Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Making Connections using Skype

I sat down a few weeks ago to meet with a couple of teachers to discuss ways to use the iPad in the senior years classroom setting.  After we had discussed a variety of applications for both the iPad and a couple of web 2.0 tools, the discussion turned to connecting to classrooms in other countries.  The classroom teachers I had met with have been working on sustainable development goals, fundraising for distant communities in need and making cross cultural-connections with those communities through letter writing.  Part of what they were interested in doing was using the iPad to make video contact with individuals living in the communities with which they had already made connections.
I stumbled across this blog post about Mystery Skype-ing that reminded me of this conversation.  Apparently, a whole host of classrooms in the United States are using Skype, a free video conferencing web and iPad application, to connect with each other.  There are wikispaces that you can visit and sign up to make connections with other classrooms. You set a date and time, keeping in mind time zones, and call each other using Skype.  The particular blog post I read laid out some 'how to' guidelines for new teachers and suggested that each student be assigned a role in the digital conversation to provide opportunities for class-wide participation.  If you are interested in participating in a Mystery Skype with your classroom, it might be worthwhile to check out this blog post and follow the links to sign up.  If you've tried something like this with your classroom- share by commenting on this post.  It would be great to hear from an ISD rep. who has been through this experience with their students!

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Tar Heel Readers

If you are struggling to find appropriate reading materials for students who are struggling with reading, searching a site called Tar Heel Readers may be the key to engaging these students.  This site was created collaboratively with over 25, 000 readers with pictures and text that is read-aloud to the viewer.  Search and find a variety of materials appropriate for students unable to access the texts outlined in the senior years curriculum.  See
For a quick and easy guide to using the Tar Heel Readers website, please see Caroline Musselwhite's guide here.  She has some amazing Tips of the Month and this one happened to be featured last April.

Apps for the Upper Grades

In my journey as TILT this year, I've worked with plenty of early years teachers to show some iPad apps and online tools that can be used with students in the classroom. I've worked with just a few teachers at the senior years level and thought it would be worthwhile to build up a list of resources that students and teachers at the high school level could use in the classroom.

I'm going to start off with a bang.  I wish that this application had been available when I'd gone through high school and university.  APA and MLA referencing could have been the death of me.
There is an app for that- EasyBib. This app can be downloaded onto a smartphone and used to automatically create APA, MLA, and Chicago style citations for a works cited page or reference list.  You simply download the app, scan a ISBN barcode, found on the back of the book, select the type of reference list you are creating and ~voila~ you have your reference created. is a cloud-based web tool that can be used to generate charts and infographics based on data a student, or you as a teacher, has entered.

TED talks is a great website for pulling together speeches delivered by various experts and prominent figures from organizations throughout the world.  The talks, recorded live, are delivered on subject such as human rights, environmentalism, social trends, economics... the list goes on.

iBrainstorm is a collaborative brainstorming software that can connect to multiple devices and present material on a projector instantaneously.

Teaching or learning about the solar system? The Solar walk app is an amazing 3D journey through our solar system, including information about all the planets.  Information is represented in written articles and movies about topics including solar eclipses, the earth cycles, and zodiacal constellations.

Historypin is a great iPhone app (compatible with iPads) that contains maps and pictures about areas of historical interest.  Information is posted to the Historypin website.  In perusing this app, I discovered that it is a collaborative source of historical pictures and information.  Places in the Interlake such as Argyle and Teulon had contributors add information to the app- considering the vast historical collections in Stonewall, it would be a great project for a local heritage committee to submit information and pictures to this online resource.

TimeLine Eons is another iPad app in the field of history.  It lists important events on a historical timeline with photos to illustrate the time period.  It allows you to search a time period for particular events as early as the big bang all the way up to the projected future of our universe.

Mindmeister is another great visual mapping tool that allows the student to create a mind map and attach notes to subtopics.  Here is a great mind map that I found with regards to the very subject I'm blogging about.  You can see it here.

Here are just a few great tools that I hope you can use in your classroom!