Wednesday, December 18, 2013


Presentations are an excellent way for students to share their learning with their peers. Good presentations, and good presenters, have the ability to engage their audience in the learning. Further, presentations ideally are the "start of a conversation", with more learning to occur.

The presentation embedded below is about Canada but has the unique feature that the viewer can navigate through it based on what interests them.  Each of the Provinces and Territories are links to other slides in the presentation.
Essentially, it is a 'stand-alone' presentation that is not linear in nature but goes where the viewer decides.  This creative use of links lets the audience "do" a presentation rather than "get" a presentation. 

When students facilitate a presentation in this way to their classmates, they may reconsider their role. Student presenters can now stand in the middle of the room and let other students choose where there want to go or what they wan to learn about first. Presentations in this format are excellent in a digital environment, where students can navigate through at their own pace and differentiate their own learning

Two more examples are provided below. 
* They are incomplete in terms of content, but the idea of a self-contained, self-navigated presentation is clear.

Please contact Joe Sisco ( for further information

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Using iPads in Grade 10 Science Dissections

In Sue Di Laudo's grade 10 enriched science class at Cardinal Carter CSS, frog dissection was done using a slightly different mode than usual. Let's back up a bit. The math and science departments acquired a full class set of iPads, cart, projector Macbook Pro and a pile of PD through the TLLP grant and currently have one grade 9 enriched math, one grade 9 enriched science class and the above mentioned grade 10 class using these iPads every day.

When it came to dissect the frogs a slightly different approach was taken. Instead of the students doing the dissection, filling out a worksheet and having the teacher come around and interview their group about what they knew, they documented their dissections via video recording (uploaded to YouTube) and completed an online worksheet complete with images they took and links to videos they shot.

By all accounts the activity was "a huge success". Students "engaged more fully as they used video to document their understanding of the body systems and they paid greater attention to detail in their investigation of the various organs as they prepared them for photographs."

Click here to see a sample
If you have ever taught a science class when a dissection was happening you know that much of your time was spent moving from group to group assessing whether they knew what all the parts were. By doing things this way "this format also freed me from the time-consuming task of assessing the quality of their dissections and testing their knowledge of body systems during the lab itself and allowed me greater time to interact with the students and aid in the learning and discovery process."

Even the assessment was easier since the "Google Doc was much more efficient than the paper approach used in previous years and also allowed students to further develop oral communication skills."

There were glitches along the way as with any new endeavour. For example, not having YouTube Capture on the iPads slowed the process of getting each video uploaded to YouTube. With that App, uploads are super fast and easy to do. Regardless, one of the nice features of the lab was that students had to make a reflection on how they felt about doing the lab this way. Its always good to hear how students feel about what we do in our classes.

In the end, even though you don't need iPad's per se (ie any recording device will do), this was a really nice way to integrate the tablet technology with our students' Google Apps for Education accounts.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Free Desmos Online Graphing Calculator

So I don't know what is with me. How has it taken me this long to blog about the Desmos Online Graphing calculator? I have been using this for a while now and I keep using the word slick to describe it because I think that best describes it. Its not very complicated and it allows you to create graphs from functions (in both explicit and implicit forms),  use sliders, plot moveable points, construct tables and more. Check our more "How To" videos on their YouTube channel.
Check out my quick tutorial here:
As I mentioned in the video, one of the neat things that the Desmos people have done is to create some interactive tutorials. In these you actually work right in the graphing calculator and get prompts to show you exactly what to do. Right now there are only two, one for creating tables and one for creating sliders but hopefully they will create more.

Keep up the good work Desmos, the math-o-sphere loves you.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


Mr. Spurdza's Grade 7 Class at St. Pius X Catholic Elementary School uses Google Apps for Education and the Provincial Virtual Learning Environment, or vLE, to learn and communicate, anywhere, anytime. Mr. Murphy, the Computers in Education teacher, is also part of this great learning environment. One of the fun things they did as a class was to create a collage of their names using a Google Drawing

This "live" drawing allowed each student to add their name to the wall, complete with their own colours and font! This drawing started with one name and evolved into this cool image. 

One of the great features of Google Apps for Education, or MyTools2Go, is the ability to "publish" files,  to the web.  Any file that is "published to the web" is "live"!

So, think of the possibilities:

  • student presentations (slideshows) can be posted, and every time the student updates the presentation, it is updated on the website, or vLE
  • teachers can create and post live "LEARNING GOALS" documents, that are updated as they build
  • classes can create and collaborate on mindmaps and timelines that can grow as they read a novel, introduce a new concept, or review a lesson
  • teachers can create a Google presentation of class photos, post the presentation, and every time they add a photo, it is updated live for students and parents to view anytime, anywhere
This is a great use of Google Presentations in Ms. Côté-Montminy's Aboriginal Voices class
at Holy Names School. This "live" presentation is updated every time any member
of the group of students adds/modifies a slide.
    Mr. Murphy (Sparty) is a fan of a certain Michigan-based football team. Can you tell which one?
    This is also a Google Drawing posted live on the vLE

Sunday, November 3, 2013

If you build it, they will come

I recently received this message from a teacher in our school system, the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board:


My students are using their Google Apps for Education accounts and sharing documents with me. I'd like to take it to the next step and create a class group where I can post documents for easy access... an online classroom space.

Please send me some ideas and/or suggestions.

As the e-Learning Contact, my role is to coordinate and lead the use of the Provincial Virtual Learning Environment, or vLE. This type of message is so refreshing to receive because it shows the need that teachers have for an "online classroom space". It is a natural progression as teachers and students use more cloud-based computing models. 

Now, this teacher has the ability to make class announcements, post course content, and receive & assess student work anytime, anywhere... in a safe, secure, and private environmentThe vLE allows teachers to use multimedia (video, images, audio) and display student work for the class to access from any device that has an internet connection.

The WECDSB, like many other Boards in the Province of Ontario, has performed many integrations that make the vLE the perfect place to serve as a learning hub for all. 
Some important integrations include:

  • Google Apps for Education - students can submit digital creations seamlessly
  • The Ontario Educational Resource Bank (OERB) - teachers can direct students to interactive learning objects without logging in
  • Trillium (Student Information System) - classlists are created automatically and updated every day
  • Turnitin - Teachers and students can check for originality on submitted files

Please take a few moments to learn more about the Virtual Learning Environment

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

How do you Solve a Problem like Maria?

Maria Maini teaches French as a Second Language (FSL) at L.A. Desmarais Catholic Elementary School in Windsor. She does not have to teach the von Trapp family children about the journey of life, but she is entrusted with helping over 150 young people learn a new language. In September of 2012, Maria noticed the students were having trouble making and saving documents and then being able to submit them to her. LAD is a school that has embraced TOOLS2GO, or Google Apps for Education. It is great to witness students sitting down to a computer to create a document or presentation. They do not have to access any software or use a flash drive to find their work... they simply login to their Tools2Go account and start creating. All of their work is saved in the cloud in a safe, secure environment, moderated by the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board, WECDSB. With the direction of Maria and other teachers at LAD, most of the students have organized their files like the ones below.
This is a screenshot of the folders created by Connor from Mrs. Barnes' class at
St. John de Brebeuf Elementary in Kinsville
One of the nice features of TOOLS2GO that Maria, as an FSL teacher, really appreciates is the ability to make documents with appropriate accents and formatting
This is a Google Document created by Samantha, a Grade 6 student in Mrs. Laporte's at LAD
Maria and her students have reaped the benefit of a staff that has embraced Tools2Go and the use of technology. Students are creating mindmaps, documents, presentations, prezis, and more, all in the cloud, accessible from any computer! Further, they are collaborating in real time as all of their creations in Tools2Go and prezi can be shared and accessed by more than 1 person at a time. L.A. Desmarais has truly integrated technology into the daily learning at school and at home.

Saturday, May 4, 2013


Ten by Ten is a website that defines itself as,
"an interactive exploration of the
words and pictures that define the time."

Every hour, 10x10 collects the 100 words and pictures that matter most on a global scale, and presents them as a single image, taken to encapsulate that moment in time. Over the course of days, months, and years, 10x10 leaves a trail of these hourly statements which, stitched together side by side, form a continuous patchwork tapestry of human life.

One of the unique features that may inspire critical thinking in our students
is the access to the HISTORY of 10x10.

Users may access previous "10 by 10"s, by choosing the HISTORY link
below the grid and choose a previous date back to 2004.

Have students compare the events from...


Monday, April 15, 2013


The use of multimedia is changing the landscape of education and the way our young people learn. Students are accessing video, audio, and images from their computers, smartphones, and tablets from anywhere they have an internet connection. Teachers and students are creating inspirational and engaging presentations, websites, blogs, and more, using all of this media in creative and unique ways.

The ability to embed multimedia allows their viewers to watch, listen, and interact without ever having to leave their website, blog, or Learning Management System.

Learn about how to embed all of the multimedia from the web by getting answers to the following questions:

  • What is an embed code?
  • Where can I get embed codes?
  • How do I get these embed codes into my website, blog, or LMS?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Putting your Google Docs online

Google Applications for Education allows users to create dynamic and engaging presentations, or slideshows. Further, Google supports learning and collaboration by offering the ability to share presentations. Once a presentation is published, it is easily embedded into a website, blog, or Learning Management System.

The presentation below was created as a Google Presentation and embedded into this blog. The beauty of embedding is that each time the owner of the presentation (in this case, me!) makes a change, it is automatically updated here.
This provides an excellent solution for teachers who wish to post class presentations, or slideshows, for students to access. Teachers may also embed documents, forms, and drawings, all updated in real time!
Below is a screenshot of a Google Presentation embedded on a class homepage in the Ontario Provincial Learning Management System.

Please note that many web tools (prezi, INFOGRAPHICS, YouTube videos, etc.)
offer embed codes for use in this way.

Thursday, January 31, 2013


Google forms is a fantastic tool that will allow users to collect information using a web form.  This information can be used for data collection, quizzing, diagnostic testing, and more.

Google forms just got a makeover.  Some of the new features are:

  1. Collaborative Forms- You can share a form and work on it together.
  2. You can choose where your form info goes- many forms can point to the same spreadsheet
  3. A whole new look - very clean interface that looks like a Google Doc
  4. Easier Tools to build questions

Google Forms is available through your TOOLS2Go login.

If you need an account email JOE SISCO on the BBS.

For a Brief overview you can check out the video below: 

How might a teacher use a google form?

Friday, January 18, 2013

Busy B's Bringing Blended Learning to Brennan

Matt Bauer and Pam Burke, technology teachers in the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board, spend most of their day working with spreadsheets, presentations (Powerpoint), and pretty much anything in a digital format. 

Matt and Pam needed a way to manage all of the files that students were submitting. Like many teachers, they were carrying around a whole bunch of Flash drives, or having the kids email files to them, or even having the kids login to their 'school teacher space' and save it there... it's exhausting just thinking about it. 

The Learning Management System (LMS) 
has solved these problems.
As part of the Blended Learning program, Matt and Pam have created VIRTUAL DROPBOXES to receive all of these files from the students. 

Matt has received more than 100 files into virtual dropboxes.

Once the files are placed in the dropbox, Matt can download them,
or even just view them online and leave feedback for each of his students. 

Pam has received more than 250 files from students
and has assessed many of them right online.  

Matt and Pam have also used many of the other great features including:

          • posting NEWS items and instructions
          • posting CLASS ASSIGNMENTS
          • embedding POWERPOINT presentations for the kids to view at any time

For more information, please contact Joe Sisco (e-Learning Contact) for the WECDSB.

Thursday, January 10, 2013


The Blended Learning model is happening in classrooms everywhere. Blended Learning combines face-to-face learning with all of the great features of e-Learning and the internet. Students are accessing course content, submitting work, collaborating with other students & their teacher, and building electronic portfolios... all online. Teachers are posting class work, lessons, and resources for access from anywhere, anytime.

e-Learning Ontario has provided access to the Learning Management System (LMS) for all teachers and students in Ontario from K-12.  
Learn more and get started today by contacting the e-Learning Contact (eLC) in your Board. 
Blended Learning Infographic
20" x 60" Infographic
You may download a high-resolution version of this image and display in your school.