Monday, November 28, 2011

Preparing my students for the future

Today, while I was finishing my reports cards, doing final calculations to figure out my students final marks, writing their comments and giving them feedback. I couldn’t help but notice that the marks I gave my students were all quite high. Usually, my average marks are around a B. This year, I am teaching grade 9 for the first time and my approach, especially teaching in an IB school, (Académie de la Capitale) is quite different.

First of all, I don't accept a mark lower than 80% this year (this idea I got from my online course that I am taking). When I mark a student’s assignment, I give them feedback and ask them additional questions for them to answer and in doing so, they will better achieve the learning outcomes while coming back to me with a higher quality assignment.

One of the courses that I teach this year is also an online course. Therefore my students are constantly emailing me for clarification and to ask questions. Their success rate is higher because they are completing an assignment to its fullest. I even have students that submit their assignment to receive feedback before I mark their assignment, thus allowing me to guide them in the right direction to achieve the outcomes. In an IB school, there is also the flexibility in learning methodology and so if I see a student who doesn’t get something, then I will create another task or change the activity to allow them the highest success rate.

I was sharing these present observations with my fiancé, who is starting out in a law firm, and we came to the conclusion that this approach is often used to train people in the real world. For example, in work, he will have to draft a legal document and then share it with his supervisor. She will provide him feedback and then he will go and make the necessary changes before returning with the best possible product.

As a teacher, our lessons can be peer reviewed, but often, experience is our guide: good old trial and error. We may try and teach a lesson one day and it doesn't go as planned, but do we give up and end it there? No, we go home, evaluate what worked, what didn't work  and make the necessary changes before going back the next day to start again.

My point here is that by allowing our students the opportunity to try until they succeed and by providing them with the tools to do so, we are better preparing them for their future. In a rapidly changing world, they must have the courage to try once, receive feedback and then give more effort until they reach their goal

And that is why I love teaching IB! The structure of an IB approach creates the setting to prepare our students to be hands-on learners, to find the courage to succeed, to ask for clarification, to give feedback and to work collaboratively just like in the work force. This approach favors the classroom without walls approach that I have become very interested in integrating into my own teaching. Break down those walls!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Virtual Stamps!

It is report card time!

As I am sitting here marking my student's assignments (on paper, which is more and more rare), I began thinking of how I give feedback to students using stickers and stamps. From here, the idea of a virtual stamp came to mind.

Most of my marking this year is done online using Google Docs. When I do mark students work done on paper, I always stamp or put a sticker on their work. I realized that I have yet to do such a thing when I mark my students work that is done online.

So, I quickly put together some images (using Google Drawing) to put on my students' work.

Check them out:

I especially love the idea that I can make my own in French!

        Happy Marking!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Creating your FREE website!

Ever thought about creating your own class website? Have an innovative project you would like your students to share online? What about creating student e-portfolios?

Check out these 6 FREE Website builders, complete with templates and how-to videos and guidelines.

#1 Snap Pages
#2 Weebly
#3 Web
#4 Webnode
#5 Yola
#6 Wix (Flash)

Let your creativity inspire you!

Sunday, November 13, 2011


Wow, what an amazing FREE world wide conference available to all, during the International Education Week, November 14th - 18th!

Check out the schedule and chose your time zone.

Looking forward to a great week of global learning!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Where I want to be in one less click!


So maybe I might be a little behind the times, but I just discovered Google Apps!

I have heard of their Apps before and after a quick glance, I became aware that I was already using some of them. However, last night was the real discovery : life is much easier with Google Apps!

Basically, I chose all the Apps that correspond to my daily online usage and determined how using the app brings me to where I want to be in less time!

Screen Shot of Google Apps!
In addition to my daily usage apps, I found some really neat apps to use with my students:

Diigo Web
Type Scout
Evernote Web
Typing Test - Key Hero
QR Code Creator
Google Docs
For Language schools there is Google Translate
For teachers, the Webpage Screenshot app is awesome!
And many more...

Another great thing is that we already use Google Chrome as our Internet browser at school ( I would highly recommend you install Google Chrome on your school computers, especially if you also work with Google Docs). By adding educative apps to the Chrome home page, it makes it that much easier to share app links with our students. In addition, each app has its own image. Therefore, it is much  easier to guide our younger students to where we want them to go.

Happy Apping!

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Mind Maps

As a visual learner, I see the great importance in using mind mapping tools with my students when planning a project, when doing revision for a test and even when they need to write everything down that is in their head.

Before using mind maps with my students, I noticed that many times their ideas in their writing were disconnected, they would often go off topic or they would get stuck because they didn't know what to write about next.

With mind maps, students can link their ideas, insert images and even insert videos (depending on the tool they use). They can use colors and they can make their plan come alive. Students also tend to spend a lot more time on their "plan" when using mind mapping tool. Then, when it comes to writing, they are very prepared and feel more confident throughout the writing process.

Here is a link to 100 reasons to use mind maps :

Mind Map Ideas

Another great thing about mind maps, is it good for all ages! 

Here is a list of 5 FREE Mind Mapping tools available online: - Brainstorming made simple - Collaborative mind mapping in your browser - The leading online mind mapping tool (MindMeister goes mobile: iPhone. iPad. Android.) - Mind mapping made easy - Visual thinking evolution

Here is a great tutorial on how to use these 5 mind mapping tools:

Happy mapping!

Saturday, November 05, 2011

The magic of Twitter

This post is dedicated to all teachers who are not yet on Twitter or who are currently building their PLN (Personal Learning Network),

While studying my B.Ed, I remember my teachers always saying 'Do not re-invent the wheel'. When I started teaching, to avoid re-inventing the wheel, I would search online for what I was looking for. Unfortunately, I found that sometimes it could take a long time to find exactly what I was looking for (or I didn't find anything and ended up having to create something from scratch). This can become frustrating, if it happens often, since our time is so precious.

Over the years, as I have gained more experience teaching and I have learned that the Internet does have a lot of great resources but so do other teachers. So my conclusion is this, to avoid re-inventing the wheel we don't just rely on Internet searches, but we create and establish our PLN that should include (at least this is what I believe) connections made on Twitter. I strongly believe this because I have found this tool one of the quickest ways in finding an answer or resource.

Here is an image to help display how Twitter works for Educators:
For example, you are looking for a Free Online Tool similar to Microsoft Publisher.

You can either ask your question (using Hashtags to target a certain group),  or direct your question to a few people in your PLN. You can even do both at the same time to increase your audience, however remember you only have 140 characters, so use them wisely.  After you have Twitted, you wait :) Hopefully you will have a response fairly quickly. If you don't get a response, follow up with those you contacted and you can even re-post your Tweet by re-wording it.  The magic of Twitter comes into play when people start to Re-Tweet your question and you get a fairly prompt response!

I have to admit, this may not happen overnight, but the more your become familiar with Twitter and the more your build you PL, the more the magic will happen.

For more tips on learning how to use Twitter as an educator, check out :

For a list of chats to get involved in on Twitter visit:

Let the magic begin!

PS. To learn more about creating your PLN visit:

Friday, November 04, 2011

Learning with Technology

What a few busy weeks of learning ahead of me!

1) This week I started my level 2 MYP Technology training online, where in addition to getting to know the program, I am meeting lots of great new IB technology teacher to collaborate with.

2) I am only a few weeks away from completing my Teaching and Learning with Technology course, in addition to 2 other courses, and am already very excited to see what January has in store for me.

3) Today I attended an amazing workshop : Friends For Life,, where I couldn't avoid sharing my two sense in using technology to help our students communicate with their peers, teachers and parents.

4) I plan to complete Google's certification to become a Google certified educator, over the holidays!!! So excited!!!

I just love learning, working with and exploring new technologies!

My quote for today:
"The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you."
- B.B. King

Have a great weekend everyone!

Opps...Almost forgot about report cards and parent teacher interviews coming up!

Wednesday, November 02, 2011


My lessons just haven't been the same since I found out about this great computer screen recording tool, Screencast-o-matic:

This tool is really easy to use!

You can save or upload your video into YouTube, you can embed your video into your webpage, blog or wiki and share with your students and other teachers.

Check out some of the PowerPoint presentations my students created and shared with their classmates, using screencast-o-matic.

Not only can your student record their presentations, but teachers can record their lessons for student to refer back to them later on!

Ever have students constantly asking questions about how to do something on the computers? By providing your students with a step by step video, they can watch it as many times as they need to in order to understand what they need to do!

Any online teachers out there??? What a great tool for students to use to be able to share their projects with peers in their virtual classroom.

Ready, set, record!

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Tools for using YouTube safely in class!

For me, YouTube has become one of the first places I look to get a great "hook" to catch my students attention at the beginning of a new unit (and throughout). When I'm in the drivers seat, I can control what my students see.  However,  more and more my students are driving and this year I am offering an online course to my students,  therefore, I have been paying a lot more attention to the content on YouTube. Whether it be the comments at the bottom of the video, the video's that are available in the sidebar, the video's that show up after the video chosen is done, etc,  I am much more conscious of the video links I share with my students....until now!!!

After attending another fabulous Webinar organized by SimpleK12 (,  I was introduced to some amazing tools that let you chop and purify those great videos!

1)  TubeChop allows you to easily chop a section from any YouTube video and share it. (You can also embed your chopped video into your website, wiki, blog, etc.)

2) Safe Viewing
  • Safeshare: - Generate a link without the comments and related videos. (Ability to share the video via Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
  • QuietTube - This provides you with a button to put on your toolbar. When you open YouTube or other video sites, click on the button, and your video will be displayed without any ads, comments, etc.
Now I can share video's with my students without having to worry if something inappropriate or offensive will show up while they are viewing the video's links I have shared with them.

Did you also know that YouTube has a section for educators?

As well, for all the history teachers out there, this is really neat: YouTubeTimeMachine - - Where you can get videos from any year. Your students might really enjoy searching and watching video's of a certain time period!

For other additional resources visit: which also includes a list of YouTube alternatives.


My Favorite Ted Talk