Sunday, February 7, 2016

Photo Manipulation

I spent some time this weekend remembering why I loved digital media; if you can imagine it, you can create it.  This is where I left Google apps behind I dove headfirst into Adobe Photoshop.  Our students are preparing to put on the musical, "Into the Woods" and this is the first version of a poster I am creating.


Sunday, January 17, 2016

Vector Graphics with Google Drawings

In the suite of Google Apps, I think that Drawings is under appreciated and under used.  Most people don't know some of the amazing things you can do with drawings.  Here is a quick list of some of the ways I used Google Drawings:


  1. to make thumbnails for my videos (great for branding and avoiding that awkward 'open mouth moment' at the midpoint of the tutorial
  2. classroom posters (Canva is great for this too but Google Drawings comes with all the sharing goodness of the other apps, commenting, file history and on and on
  3. for commenting and labelling pictures from my phone or the web (think of students in the science class who take pictures of various steps in their lab
  4. or for creating vector art like this avatar of myself
  5. (notice the honest crow's feet)
The magic begins at page set-up where you can choose 'custom' and then between inches, centimeters, points or pixels.  If I am making a YouTube thumbnail, I select 720 x 1280 pixels, use the rule of thirds, primary colours and basic shapes for an attractive image.

Google drawings are free so you won't be spending money on  monthly subscriptions (like Adobe CC).  Of course there are only the basic features (compared to Illustrator) but with some imagination, and online help from graphic artists  (Joshua Pomeroy), even newbie aspiring artists can do some great work.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Google Innovator Academy

If it were not for my friend and colleague who nominated me for the Google Innovator Academy, I would never have applied.  But I did.  I studied, ruminated about how to do this and finally hit the send button on the application.  Woohoo!


I have learned a lot during this process, and acceptance to the Academy or not, I am on the winning end to be sure.  I spent an insane amount of time getting this all ready, but I learned every step of the way.  The most important lesson is that I can do more than I think I can.  We all can.  It's good to push yourself and see how far you can go.

So, here's my 'Vision Deck' and my 'Moonshot' video.   Google asks you to frame a problem in education and propose a solution (tech included).  This is mine.  Next blog post, I will elaborate on them but for today, I simply wanted to share.  Thanks for reading/watching/listening.




Saturday, January 9, 2016

Google Certification

Over the Christmas holidays, I decided to take the plunge and study for the "Google Certified Educator" exams.  The study time was relaxed and I allowed myself the occasional YouTube indulgence, but always on topic.  I spent time learning (or actually relearning) formulas and functions in Google sheets (love the 'import range' function).  Although I live and work in Google products every day, I still had so much more to learn.

The exam itself is not as intimidating as its preparation.  The process is simple enough; register, pay $25 US and wait for the certification folks to send you an invite.  The exam tests your knowledge and proficiency of the different products.  You can't fake this one.  If you don't 'know your stuff', you won't have enough time to complete the exam.

So I wrote, I fretted (just a bit) and I PASSED as the badge clearly shows.  Now I am eligible to apply for the Google Certified Innovator Academy happening this February in Mountain View California.

Onwards and upwards...





Saturday, August 23, 2014

Teaching in Colour

I have a colleague who often says, "Eat in colour".  She's passionate about healthy lifestyle choices, vegetarianism, promoting ecological activism and so much more.  Last year, in her Environmental Biology class, she inspired her students to make small gestures to bring small change that yields HUGE results.  Some became vegetarian, some lost weight but all understood the impact of their habits and choices.

Inspiration by Example

At the lunch table yesterday, I leaned over to inspect her plate; a salad with rice, beans, kale, peppers and seaweed. (We were at an iPad workshop and of course, she brought her own lunch!)  Today, as I prepared my own version of her salad (minus the seaweed - ugh), I found myself thinking about the power of example and the tremendous opportunity that teachers have to effect change.

Your Words Matter

"Eating in colour"
We might think they are not listening but they are.   As parents we know this to be true.  Our children become adults and one day we hear them speaking and sounding like us.  Our students graduate and then tell us how much our encouragement mattered.  Your words are powerful, especially when they ring with the truth of lived experience, passion and compassion for your students.

Your Actions Inspire

What we do everyday, our actions and behaviour towards students and colleagues matters even more than our words.  As teachers, we know this to be true and have experienced the deep satisfaction that comes with discovering the impact we had on a student's life trajectory.  My colleague, who eats in colour, also lives her life's passion authentically.  Students see that, and while not everyone will be changed by her words or actions, they will all learn about integrity, passion and personal responsibility.   To be a teacher is to have the opportunity to make a difference to students and to eat and live in colour.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Take Your Students on an Oceanic Odyssey

Mylène Paquette
Have you heard of this amazing young Canadian, Mylène Paquette?  She is crossing the Atlantic Ocean in a rowboat - by herself!  She left from Halifax on July 6 and will row 2,700 nautical miles (or 5,000 kilometers) to Lorient, France where she expects to arrive approximately 100 days after her departure.   Why is she doing this?  Listen to this video (in French) and at 3:13 she tells us that it is important for everyone to realize that anything is possible and we can live differently on the planet.


Rowing across the Atlantic, Solo from Canada to France from Mylene Paquette on Vimeo.

Ms. Paquette uses social media to communicate in real time her experience of this trans-Atlantic crossing.  She is eager to reach out to the public and raise awareness about the ocean's ecosystems.  Find her on Twitter, read her tweets and enjoy the pictures, listen to her phone calls (from the sat phone) in both of Canada's official languages and read her blog posts.  Your students will love to follow her progress on the map and her ground team supporting the communications is ready to connect your class to Ms. Paquette in real time!


Send the students to her FAQ page to read about how she eats, sleeps and manages to row 12 hours every day.  She uses her iPad to tweet, to take pictures and send out distress calls if the need arises.  Ms. Paquette takes pictures and tweets them out, asking her followers to help identify what she sees.



This is a fabulous opportunity for students to learn some BIG lessons about courage, challenging ourselves, about effort, about using science and technology to accomplish our goals, both big and small and all of that in both languages.  Listen to the video below to see the technology she uses to communicate with the world while she rows towards France.  She really is a remarkable person and our students should know about her adventure.



Sunday, August 18, 2013

Curation: A Skill for the 21st Century

If information is the currency of a democracy (Thomas Jefferson's words), then curators are important agents in that democracy.   In an age when information is ubiquitous and students, turn to Google as a delphic oracle, it seems to me that teaching curation skills is an essential part of learning about digital literacy.  Students need to learn good search skills but what is the value of the discovery if they are unable to evaluate the credibility of what they have found?  Curation skills presumes search capabilities.

Curation and sharing are quickly becoming the default mode for this century.  If 'content is king', then curation must the the throne on which the king sits.