Category Archives: Collaborates Fearlessly

Using a Growth Mindset During Tragedy

This past weekend has been an especially hard one emotionally for me. I am speaking of the Humboldt Bronco’s bus tragedy whereby 15 people were killed as they made their way to a playoff hockey game in Saskatchewan. Both my children are in sports and we often travel to games whether by motorcoach or car. We also indirectly know some of the hockey players and two of them attended schools in the school division that I work in.

Image from Silvia Pecota Studio

This post sheds the use of a growth mindset in the face of tragedy. I find that Jack Canfield succinctly shares ways in which we can deal with disasters. This can easily be used in any environment to help anyone.

How to deal with overwhelming emotions (via Jack Canfield):

  • take a deep brief and that whatever you are experiencing this too shall pass
  • be patient with yourself
  • be patient with others
  • forgive yourself
  • use ETF tapping (video below)
  • practice gratitude


  • to make it easy for myself, I created a Google Keep note and started to type down things that I’m Grateful For… I used Canva to create the .png image. I find I like Google Keep since it is available on my smartphone, on my laptops so that if something pops up, I can quickly add via voice or text the already created note.

Now check out the ETF Tapping Therapy video below:

The ETF tapping therapy looks like something that I could possibly use more in the work that I do to support teachers who support students.




Behind the Music Video: Math

Image result for OK GO band image

OK Go is an American rock band based in Los Angeles, California. The band is composed of Damian Kulash (lead vocals, guitar), Tim Nordwind (bass guitar and vocals), Dan Konopka (drums and percussion) and Andy Ross (guitar, keyboards and vocals), who joined them in 2005, replacing Andy Duncan. The band is known for its often quirky and elaborate one-take music videos. And now that have taken the time to explain how their music videos are created, what kind of things going into making them especially the mathematics behind the scenes.

Further to this, they created the explanations specifically for teachers to use them in their classrooms!

Check their website out at OKGOSandbox. Feel free to share how you have used OK Go’s video clips as either resources or creative ideas for student videos.


Get Techy w/Projects, Edits, Notes, NASA and Prompts

Below are five different ways to engage students in an online environment with any grade level and almost any subject area.

Not sure what kind of projects to start on? Check out this curated list to get some great ideas for your yearly plans.

  • Daily editing builds students’ skills! With Every-Day Edit exercises, challenge students to find and fix errors in spelling, capitalization, punctuation, or grammar.

I like the challenge that this presents to students. Easy and fun yet relevant to literacy skill development.

Who doesn’t like to use a crayon? Note taking is a skill that is developed over time. This is just one way to try it out. If you want to delve further into the phenomenon of Sketchnoting, I suggest to check out Kathy Schrock’s page.

Science teachers rejoice! NASA has always provided some spectacular photos and video and now they are also sharing content and lesson plans. Your Science classes will be astounding.

A variety of writing prompts help students to get started. I also show students, especially from grades 3-12 that they can write in four different ways based on the access to technology in our schools. We have a divisional license for RW4GC and use it extensively. So the four ways are: using a pen/pencil, typing on a keyboard, RW4GC Talk&Type (or GDocs > Tools > Voice Typing) and RW4GC Voice Note. It is amazing what students can “write” about when they are shown the different ways that they can demonstrate their learning through their writing.


Spotlight on Strategy: Make It Concrete

SOS: Make It Concrete is a teaching strategy that uses concrete, or shape, poems to allow students to demonstrate understanding. Students reflect on their learning and create a visual to represent something they have learned from a media resource.

NOTE: the link above is available for any Discovery Ed account users.


Ideas for your own classroom:

If you do not have access, you can have students create a list of keywords/expressions that tie in with a video, audio or an image that you have presented to them. Students may create this list individually or in small groups.

Students then take their keywords and input it into a word cloud curator. There are several available online such as:

  • Using a Google Doc, the keywords are typed or dictated onto the document. Install the Word Cloud Generator add-on and run it. Drag or screenshot the word cloud and insert into the Google Doc. Students may want to either do a Gallery Walk to check each other’s word clouds OR all word clouds could be put onto the same Google Doc or even Google Slide.
  • Tagxedo where word clouds can be put into specific shapes. Students would type their generated list of words right into the Tagxedo text box.
  • Wordle is one of the original word cloud generators and works similar to Tagxedo except with no specific shape choices.
  • Wordclouds, Word It OutABCYa! Word Clouds are all great generators

For fun, these word clouds could be printed off and then students could draw images around their word clouds. As well, they could either create a short video or audio explaining their word cloud. This video/audio would then be linked to the original word cloud via a QR code and hung up on a hallway bulletin board for others to view and scan.

Samples for you to check out:

Social Studies examples

125 Ways to use Wordle in the Classroom

Above all, let students have fun collecting content knowledge and giving it an artistic spin!

Got How? You Also Need to Know Your Why

In May of this year, I wrote about The Elusive Why: Yours and Theirs, and today I continue this stream of thought with looking at the HOW but really to need to KNOW YOUR WHY. Whether this wny is personal or professional there are some important pieces that we need in place in order to find our “calling”, our “passion” or the reason why we get up in the morning every day.

Just taking time throughout the week to look at the upcoming personal/professional activities is important. Yet, having some sort of growth plan will allow for these weekly overviews to connect and make sense with your BIG goals. With this “big picture” plan of personal/professional life in place, we can begin to make incremental changes in our daily habits and routines, and our life will start to change. If you haven’t read Stephen Covey’s, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change, definitely check it out!

As well, watch Michael Jr’s short video clip on this topic. It’s a video definitely worth showing your colleagues, family, friends and even students.

Now it’s my time to work on my annual Teacher Professional Growth Plan. As per my teacher organization (Alberta Teacher’s Association), “developing the plan is a professional function through which teachers demonstrate their commitment to lifelong professional learning while fulfilling their regulatory requirement pertaining to continuing education. The key components of developing the plan found in the policy governing growth plans states a teacher’s annual growth plan shall:

  • Reflect goals and objectives based on an assessment of learning needs by the individual teacher
  • Show a demonstrable relationship to the Teaching Quality Standard
  • Take into consideration the educational plans for the school, school board and Alberta Education”

I hope this inspired some conversation on your part!


Keeping the Thoughts at Bay


Notes, note-taking, messages, information – it’s all important at different times throughout my day and work week. I use all sorts of tools to take notes, but for the short ones, like a quick stand up meeting, a voicemail, phone call or quick “to do” list, I have relied on a physical notebook for the work that I do.

Sure, I use GSuite applications and Notes iOS app on my smartphone and laptops, but my “go to” note taker has been the 9′ x 6′ (23cm x 15cm) notebook that I use each school year. Just like my previous teacher notebooks, when I was in the classroom, this one is in paper form and stays in my office. However, lately I have noticed that I want something more available to me, whenever the need arises. I turned to Google Keep for this.


Being a school division that uses the Google Suite of Applications, it was an easy tool to turn to. I’ve dabbled with it, seen other teachers use it effectively with their students, but I did not quite have a continual and mindful purpose in using it.

Here’s how I’ve started to use Google Keep:

  • in Google Chrome settings > on startup > add Google Keep tab to the “open specific page or set of pages” during start up so it is ready for me to review when I sign in.
  • install Save to Google Keep chrome extension for this items of interest that I’d like to look further into (otherwise I use the Diigo chrome extension for blog posts, larger information for later use (no time limit).
  • use the Google Keep iOS app on my smartphone. I love the audio note feature here as it keeps the audio while also providing a transcript.
  • use the Google Keep iOS app on my smartphone to make a drawing. Whether it’s a quick description or a math problem, I’ll have it saved for later use.
  • within GKeep, create labels. Right now, I’m using monthly labels and color backgrounds. Gives me a quick overview of what’s occurred or occurring in a specific month.
  • within GKeep, you can easily add collaborators or save to a Google Doc. Information doesn’t just have to reside with me, crowd sourcing is easy here.
  • within GKeep, the Remind Me feature is getting a lot of use. Now I don’t have to highlight or sticky note my notebook to ensure things get done. I do use Google Tasks within my Google Calendar so this remind feature is fantastic. The reminder can be set for a date/time or even a location.
  • within GKeep, adding images, making lists, or just typing notes gives me some creative writing choices.
  • within GKeep, you’ll never lose a note. Just search for it! It even uses OCR so you can take a picture of a page with text (textbook, magazine article, etc.)  which will also be searchable.

After a couple of weeks, my digital notetaking is doing well. I do scribe some items in my notebook and transfer them to GKeep. I think that after Christmas Break I will “hide” my print notebook whereby I will need to use GKeep exclusively. We’ll see how that goes!



Your Help Needed to Keep the Oceans Alive!

64ª A.V. EcoFaxina - Manguezal

This is a great social project for students in connecting the global with local. Students are asked to help solve a larger world problem (the oceans are dying) with a close-to-home solution. It’s a great opportunity for students to problem solve, think critically, collaborate, communicate, manage information and be creative in their learning.



11 x 17 Paper copy of Placemat 1 (or 2) with either three or four spaces and a middle section.

Quivervision’s Enjoy Summer and Sea coloring pack – one pack per group

Oral Presentation Rubric from ReadWriteThink – one copy for each student



Alberta Language Arts Grades 2-7

Students will listen, speak, read, write, view and represent to:

  • explore thoughts, ideas, feelings and experiences
  • comprehend and respond personally and critically to oral, print and other media texts
  • manage ideas and information
  • enhance the clarity and artistry of communication
  • respect, support and collaborate with others.


Alberta Social Studies

Grade 2 Canada’s Dynamic Communities

Grade 3 Global Citizenship


Alberta Science

Grade 3 Animal Life Cycles

Grade 4 Waste & Our World

Grade 5 Weather Watch

Grade 7 Interactions and Ecosystems


Common Core

Reading: Literature

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.2.1, 3.1, 4.1, 5.1, 5.2, 6.1, 7.1


Reading: Informational Text

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, 5.1, 5.2, 5.3, 6.1, 6.2, 6.3, 7.1, 7.2, 7.3

Speaking & Listening

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.2.1, 2.2., 2.3, 2.4, 2.5, 2.6, 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4, 3.5, 3.6….7.6


CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.2.1, 2.2, 2.5, 3.1, 3.2, 3.5, 3.7….7.7


Day 1

Guiding Questions

The headline in the local paper and online news blog seems impossible. The oceans of the world are dying. Oceanographers and coastal residents are commenting that we must act right now to stop this. Even though your community does not reside near an ocean or sea, you know that you must help. (10 mins.)


How is your community contributing to this problem?


How can your community change to support ocean life?


What local action do you think would be best?


Note: The teacher can create a “fake news article” using to share this information or post on a Google doc or handout.


Instructional Strategy

  • Have students do some online research in pairs. (Teacher can have a list of sites for students to go to or open-ended search. A collaborative Google document with some specific questions can guide the students searches.) (20 mins.)
  • Divide students into groups of 3-4. Give each group one Placemat where each will record their individual responses and ideas. (5 mins.) Then as a group they will decide what are the main ideas and write those in the middle of the Placemat. (10 mins.) Project on a large screen some questions like – which ocean is closest to our community? What is an ocean? What might you find there? List some problems facing oceans, etc.
  • Each group shares their main ideas and all group posters can be put on a classroom wall. (20 mins.)

Day 2

  • Do some more research. Students will find out what are the problems facing oceans today, how are people contributing to the problem and how are they acting to change this? This could be continued online research and connecting with experts via GHangout/Skype or even email. Make some notes on a collaborative document like a Google Document, on Padlet, or TitanPad. (30 – 45 mins.)

Day 3

  • As a group, students look at their research and decide on an action, that can be taken in their community to help save the oceans. (30 mins.) They can post this to the collaborative document or on a poster, all students will then do a “Gallery Walk” off each group’s work offering any feedback. (30 mins.)

Day 4

  • Students then color the Enjoy Summer and Sea pages in the coloring pack as some of their visuals for the project. They will use an iPad/iPod with the Quiver iOS app to view their augmented pages. (30 mins.)
  • The group will create a poem, commercial, short story or song using their research and augmented Summer and Sea pages. Each member requires a part to orally share during the presentation. (30 – 45 mins.)

Day 5

  • Teacher videos students reading the poem or short story, singing the song or creating the commercial while also showing the augmented pages.  (30 – 45 mins.)



Oral Presentation Rubric from ReadWriteThink – one copy for each student.


Key Vocabulary

Overarching vocabulary found at Depending on the grade level, teachers would adjust the amount of keywords students would be exposed to.



Watch the archived virtual field trip sponsored by Discovery Education – Of the People: Protecting Our Ocean. Participants are taken inside the State Department in Washington, D.C. to learn how international cooperation among nations, as well as everyday actions by students that can save our oceans.


Go to where there are over 150 videos for teachers to make available for students who are studying tides, oceans, etc with also additional lesson plans.


Set up a live Google Hangout with scientists through Their primary goal is to connect classrooms with guest speakers and virtual field trip experiences on science, adventure and conservation from around the world.