Category Archives: Web Tools

Read Write Think: a great timeline app!

I’m always excited to find an app that works really well – without any hiccups! The free timeline app from Read Write Think was one of those gems!


I worked with Courtney O’Connor and her grade 9 English classes. They had just finished individual novel studies, so I introduced her classes to the timeline app to share their novels. I began by demonstrating how the app worked (adding images, text, saving, and sharing). Next, we had the students outline the narrative elements of their novel, and then work through a paper sketch of the information they planned to put on their timeline. The students were given two classes in the Learning Commons to complete their assignment.

After their timelines were emailed to their teacher, the class returned for a third class to participate in speed booking. This gave them an opportunity to share their novels with each other. We gave them an activity sheet to fill out while participating in the speed booking (this kept them focused and help them track the books that they might be interested in reading next). At the end there was a project rubric you are welcome to use or revamp.

This app worked so well that Courtney used it again with her SS class to do a timeline on the Industrial Revolution.  The Read Write Think timeline app was a fun way to share their books with their teacher and with each other, and it was easy to use! What are your favourite apps for novel study? I would love to hear about them?



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Vlogging a great book!

It has been a while since my last post, primarily because of moving to a new school. It takes time getting to know a new staff and build relationships. But change can be fun and invigorating. So, now I’m enjoying teaching, learning, and sharing with a terrific group of teachers from Elgin Park Secondary. This project was done in collaboration with Ms. Rosemary Rollins – an amazing English teacher at Elgin Park.

Class #1

In her classroom, Rosemary introduced her students to some children’s classics (titles from the Vancouver Sun Classic Children’s Book Collection). She then brought her class into the Learning Commons and we discussed the benefits of reading a classic. The students had made a list of 3 titles they would be interested in reading, they then had time to look through the titles and choose one for their novel study. The students had three weeks to finish reading their book.IMG_4597


A few weeks later, the students returned to the Learning Commons and we had a lesson on Vlogging – what it is, and why it’s become popular. We also looked at examples of some YA Teen Vloggers who have a large following on Youtube and Instagram – they LOVED this!

Next, I introduced them to a free app I installed on our iPads called Knovio. It’s a great tool for uploading images and recording a students voice and  face. It also has a feature where you can type notes so the presenter can have cue cards in view when recording. If a student is uncomfortable recording their face, then he/she can shut off the camera and record voice only to accompany their slides. We spent a few minutes and reviewed some recording tips to help make a more polished presentation, and I showed them how to use an app called Skitch (which allows you to write text on any images, or add an arrow to highlight an area of an image). After our lesson, the students completed a handout as review and started working on their storyboard sketch.IMG_4775


A few days later we invited Ms. Miller’s grade 7 class to join us from Chantrell Creek Elementary. I gave the grade 7’s a short introduction to Vlogging before the 9’s came down, and then I gave them a worksheet they would work through with our grade 9’s.  After the grade 7’s completed their interview, the pairs worked together looking for images to add to the presentation. The grade 9’s had been asked to focus on one particular narrative element for their vlog – so images needed to reflect their focus. IMG_4781


For the 4th class, our grade 9’s came to work in the Learning Commons alone. They worked on completing their final recordings, and then emailed a link to their teacher, teacher-librarian, and grade 7 buddy. Their Vlogs will be evaluated using this rubric and some vlogs will be shared with the class. Vlog Shot

This project was fun and not a big headache in terms of technology. We used Knovio, Skitch (by those who wanted to add effects), and a Gmail app that I installed on our iPads. The Gmail app made it easy for students to sign into their Gmail and copy/paste a project link for sharing. We warned all of the students in advance to have a Gmail.

The students enjoyed working with the Knovio app, and they really enjoyed learning about vlogging and watching the YouTube clips of teen vloggers. Most had never heard of vlogging, and most had never read any of these children’s classics. I think we forget, that even with all the Disney adaptions, these stories are often new for many students – especially our ELL students.

So, how do you promote the classics in your schools? I would love to hear about it.  A classic never goes out of style! 🙂

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Student Video Tutorials to Go!

Technology isn’t easy for everyone, and learning to use new web tools or apps can be difficult if you’re left to struggle on your own. I remember how confused I was back in 2011 when someone tried explaining Google docs to me – just show me and I’ll get it, I thought to myself.  I know I am a visual learner, and I read somewhere that approximately 65 percent of our student population is made up of visual learners. As a teacher, I know that one good visual aid can dramatically increase a student’s learning. That old saying,  “a pictures is worth a thousand words” means everything to we visual types!

So when I started having my Library Science students make video tutorials, it was as much for me as it was for them. All my students learned something new, and we had the short clips to introduce new web tools to  classes in the Learning Commons.

Advantages of student video tutorials include:

  • Peer teaching engages students.
  • Our students are mastering 21-century skills.
  • The Library Science students learn a concept better by having to explain it in a tutorial, and this makes them great teaching assistants when classes come in!
  • Teachers can use our tutorials in their rooms, or they can add them to their websites for students to access from home.
  • Teachers can preview the tutorials before they work with their students.

So… here are a few video tutorials my students have made. Some are better than others, but we learned something from each one. Slowly we are building our own JHSS Video Tutorial Database, and that’s proving to be a very useful resource. Yup, another work in progress – I feel like I say that a lot lately 😀

Click on this image and it will take you to a page on my blog of video tutorials:Screen Shot 2014-01-04 at 6.31.19 PM                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      You can also find us on YouTube: Screen Shot 2014-01-04 at 6.46.21 PM

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