What You Need Now (WYNN)

In my first year teaching I worked with a small class of grade 9 students, who were grouped together in hopes that having one teacher for the majority of their classes would ease their transition to high school. Some of them had documented learning difficulties, while others were identified by classroom teachers. Regardless, all of the students needed adaptations at some level.

To ease with a novel study it was suggested that I use WYNN (Products & Services: WYNN™Literacy Software Solution), an assistive reading technology.  Here is a video tutorial of the software.

WYNN allows users to hear and see content being read aloud to them. The content is either uploaded, inputted or typed in the program. Students are able to customize their colours, fonts, sizes and voices. It could be used for entire class with a projector or students could use with individual devices. It sounded like a great way for use to achieve our novel study. Unfortunately, it was more difficult to get started than it was to use it.

Here are some of the difficulties I encountered:

  • Devices: we did not have a class set of devices, nor was this program on every single computer in our building so I had to book the specific lab for us to use. This also did not allow students to access the program from home.
  • Licensing: the program was apparently licensed for our elementary student use, not high school. So I had to complete a special form for each student, which needed to be approved at our board office.
  • Forms: the forms were designed for students with an official Record of Adaptations. Not every one of my students had one so I had to be ‘creative’ on some of them.
  • Texts: not every novel is loaded on the program, and I myself was not able to load our particular novel. So that needed to be done by our system library division before we could start.
  • Usage: I was not an expert, so I was learning how to use the program alongside my students, while attempting to complete our novel study.

In the end I am not sure if it was worth the hassle, even now. By the time we actually we able to use it students were distracted by the features and the fact that we were not in our regular classroom. I am glad that I attempted it. If anything I learned a lot about processes and how things work/ flow systematically in schools. It would have been more beneficial if students had greater access either at home, or more consistently at school.

My questions:

  • Have you ever used WYNN, or another similar reading software with students?
  • When have you experienced that the process and planning for the teacher was more work and time consuming than the actual learning/ activity for the students?

Thanks for reading! 




Microsoft Forms

One of my long time favourite assessment tools is Microsoft Forms. Below is a link to a sample for I created for students to submit their prospective business ideas. There are 19 various types of questions that students must answer. As soon as an answer has been submitted I can view the responses in a spreadsheet. This allows students to easily submit their work, it also allows me to organize and print their responses so their colleagues can see and analyze them as well.


Here is a comprehensive video if you are interested or curious about using Microsoft Forms. In my experience they are very similar to Google Forms, as far as format and structure.

I chose Microsoft Forms for this student response assessment as it allows them to easily and fully submit all of the information I require for our initial business idea evaluation. I don’t find this tool very challenging to use, although I do feel like there is a lot of back and forth. Every time I go to make a change or view a response it opens a new tab. That gets a bit confusing, but I have never had a major issue. In my experience students enjoy this as it has all of the required components of the assessment, so nothing is overlooked for their part.

Pros: easy to set-up & use, by making the questions required you ensure students responses and once saved you always have access to past ones you created.

Cons: responses are displayed in Microsoft Excel format, so if you are not familar with that you could have an issue. Like I said previously, it opens a new tab every time a change is made so that gets a bit confusing.

Although I have used it mostly for formative assessment, it could really be used for either. There is even an option to create a  Quiz as opposed to a Form.  This response details that although they have the same capabilities with a Quiz you can: provide scores, answers, and add in equations in addition to providing feedback. Therefore, it could easily be used for formative or summative assessment. Below is an image of the question options used for both the Form and Quiz.


My questions:

  • Have you ever used a Form (Microsoft or Google)? If so, for what purpose?
  • Do you see any concerns with having a summative assessment being accessible online?

Thanks for reading! 


Web 1.0, 2.0 & 3.0

The video below explains how our information is “becoming an extension of ourselves”, and the web is evolving. Web 3.0 is allowing us to be connected everywhere, with everything. It highlights many of the benefits (connectivity, promotion and ease), along with some of the pitfalls (security) of Web 3.0.

“The web influences people’s way of thinking, doing and being, and people influence the development and content of the web.  The evolution of the web from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 and now to Web 3.0 can be used as a metaphor of how education should also be evolving, as a movement from Education 1.0 toward that of Education 3.0.  The Web, Internet, Social Media, and the evolving, emerging technologies have created a perfect storm or convergence of resources, tools, open and free information access.” (Jackie Gerstein) 

 Gerstein’s metaphor is a good comparison of how learners these days need to be active in their own learning.

  • Web 1.0 learning could described as input for output teacher centered.
  • Web 2.0 learning could be described as more student geared where learners are provided the learning objectives, but given some choice as how they achieve the objectives. They would also be encouraged to serve as student-teachers for their peers.
  • Web 3.0 is similar to Web 2.0 where students are given choice and expected to contribute something outside themselves to their learning, but Web 3.0 requires learners to be more critical and work more independently among many sources and online platforms. It will also require students to work more consciously as far as they’re online actions and dealings and the future impacts those will have.

My initial thought about Web 3.0 learners (teens specifically) is that they are NEVER offline, they always have their device nearby and they don’t really know a world without social media. This becomes problematic as they need to regulate their own usage, and focus on whatever it is that requires their attention at the moment. This is advantageous as they are able to access and share information anywhere, at anytime. The main impact on education I feel these days is the focus. I believe we are beyond taking cells away for punishment and need to encourage/ model/ teach appropriate device usage.


My questions:

  1. What are some skills you consider crucial to teaching our Web 3.0 learners?
  2. What are some social skills/ activities that you believe have been lost or perhaps increased because of our ease of connectivity? Every year I tell my students how important school photos were to us. Since we would write notes on the back and hand them out to our friends.
  3. Are you a web 1.0 2.0 or 3.0 generation? I am 1.0 and remember when we started using internet near the end of high school.

Thanks for reading!

Online Learning

For my own educational experiences as a student I have attended: face 2 face, blended and solely online courses. I have used Moodle and UR Courses, which I have sometimes heard described as the ‘scroll of death’. I have enjoyed all, but have found some a blur in the way that I am not sure how much actual learning took place as the courses were more of a checklist to be completed.

Image via Giphy

As far as our current classes meeting using Zoom – I LOVE THEM! We are able to attend class and connect without the hassle of having to drive to the university. It also makes planning easier for those who have full-time jobs and/ or children. If you are unfamiliar with Zoom here is a quick introductory video. 

If I was teaching an online class I would use Zoom so that there was a required a consistent meeting time. I believe this provides a greater connection for the students and allows for some more traditional instruction such as instructor’s lecturing, group presentations and discussions. Compared to fully online reading content this is more engaging and meaningful. It provides a good balance to keep online learners connected, while providing a consistent content delivery method.

The article Ten Ways to Overcome Barriers to Student Engagement Online provides some simple easy ways to engage online learners. A few that stuck out to me were: making contact before the first class, sending reminders to keep students on task and encourage sharing. All teachers require some effort to ensure students are engaged, but online courses have special considerations since the human face to face element is missing.

If my courses were to shift to online or distance learning I would require students to connect online at a certain time, as well as connect one on one via Skype or another video chat method. This would be crucial to maintain continual contact and check-ins with students. While many high school students are now taking online courses, and I believe it is a valuable experience some students would struggle with focus and keeping on task and up to date. I would struggle with ensuring the students are understanding and following along.

Here are my questions:

  • Which is your preferred method of learning?
  • What is a great example of online learning you have experienced?
  • What is a non-great example of online learning you have experienced?

Thanks for reading!


Do One Thing

This week for our eci833 class we were instructed to watch the following video.

The gentleman in the video describes how he was working on a paper, that resulted in him joining a ‘save the sloths’ cause. It resonated with me, as while I was watching/ listening to the video I was formatting this post and half listening to see if my children were still awake. So although, I wasn’t off in a web dive like he was, I was not fully focused on one thing.

While there are many valuable resources online for professional and personal use, I find there is a lot of junk to sort through. Even something as simple as online price shopping for computer mice recently became an annoying task, or perhaps I need to search smarter when searching for something specific. I know that more than once I have sat down for a five minute social media break, and wasted 20-25 minutes.

I did find the quote in the video regarding email interesting “When workers don’t check email, they focus for longer on tasks and show less physiologic signs of stress”. I feel that I am pretty good at reading and responding to email in a timely fashion. However, just the week at the end of a class period someone asked me if I had seen an email that they had sent at the beginning of that class period. I did see it, but was teaching and helping students. It was a general informative email that did not require a response. They were simply reiterating what the email said. Regardless, I was a little taken aback as it had been less than an hour since it was sent.  Although, they were coming from a helpful place, and just happened to be walking by my room I still felt that maybe I was a bit behind. It would be a nice experiment for me to close my email and only check it when I am not teaching and have time to actual read and respond to any emails right then and there. I wonder if I would be more focused and less stressed.  Gif via Giphy


More than anything the phrase “do one thing” reminds me how over-connected we can be sometimes. Even things as useful and practical as schedule syncing with my spouse can become stressful, as we are trying to manage everything from a bunch of different places, all at once. Plus, I rarely attempt to commit items to memory as it is all electronic. Personally, I have been trying to get small things off of my to-do list, at school and home. Basically, if it takes 5 minutes I try to do it now. It’s definitely a work in progress, as am I.

Here are my questions:

  • Are the schedule-sycner in your household?
  • Does searching incognito really matter, especially since google knows all? We recently booked flight tickets, and my husband insisted we only search this way.
  • How do you manage emails?

Thanks for reading!



Tech Tools


My new FAVOURITE tech tool is the snipping tool! If you have the option I highly suggest you find this tool on your device, and pin it on your task bar. I use it daily, multiple times. I am not even sure how I lived without it before. Sure I know Ctrl + c and print screen, but this is amazing. It has saved so much time with creating lessons, and worksheets.

Screencastify is another tool/ program that I enjoy. So far I have only used it for my eci courses, but my goal this year is to use it two times for my classes. My plan to record a lesson, either a difficult one or a review and post the video on my class website. This way students could access it and refer back to it when need be. If you have never tried a screen recorder program I suggest you do so this semester. Screencastify is extremely user friendly, and there is a free version available. Here is one I made last for eci832.


Another of my favourite Google Extensions is Google Photos. If you are like my you typically only get a new phone when the old one breaks or dies. And like me you may possibly have a lot of photos on that phone that are gone with it. To solve this problem I synced my phone to Google Photos, so that all of my photos are automatically uploaded to my Google account. It even has an assistant feature that makes collages of my photos and creates albums. So although this one does not connect to my classroom and teaching, personally I find it very valuable. 


As far as privacy I do not get too hung up on privacy concerns when it comes to Google, hence my use of Google Photos. I do sometimes get taken aback at how easily accessible my information on Google is. For example even on my blog here I clicked to add images and hit Google and there were all of my recent photos I had taken from my phone. Not ones that were specifically uploaded, but all of them. Screen shots and even images I had tweeted. That was a little freaky to me. However, I do love Google and would probably use any tool made by them that would enhance my life, I figure they already have all of my information there is no stopping now.

My questions:

  • What are some valuable Google Extensions that you use, personally or professionally?
  • Do the majority of people who use Apple products favour Google?
  • What are some Google extensions my preschooler or toddler could use?

Thanks for reading!

Learning Theories in Practice

While discussing learning theories in our class this week, I felt I really had to dust off the theory side of my teacher brain. Even after our discussions, I could not pinpoint ways to describe how I put theory into practice daily. I found the info graphic below extremely helpful! Gif via Giphy

Learning To

I would like to think that I apply all of the theories at some level in my classroom, everyday.  Here are some examples I can think of from this week.

Behaviorism: In my ELA 9 class we had a lesson on document structure, tips and saving in Microsoft Word. Students then used the sample document to create their assignment. It was not higher level and did not require independent thought, but I believe we covered some general useful skills that will help them presently and in the future.

Cognitvism: Again in ELA, students created letters to survivors following our Survivor & Conquering unit. This allowed them to take the knowledge we covered throughout the unit and create their own independent work. Some students wrote letters to famous people, or fictional characters while others wrote to family members.

Constructivism: As far as constructivism students in Entrepreneurship 30 were required to create mini trial businesses and sell a product over a three day period. This required students to take what they have learned in class, create their own business and sell their product. As simple as selling candy and cookies at lunch students really learn a lot about how a business works.

Image via eLearning Infographics


Along with learning theories Alec displayed the following 9 Events of Instruction from Gagne, 1965. Although, it was created in 1965 and the classroom, world and learner has changed I use many of these in my daily practice.  Some traditional teaching methods stand the test of time, as Alec said, “these are solid”.

My questions:

  • Is it unrealistic for me to believe that I actually use all learning theories in my classroom?
  • Are some subject areas geared more towards some learning objectives over others?
  • Do you know what SWBAT stands for? That may take many of you back to your undergrad lesson planning…

Thanks for reading!


My Understanding of Ed Tech

If I had to summarize my understanding of educational technology, I would have to say that ed tech is both the teaching and learning with technology. Ed tech has allowed us better methods of displaying content and demonstrations through: overheads, digital projectors, smart boards, and mimios among many others. Those were just the ones that I have used in my teaching. Ed tech has also allowed teachers, students and parents better methods of communication through our Home Logic (online grades and assignment manager), class sites, blogs, and even email.

This makes me wonder if students are better learners simply because:

  • Teachers show them how to do the work in a different way.
  • Parents can see their grades and attendance as soon as it is entered.
  • Students can access the assignments and submit their work anytime, anywhere.

Image via Giphy

I would like to think that although these would be considered ‘modern’ examples of ed tech, they are becoming outdated. As educators we need to move beyond simply using technology as a fancy form of teaching, and as a better way to communicate and moving assignments to students utilizing it and become literate with it.  The article Being addicted to technology is not the same as being literate in it describes technological literacy as “literacy that requires an awareness of how the social network operates”. This leads me to my definition of ed tech

Educational technology is…

  • Various methods of teachers demonstrating skills or tasks.
  • Ease of communication, assignments and information outside, both in and out of the classroom.
  • Students learning and be given opportunities to use technology for personal and professional uses.
  • Teachers helping students to critically think and examine what they see and hear online.

Image result for before you post think

Image via Tech Rocks

My questions:

  • How do you teach students to use tech, while teaching them to be responsible with it?
  • What is the oldest piece of tech you have used in your teaching career? What is the newest?
  • Are you scared of using tech, or do you dive in and embrace the chaos that sometimes ensues?

Thanks for reading!