Tag Archives: sd36

A Tasty Treat!

This project is the brainchild of one Ms. Rachel Rogers @rachelrutabaga, an innovative Home Ec student teacher at Elgin Park Secondary.

Rachel asked me for some help with the technology on this very cool project. I’m sure most people have seen the Tasty or Tip Heroes videos around. I often find them floating by in my Facebook feed – short videos of recipes in fast motion. My part in this project was to introduce/instruct the students on the technology they could use to create their videos. I introduced them to some special features in Movie Maker and iMovie, features that would allow them to increase the playback speed of their video footage – before they finalized and exported their projects.

Below you will find Rachel’s lesson, and a bulletin board she put up promoting their work. She also uploaded their projects to her blog. This was a great project for small group work in the foods lab, and best of all it allowed the students to share their learning with the world!

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If you haven’t see one of these snappy little foods videos yet, check them out at:
























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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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The Magic of a Memoir: a stations approach

Memoir isn’t the summary of a life; it’s a window into a life, very much like a photograph in its selective composition. It may look like a casual and even random calling up of bygone events. It’s not; it’s a deliberate construction.

~William Zinsser

These activities were designed for Ms. Pederson’s Writing 12 class, and we decided to arrange the activities as 5 stations. Her class came to the Learning Commons for a week to complete all of the activities, our goal was to better prepare them for an upcoming assignment where they would be asked to write their own short memoir. Classroom discussions around the difference between autobiographies, biographies, and memoirs, took place before we started these activities.

First, we started by explaining the first three activities, and then the students had the first two classes to work through the stations in any order.

The first three activities were:

Station 1: Writing Territories: learning more about me

Station 2: Pg 1 The Smell and Sound of Words – article written by Alexandra Fuller, and Pg 2 deconstruct and writing activity

Station 3: My World in Black and White: a photo memoir

Debrief stations 1-3:

After everyone had a chance to finish, we discussed what new things we learned about ourselves, and what things were the hardest to write about. A few students read out their writing activity from station 2, and some of the students shared their photo memoirs (those who were comfortable sharing).

Next, we introduced activities four and five. Again, the students could work through these two stations in any order.

Station 4: Mystery Memoirs

Station 5: The way I see it… 

Debrief stations 4-5:

After everyone had a chance to finish, we debriefed the results of the mystery memoir activity. We revealed the books hidden in the brown bags, I book talked a few of the titles and read a short senopsous of other titles. Some of the students also shared their photo memoirs (those students who were comfortable sharing). Some of the memoirs we used for our activities are on this list, but there are many great memoirs to choose from. The only activity that we would revamp next-time would be the Smell and Sound of Words; it was far too easy for the students so we would find a more sophisticated passage. Overall, the students had fun with the activities, and some discovered memoirs they wanted to read. How do you teach students to embrace the Memoir? I would love to hear your ideas!

 “Each of us is a book waiting to be written, and that book, if written, results in a person explained.”

~Thomas M. Cirignano

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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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Selfies: contemporary self-portraits #me

So ask yourself, “Does your online identity paint a complete portrait of who you are?”

The “selfie” has become such a global phenomena that it has universally connected us through the language of self-expression : #selfie, #me, #closeup, #myselfandi. Just spend some time on Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, or Twitter, and you will quickly find a world of people willing to share a piece of themselves through their smart phones. There is a sense of control when we take a selfie, you can control how you will look in a picture before it is put out there for the world to see. However, the reality is, we can never control how people really see us.



This was an incredible project designed by Gary Smith, one of our art teachers at Johnston Heights. Gary was assisted by the very talented Donna Sheh, who is working with Vancouver Biennale BIG IDEAS. The project started when Gary brought his Gr 9 art class to the Learning Commons. I loaded the photo-bucket app onto our iPads, and then assisted students with editing and uploading their photos to a Dropbox file we made for their class. The rest of the project was completed in the Art room over the next few weeks, and the student had some interesting class discussions around the questions on their reflection sheets. The following pictures show how it came together for a final gallery display at the Bell Centre – Vancouver Biennale BIG IDEAS Education Program partnership  with @Surrey_Schools on Wednesday, May 21 (7 – 8:30 PM).

The entire project from photos, to forms, to covers, to installation – was a big undertaking, but well worth it. Our students were excited to see their work come together in one large exhibit of contemporary sculpture. It is a dynamic visual representation of our youths’ culture and their involvement with social media. Such AWESOME work, Mr. Smith, and all the students in your class – you ROCK!! For more information go to: http://www.vancouverbiennale.com/event/embracing-uniqueness-a-surrey-school-district-performance-event/

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To eRead or not to eRead, that is the question?

This year our PAC bought us 7 Kobo Arcs for the Learning Commons. These beautiful colour tablets were purchased the weekend of Black Friday for $99 – not bad! The leather covers were ordered online from Amazon for $8 each, and the plastic pouches were ordered from a dollar store for under $5 each.  With the Follett and Overdrive apps installed, the students can easily download books from our database or from the Surrey Public Library. An app lock was also installed so student would not download other unwanted apps onto the device, and a permission form must be signed and on file before a loan takes place.  Now our students now have the opportunity to try an eReader and many of them are excited, yet others have the preconceived notion that they won’t like using one.

There are many arguments around the pros and cons of using eReaders, but the bottom line is this: give the students the opportunity to try one and let them make up their own mind! It’s all about choice; it’s all about personal preference.

Love them or hate them an eReader can offer us:

  • Selection – ereaders provide a library on the go with a great selection of e-books, and some have special features like built in dictionaries to decipher hard words
  • Convenience – they are extremely portable and lightweight – easy to carry, hold, or pack
  • Affordability – e-books are cost effective and it’s often cheaper to purchase ePubs than hard copies, and access to free e-book downloads are available from school libraries, public libraries, and apps

As a teacher, I love having more copies of the Classics available when the senior students are doing their big unit. As a traveler, I will never travel with a hard copy again. With that said, I do like to hold a real book in my hand while sitting at home on a lazy afternoon. So how do you feel about eReaders? Do you Love them, hate them, or are you on the fence? I’d love to hear!

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For the health of it: collaborating with our feeder school

“Hold your head up high and be proud! Remember we can smell fear, and there is nothing to fear because everyone is friendly at JH! I envy your youth because you are just going to be starting high school – it’s an exciting time for you! It’s the end for me, and I will miss it.” ~ Idris, JHSS Student


Those were some parting words of wisdom from a senior student for our visiting gr 7 class. It was such fun to spend time with the students from Berkshire Park Elementary. Plus, collaborating with the teacher-librarian (Kirstin Lintott @mrsbookblabber), and the grade 7 teacher (Janet Bates), was a pleasure for both our Superfit teacher, Tracey Riddoch and me.  We had the students work on parallel assignments, our hope was that the grade 12 Superfit class could help the gr 7s meet some learning outcomes for their Healthy Living assignment. But what really came out of this collaboration much more valuable than any lesson we could have dreamed up!

For the actual lesson, our grade 12s started by sharing some things they wish they had known about health & fitness when they were in gr 7. They emphasized going to bed at a decent time and getting sleep, “sleep is important and I never got enough when I was your age”, I heard a few of them say. They talked about packing a good lunch, and how much better they would feel eating healthy. They also told them not to waste money on non-nutritious fast food (our school is surrounded by fast food chains which can be a big temptation at lunch break). The gr 12s showed them how to use apps like MyFitnessPal – it houses a large food database for calorie counting, provides nutritional information on the foods consumed, and allows students to document their daily progress. The grade 12s also shared websites like bodybuilding.com  – great for a variety of health and fitness information like nutritional facts, recipes, and workouts to help make a healthy living plan. The grade 12s concluded the visit by taking each group on a short tour of our school. They made sure to focus on the gym, weight room, and our foods wing (where they will learn more about nutritious eating habits).

But the real value in this collaboration was in a message we had not predicted; that our school was going to be a fun/safe place to attend in September, and nope… they didn’t need to worry! On their way out the door I heard students say “that was fun”, and  “I’m not afraid to come to anymore”. Spending time with those “really big” kids showed the gr 7s that senior students may be big, but they are just kids: funny, silly, friendly, nice, and helpful kids.

Below you will find the grade 7 assignment as well as the Superfit pre-assignment and parallel assignment. We will probably do this again next-year with some changes/improvements, but overall it was a great experience for young and “old”. So… how do you collaborate with your feeder schools? I’d love to hear about it!

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