Friday, July 31, 2015

Tech Tip of the Day: One Second Everyday App

Image available at

Tech Tip of the Day!
This is a super cool app and one of my favourites. It's called One Second Everyday! And the premise is that you add one photograph/one second of video footage a day, everyday, caption it, and when you're ready, it stitches them all into a movie about your life, or your holiday, or your school year. You can add music too!

Imagine taking one photograph everyday during your school year, then at the end of the school year, having an amazing movie of memories to share with students and families? This app is the perfect tool. I'm planning on travelling from September-December, and I'm going to use this app to feature the best moment of each day of travel, then I'll have a movie of my favourite memories when I get home.

It's available in iOS and Android here:

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Trinbagonian Teachers and Technology

A two-week summer institute focusing on special education also resulted in opportunities for teachers to learn more about the role technology plays in supporting all learners in the inclusive classroom. As a Microsoft Innovative Expert Fellow, I strive to infuse technology into all areas of my teaching practice, but I was not sure of the infrastructure in place, technology available, or interest of the teachers in Trinidad and Tobago. A survey administered in the first few days of the institute provided some exciting results. Using the web-based survey tool, Survey Monkey (available at, T and T teachers indicated strongly that learning about educational technology was a huge need and interest for them.
 With such a strong response, I was delighted to share with teachers the pedagogy supporting technology infusion, how technology enhances developmentally appropriate early childhood education programs, and the vital role technology can play in including and supporting students with special needs in the regular classroom. Additionally, we discussed why learners need to develop important 21st century skills to become employable and responsible citizens who are active in their local and global communities. 

During our two weeks together at the Canadian Teachers’ Federation/T.T.U.T.A  Summer Institute, I introduced a technology tip of the day as well as delivered an assistive technology session. I was excited to see how eager teachers were to absorb as much as they could and scale it to their own classroom practices!Teachers reported that their access to wireless internet and technology tools and devices varies from school to school. This is a common issue in Canadian schools as well. I am extremely fortunate to work in a highly equipped classroom and school with robust wireless internet and access to many devices, but my Canadian colleagues in other schools often do not enjoy the advantages I do.
Above: students in my kindergarten classroom use Skype to connect with another classroom 45 minutes away. They were highly engaged in listening to a story written and illustrated by their friends in the other classroom!

Technology infusion is provincially mandated in Manitoba, but wireless internet and technology spending are at the discretion of local school boards and school administrators. This results in disparity from school to school, limiting teaching and learning opportunities for teachers and students alike. “BYOD” (bring your own device) initiatives are vital to leveling this playing field—the school provides free internet access to teachers and students, and students are allowed to bring their own devices from home to use in the classroom.
*Note that four teachers skipped this question. I infer this means that they have no technology in their classrooms. 

What are some ways that teachers can start integrating technology in their classrooms, even with limited internet access and only one device? Here are a few ideas to get started!
1      Plickers: this interactive response system allows you to gather fantastic formative assessment data. All you need is an Android or iOS device, the free app Plickers, and a set of cards printed from the Plickers web site. It was the WOW of the summer institute in Couva!

Above: Plickers in action at the summer institute! Kimberly Glasgow-Charles scans the class to obtain formative assessment data on their knowledge of assistive technology practices.

          Animoto:  this is a wonderful free tool for easily creating beautiful movies. Animoto is web-based and app-based, and they provide free accounts for educators. A quick and simple way to make a movie using one device? Choose your topic and have students print what they know on a piece of paper. Appoint a photographer who takes a picture of each student holding their sign. Upload and arrange the photographs in Animoto, add some catchy music and video effects, and you’ll have a beautiful movie for your students to enjoy. What a great way to share and reinforce learning!

        Microsoft Educator Network: create your free account today and access free tools, professional learning, and tutorials!  Auto Collage is available as a free download, and it is a simple, effective way to create a beautiful image collage on a topic. Allow students to use their own devices (or share one in the classroom) to take photographs. They can email or text the images to you to create a class collage, or each student can create their own collage. My students used Auto Collage to make posters promoting practices that help the earth for Earth Day! I’ve also used this tool to make Christmas cards and Mother’s Day and Father’s Day presents. Free and easy!

Tech Tip of the Day: Downloading Videos

Inspiring Quotation of the Day (available at

Tech Tip of the Day: Downloading YouTube Videos

If you don't have internet in your classroom or it is unreliable, nothing ruins a lesson more quickly than being unable to show the video you planned on! Downloading videos from YouTube and saving them to your flash drive allows you to show videos anywhere without internet. There's many different ways to do it, but here is what I have found works best for me.

Disclaimer: Copyright laws MUST be observed in your country. Downloading videos from YouTube may be in violation of your country's copyright laws. Modelling ethical and responsible use of technology for our students is so important!

1) Install Mozilla Firefox internet browser. This is not my favourite browser but it works really well for this purpose.  Available here:

2) Install the Video Download helper add on to Mozilla Firefox. Available here:

3) Using Mozilla Firefox, go to YouTube (or any other video site) and play the video you want to download. The video download helper is located in the upper right corner of Mozilla Firefox. When it finds a video to download, the icon begins to spin. It's red, blue, and yellow balls. Tap the tiny triangle arrow underneath the icon and it will give you a list of download options. I generally select the medium size MP4 option.

4) It will ask you where you'd like to save it. If you want it on your flash drive, make sure it is plugged in to your computer and select it. If you don't select anything, it will go to a folder on your computer called "dwhelper".

5) And there you have it. Your movie will be downloaded and you can play it without internet.

Tech Tip of the Day: Audio Tracks from YouTube Videos

And here's your tech tip of the day! Have you ever watched a video on YouTube and wished that you could just download the music out of the video as an audio file? Here's how to do it.
Disclaimer: Copyright laws in your country MUST be observed. Please ensure that the audio file you wish to download is copyright-free or you have permission from the artist. Modelling ethical and responsible use for our students is so important!

1. Play the video in YouTube. Copy the url out of the address window at the top of your browser.

2. Visit this site:

3. Paste the link into the window on the site. Click convert, then download. In a moment, the song will be in your downloads folder as an mp3 file. The downloads folder is located under documents usually in your start up menu. 

4. You can now listen to the song and use it in movies. 

Tech Tip of the Day: Blurring Faces in Photographs

Today's tip is a simple one. Sometimes we take pictures of people (or groups of people) and want to share them through social media or the internet. However, there might be a student in your classroom or a person in your life who does not want their image shared that way. This app is the solution. It's called Touch Blur and available here:

A similar app is available for Android:

All you do is install the app on your device, open it, then select the picture you need to blur from the camera roll. You use your finger to blur the face, and you can select how blurry you want it to be. Then you save the picture to your camera roll and then you can use or share it!

This app is very simple to use and essential to maintaining student privacy!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Tech Tip of the Day: Creating Word Clouds

I'm just home from an amazing month in Trinidad and Tobago, and I spent the last two weeks working with teachers at a summer institute on special education. My co-teacher, Kimberly Glasgow-Charles, and I presented on early childhood topics for two weeks, but I supplemented those presentations with a daily inspiring quotation and tech tip. This proved to be a popular feature so I've decided to continue it now that I'm home. I've been emailing my inspiring quotations and tech tips to my Trinbagonian teachers but decided why not publish them as posts too!

Image available here.

And now it's time for your tech tip of the day!

Word clouds take a variety of words or phrases and arrange them into beautiful visuals, using different sizes of text as well as different fonts, colours, and shapes. A very simple web-based tool for making word clouds is Wordle, available at
1. Click on "create your own".

2. Enter a a word or phrase on each line. Press enter after each word or phrase. 

3. If you want a word or phrase to be larger than the rest, type it in more times. For example, if you are making a word cloud about Canada and you want winter to be the largest word, type it in ten times. If you want beaver to stand out, type it in five times. If you want snow to be a small word, only enter it once. 

4. If you enter a phrase and want spaces between the words, use this symbol  ~  between each word in the phrase. If you wanted the phrase "We stand on guard for thee" in your Wordle with spaces, you'd enter it like this: We~stand~on~guard~for~thee. That symbol is usually located in the upper left corner of your keyboard and you need to press shift. 

5. When you have all the words or phrases entered, click submit. You can then play around and check out how your words and phrases look in a variety of different word clouds. 

6. The easiest way to save your Wordle is to do a screen shot. Search for the "snipping tool" in your start menu, click on it, then draw a box around your word cloud. Then you can save it as a jpeg. 

7. Visit the FAQ section on the Wordle website for more information. 

8. Another worthwhile site to check out that does more elaborate word clouds is Tagxedo

9. How could you use word clouds in the classroom? 
-you could create one to activate students' prior knowledge of a topic...display it and make them guess what they will be studying
-students could create one as a form of pre-assessment for you, to activate their prior knowledge, or as a summative assessment demonstrating their understanding of a topic
-students could enter their spelling words into Wordle ("enter your most challenging word 20 times and your easiest word 5 times") to make a word cloud of their spelling words each week. Great practice and a nice bulletin board display too!