October 2017

October 8, 2017- FlipGrid! Giving Students the Power of Expression


Our school recently started a pilot project using FlipGrid. This program is an online video discussion platform in which teachers can create grids which encompass topics to spark discussion to which students respond using video format in a response time set by the teacher (15 seconds - 5 minutes). Sticky notes can also be attached to videos to allow for written response, and additionally, students can personalize their videos using drawings and stickers.

This program can help build student's communication skills and provides all students with a voice. Furthermore, student personalities can shine through in ways that may not be possible in in person and in class discussion.

Some of the uses for FlipGrid in the classroom include:

  • Digital reading response
  • End of year classroom discussion
  • Advice to next year’s class
  • Debate
  • Show what you know
  • Lesson or unit reflection
  • Book talk challenge
  • Exit tickets
  • Explaining math problem reasoning
  • Brainstorming engineering design process

Here is a video i've created to help you get started with using FlipGrid. Hope you enjoy! 



October 15th, 2017- Using Social Media in the Classroom

Social media has become a powerful form of communication for students. However, despite social media being a widespread tool for conversation amongst children and youth, there is still a gap in the use of social media in the classroom (Altenbach, 2016). One of the challenges teachers face is using social media as an educational tool in lieu of a source of entertainment. Furthermore, social media provides students with a wide range of access to information, however, students struggle with differentiating between valid and reliable sources of information.

In an effort to combat these issues, this past week myself and one of the teachers at school worked on integrating Social Media into her Grade 12 Social Studies class with a focus on using Twitter as a research tool.

We conducted this in a workshop that spanned two classes.

Workshop Day 1

Initially, we provided students with an overview of Twitter as well as best practices for conducting themselves as positive digital citizens while on Twitter. We created an account for her class and used Group Tweet as a tool to allow multiple students to post to the class Twitter account which the teacher was able to moderate. We then explored the concept of hashtags by providing students with an opportunity to search for their favourite actors or musicians and examine what they were tweeting about and what hashtags they were using. We then extended upon these issue by having students explore social justice issues on Twitter, hashtags surrounding them, and exploring Tweets by verified vs. unverified users and differences between them.

Workshop Day 2

On day two of the workshop, we introduced the concept of primary and secondary sources. We explained how social media research can be conducted in two parts: 

1. Audience- Who is posting? Who is engaging?

2. Context- What is being discussed?

We then had students analyze tweets pertaining to a social justice issue based on Audience and Context. This activity culminated in students writing their own educational tweet using the class hashtag #HSE4M.

The following are slides used to support this presentation:




Altenbach, Courtney, "Social Media in the Classroom" (2016). Education and Human Development Master's Theses. 642. http://digitalcommons.brockport.edu/ehd_theses/642

Sherchan, D. (2012, January 29). How are people using social media to conduct primary research? Retrieved March 20, 2017, from https://www.quora.com/How-are-people-using-social-media-to-conduct-primary-research


October 20th, 2018-Tools to Incorporate Augmented and Virtual Reality in the Classroom


October 27th-Creating a Student Voice Board!

There is a rising epidemic of mental health issues in schools. According to an article by Anderson & Cardoza (2016), 1 in 5 students in the US shows signs of mental health disorders in a given year which manifest in the form of anxiety, depression, and the like. These mental health issues are commonly the catalyst for common issues in school such as chronic illness, absences and missing work.

However, these students often remain silent and go unnoticed as their struggles are at times invisible.

In an effort to combat some of these issues, as well as provide students with a safe space to share and connect, we created a student voice board.

Our initial thoughts were to create an online platform for students to share and connect as this is the common form of communication for our students, however some of the potential issues with this would be difficulties in moderation in an offline environment and potential for cyber bullying.

In order to work on promoting positive digital citizenship skills in a safe space we decided to create the board in the classroom of one of the founding teachers. The initial board included a question of the week section, a doodle board, and a section for students to post any issues important to them. We enthusiastically posted an announcement, and hoped for student engagement and participation.

However, our initial enthusiasm was met with dismay as students seemed disinterested in participating. Upon inquiring into reasons why, our students informed us that there was a lack of participation due to a disconnect between the board and what they loved about online-the ability to anonymously post questions and answers. As issues of cyber bullying and lack of ability to moderate posts were still of concern, we made some changes to the board to incorporate elements of an online environment. We moved the student voice board to a school hallway in lieu of the teachers class (in order to provide students with more ease and comfort in approaching the board). Furthermore, we provided students with cue cards and envelopes to post questions which we then posted on the board and an additional envelope in which students could post responses to questions posed on the board.

These methods of incorporating aspects of an online environment were effective in attracting student participation. Here is a picture of the final board:


The students began asking powerful questions which reaffirmed a need for a place for safe discussion.


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Have you tried something similar in your school? What were the challenges you faced?


Anderson, M., & Cardoza, K. (2016, August 31). Mental Health In Schools: A Hidden Crisis Affecting Millions Of Students. Retrieved October 17, 2017, from http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2016/08/31/464727159/mental-health-in-schools-a-hidden-crisis-affecting-millions-of-students