 learning. Another online formative assessment tool that I really like to use in K-12 classrooms is the infectious online tool, Kahoot.

Below Megan shares how to create your own Kahoot questions, however you can also take a look at the thousands of Kahoot Quizzes already created and edit from those ones. It’s quite an exciting assessment tool, very competitive. Each student or a small group of students will need access to a WiFi-connected device in order to participate.

Teachers go to in order to get started. And students will go to (this will be shown on your quiz while students are signing in). I remind staff and students to use their first name when joining the quiz (no need for any silly names or I will delete them from playing).



If you really liked Kahoot, there are other tools that I have spoken about at Effective Classroom Instruction Using Tech: Providing Feedback and Teaching w/Powerful Online Tools


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5×5 Learning: What’s Your Answer?

This week I’ll be showcasing various online formative assessment tools that can be used in the classroom. 5×5 refers to the 5 minutes of time you’ll need to read and check out the tool for each of the following 5 days. Have fun, try them out, share with students and colleagues.

Sometimes you just want to ask a quick question to your students. It’s very easy with Answer Garden. Teachers just need to create a question or input a topic on the website and then students respond via any online device.

Watch the video tutorial below to see how easy it is:



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Learning with CASS and AbEd

I had the opportunity this week to attend a conference with my Senior Executive team. It’s not often that I have an opportunity like this to sit at the same table with them, although I do get to see and touch base them individually within the school division. It was nice to sit and listen to their thoughts during the keynotes. I was also busy during this conference by hosting two sessions:

Leading into the Future with Learning Commons

The Canadian Standards of Practice for Effective School Library Learning Commons allow schools and school divisions to support a continuum of growth through various activities and learning opportunities. This session will share the work that Parkland School Division has taken on over the past two years as well as showcasing the ERLC Learning Commons Demo sites.


Leadership in the LTPF: Cultivation, Capacity and Convergence (with participant notes)

Parkland School Division administrators who are members of the Alberta Education LTPF Community of Practice will share their journey of LTPF implementation at each of their sites (K-12, French, Christian, Alternate, Rural, Urban). The session will have participants reflect and share their own assumptions, inputs, activities, outputs and outcomes that they may already be thinking about and connect it with the strategies and successes that PSD has seen during this CoP work.

Feel free to check out some of the participant tweets, resources and images that were shared at



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