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!



Behind Every Great Venue are….

Today, when we think of Rogers Place in Edmonton we see this:

and think of this:

Oilers salute fans at first NHL game in Rogers Place

Oilers salute fans at first NHL game in Rogers Place


Yet, my visit this morning was about this:

A behind the sceneslook of the video production, tech equipment, server room, 1250 screens and Media Centre in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

  • The state-of-the-art video production facility was designed and installed by Matrix Video, simultaneously with the Digital Signage/IPTV system.
  • The central equipment room consists of 18 full-height racks including Sony HD cameras, Fujinon lenses, Imagine Communications routing, Ross switching and CG, Christie’s Pandora’s Box for the extraordinary on-ice projection and a Blackcam specially designed track-camera that is under-mounted on the huge centre-hung scoreboard. The camera is on an 11-metre track and is capable of traveling up to 4 metres per second!
  • There are six (6!) Ross Xpression systems to drive the Arena’s remarkable LED system. That includes the multiple exterior boards, the spectacular screen in Ford Hall, both LED ribbons and the centre-hung scoreboard.
  • Matrix had staff from every one of their offices assisting in installing the over 1250 screens located in Rogers Place! No subcontractors here.
  • The main and upper concourses have over 200 screens that are in a 1×3 videowall configuration that allows for two separate advertising opportunities and for the game in progress to be seen at all times. This unique model required significant configuration to ensure that synchronization happens seamlessly over the network throughout the entire arena.
  • The Media Centre in the Hockey Hall of Fame is home to two 4×4 videowalls that were calibrated to produce the most colour-calibrated perfect image for television.

So you can see how “geeky” and giddy I was to walk through a building of this magnitude and really get an idea for how all of the signage works, what it can do, how it can be configured, and so on. As a season ticket holder of both the Oilers and Oil Kings, I was familiar with the facility, now, with this behind the scenes tour, I can appreciate how the “fan’ experience is enhanced with all of this technology. I also take away some ideas as to how I can share this within the school division that I work in. What kind of experiences with digital signage should we be looking into for our current schools as well as School 2 in Spruce Grove? What kinds of skills and competencies should we be developing in our staff and students? Also important is the working relationship and open communication between your IT department and other departments and school sites. I liaise closely with IT so they can understand the educational point of view, but I also get to hear and see the amazing work to ensure that our staff and students have access to resources and global/local opportunities to connect with each other electronically.

Rogers Place - TVs under scoreboard for Coaches

Rogers Place – TVs under scoreboard for Coaches

Ice School classroom

Ice School classroom

Interview platform and digital screen background

Interview platform and digital screen background

A sincere thanks to Matrix Video Communications and Rogers Place for the tour. It was unforgettable.



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.




Lotsa Learning with LittleBits


A toolbox for invention-based learning that is easy to teach and fun to use. Students engage with invention-based learning by moving through the littleBits Invention Cycle: a student- and teacher-friendly framework for approaching the engineering design process that is woven throughout our challenges and companion lessons.




Ways We (all) DO

LEGO®, this four letter word conjures up a lot of great memories for me from my childhood. I was always excited around Christmas time as there would be a large package from Germany coming to our home. My father is originally from Northern Germany and all of his brothers still lived there. So, my brother and I would receive some tasty treats (yummy chocolate and Marzipan) but where we spent the most hours in sheer delight were the LEGO® packages that we would get. At the time, these little bricks were not available at any Canadian store. However, today, these bricks are a global sensation and continue to capture all our interest. The ability to take these building blocks and add more features such as motors and sensors has taken them from a great past-time and hobby right into the classroom with computer science, literacy, numeracy and several competencies such as problem solving and critical thinking.

The LEGO® Group History


Students will be able to build LEGO® models featuring working motors and sensors; program their models; and explore a series of cross curricular, theme-based activities while developing their skills in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics as well as language, literacy, and social studies.