Category Archives: Learning Experiences and Assessments

Innovation in Tech with Student-centered Learning

Here’s a brief overview of a ‘spark/ignite’ session that I did this morning with all of our High School teachers at one of our sites.

  • There are opportunities for staff to further explore creativity and the design process – read Innovator’s Mindset and Launch as they are two solid books with practical strategies that teachers can employ the very next day. (If you want to listen to George, Katie, John and AJ speak on this topic check out #IMMOOC Season 2 – Episode 1 video that was streamed just 5 days ago.) I had my ignite groups listen to 8:45 – 10:30 and then at the end of my session to 58:00+.

LTPF Policy Direction 1

Students use technology, online learning and digital learning media to access, share, and create knowledge.

  • With so many websites, apps, extensions out there sometimes teachers can be overwhelmed, check out for vetted resources.

Students use technology, online learning and digital learning media to demonstrate the competencies.

  • Have you ever been to an Escape Room? What if you could bring that into your classroom and have students dig into the curriculum in a different way by problem solving, thinking critically, collaborating and communicating in authentic and engaging ways. Check out for basic information and to see an existing list of immersive games that you can play. (Password – showyourwork.)

Students use technology, online learning and digital learning media to demonstrate what they know and are able to do, through effectively using a range of resources and media.

  • All of our students have access to Read&Write for Google Chrome – for use in GDocs, .pdfs and websites. Many ways they can provide teachers with information.
  • GSuite of core services – GClassroom keeps getting better and better, students enjoy access to online materials whenever and wherever they are.

Students use technology, online learning and digital learning media to monitor their learning progress and inform decisions through the use of data and evidence-based reasoning.

  • There are many formative assessment tools, check out some of them below:





An Adventurous List – Would You be Game?

Skiing phenom Jérémie Heitz challenges himself to ski 15 of the Alps’ steepest 4,000-meter peaks in just two ski seasons.

Skiing phenom Jérémie Heitz challenges himself to ski 15 of the Alps’ steepest 4,000-meter peaks in just two ski seasons.

I make lists, most people I know make lists. Some are quick, some are longer. Sometimes they are checklists, other times they are steps to finalize a project. However, I came across a most adventurous list of an amazingly interesting person this week. His list is so ‘out there’ in terms of something people have not yet accomplished and his strength and passion for what he is doing was so compelling that I needed to write this blog.

I have added some ideas and questions that can be used in both English/French classrooms (the video is in French with English subtitles and some English).


La Liste TEASER 1 from TimeLine Missions on Vimeo.

Pretty fantastic!

I see this video being shown in middle years Language Arts and high school CALM classes as points of discussion. Overall the video is 47:22 in length, however, the questions that I created to accompany it may push the time to 90 minutes due to students composing and/or sharing their thoughts individually, in small groups and as a whole.


QUESTIONS with timestamp (stop at the time and review the question)

Feel free to copy these questions into a collaborative document like a Google Document. Students could work individually or in groups to answer them and even use Read&Write for Google Chrome to assist in responses.

5:49 – Do you think Jérémie will ski all 15? Explain your answer.

8:17 – Who is Jérémie? What characteristics/traits were mentioned? Are there others that you would add to the list? Do you have any of these traits?

11:00 – Planning. What must Jérémie think about? (Factors – physical, environmental, technical, financial…)

14:29 – What is a high-risk activity that you have tried or would like to? Why?

20:30 – What kind of training is needed for steep skiing? Is it the same as downhill or cross-country skiing?

25:20 – Jérémie was excited to ski the same mountain peak as Sylvain 50 years later. Are there any other sports/activities ‘records’ that were similarly accomplished and/or broken that you can share? Is there a particular ‘record’ that you would like to accomplish/break in your lifetime? Describe and tell why.

29:25 – Hiking and sleeping on the mountain requires planning. What items, resources, and safety considerations must be needed? Share your inferences not just the facts.

32:00 – DO you think Jérémie will go back up this mountain and try again? Y/N. Would you?

36:20 – Conditions in mountain ranges can be extreme. Would you have the patience to wait like Jérémie? What does it mean when his friend says that Jérémie “has the strength to say no”?

41:21 – Jérémie was able to ‘redo’ a steep ski. How do you feel when you are able to redo a school project, assignment, or activity?

45:29 – Did Jérémie achieve his goal?

Overall, can you plot out on Google maps all 15 of the mountains Jérémie wanted to ski as well as their descriptions? Would you be able to suggest 2-3 other mountains in the world for Jérémie to tackle? Establish a criteria for a perfect steep skiing mountain.

What did you think of the camera and video production? Where there enough closeups, pan shots, etc? Would you change the video production in any way? How and why? Using a green screen, could you create an ‘adventurous’ steep skiing short video of one minute or less using some different video techniques?


Whatever you do with this video in engaging your students, it certainly will be something they will never forget watching in class! And if you want to continue to see some other adventurous videos, check out (pre-screen videos before showing to students).

Feel free to comment on your experiences with this activity!


Outrageous Learning with Ozobots


Ozobot is a tiny robot, measuring 1 inch in height and diameter, which comes with a photo sensor array for recognition of patterns, lights, colors, and codes, an automatic detection functionality for physical and. digital playing surfaces, and color sensing technology. Ozobot is a powerful tiny robot that expands STEM and computer science learning through a collection of game based activities and digital apps.






Creative Construction with MakeDo


Makedo is a simple to use, open-ended system of tools for creative cardboard construction. Using the saw, screwdriver, and screws, students of all ages can build imaginative and useful creations from everyday cardboard. Makedo facilitates an interdisciplinary, hands on learning experience which engenders a deeper understanding of concepts with application to real-life scenarios. What’s more, Makedo is accessible for all types of students and their differing learning needs, Makedo teaches students to value the learning process as much as the results and Makedo develops collaboration skills.




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.



Design Thinking into Biohacking?

I just recently read Brian Aspinall’s (@mraspinall) blog post on Coding: Developing Rigorous Thinkers where he discusses the reason why students should learn to code – to think, problem solve, take risks, modify their work through trial and error, etc. All the competencies (specifics from Alberta Education) we want them to engage and grow as learner and it reminded me of an amazing TED Talk from Andrew Pelling where he “grows” human ears from other objects that you would never suspect.

He also recently founded pHacktory which is an independent research lab founded on extreme play, curiosity, undertaking audacious projects, taking risks and learning from failure.

I wonder how we could take Andrew’s zest for engaging in dramatic and disruptive learning and put it into our learning environments?




PeriscopePD – Get it in 15 mins!


I love learning! YES, love it! With the upsurgence of Social Media over the last five years, I can grab learning opportunities almost 24/7 if I wanted to! From specific subscription-based organizations like Discovery Education to WebEx webinars to Google Hangouts to day-long to week-long conferences to Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook, teachers in 2016 can engage in learning just about anything to heighten and fill up their toolkits full of effective and engaging instructional practices. One of the neat parts about using Social Media for your professional learning, is that you really don’t do it alone. There’s always someone from somewhere that you’ve never met that will enhance the collaborative learning environment.

Periscope is one such online tool that I’ve used throughout the last school year to not only share snippets of what is going on in our school division but to also have scheduled online PD available. Another school year is upon us and I’ve returned to sharing some quick info via Periscope (almost) every second Wednesday at 3:45pm MT. Just install the Periscope app on your device, follow me (by either finding my Twitter name as @nlakusta or full name of Nicole Lakusta) and add some calendar dates to remind yourself to join in on the fun!

Dates and Topics (so far)

  • Sept 7 Chrome Apps for Early Years
  • Sept 21 Chrome Apps for Middle Years
  • October 5 Chrome Extensions for Early Years
  • October 19 Chrome Extensions for Middle Years
  • November 16 RW4GC Reading Tools
  • November 30 RW4GC Writing Tools