Try out Edpuzzle using Edpuzzle

As I work with teachers who are starting to get our Online School up and running, they have one common frustration. They spend much time putting together online lessons, often including video content, only to have students go straight to the assignment, skipping the “teaching” or lesson component. Then, of course, the student contacts the teacher to complain that they don’t know what to do or how to do it.

While there may be other factors that complicate a student’s ability to “follow” along in an online classroom, using Edpuzzle for at least some of your video instruction will increase the accountability and understanding of instructional videos:

  • understanding increases because students are asked to think more closely about the video in order to answer embedded questions
  • understanding might also increase if a teacher adds a voice-over or a voice-note to a video to help it better fit the class context
  • accountability increases if you assign the video as an Assignment in Google Classroom – the incomplete videos will show up for the teacher as “not turned in”, as incomplete in the students’ Classroom “To-Do” list, and as a Missing Assignment in the guardian summaries (if you are using them)
  • accountability increases as the unwatched video will show up as incomplete in Google Classroom’s grade tab, hopefully prompting the teacher to have a chat with the student about class expectations.

Edpuzzle has many other features that make it easy and convenient to use:

  • create from almost any type of video – YouTube, Vimeo, or your own personal videos or screencasts stored in Google Drive, your phone, or anywhere
  • trim portions of videos that aren’t needed
  • remix videos and questions from the Edpuzzle library or create your own questions
  • personalize the video with your own voice
  • create math questions and answers with math symbols available
  • videos can be turned into self-grading quizzes
  • data is collected in an easy to use dashboard

I’ve use Edpuzzle for years in my in-person classroom, but it is one of those tools that seems to be even MORE useful in an online or hybrid classroom. So, what are you waiting for? Click here to try out Edpuzzle in a 2-minute video about Edpuzzle.

Track Flipgrid Assignments in Google Classroom

Here’s yet another great way to use the ever-flexible in your online, hybrid or in-person classes.

As our teaching profession has been pushed to accommodate on-line learning, we’ve quickly realized that our assessments need to change. If we send out multiple choice or “find it in the book” assignments, students will “collaborate” with each other or perhaps even have siblings or parents do the work. Instead, we need to find ways to efficiently determine if the actual student knows the material. And, equally as important for teachers with a never-ending to-do list, we need assessment procedures that are not onerous to mark or keep track of!

Flipgrid ticks all of the boxes for assessing learning in a deeper way. You can have students efficiently show what they know by:

  • doing a 30 second or 1 minute summary of a concept
  • defending a position or a product or solution
  • uploading a picture of their math solution and explaining HOW they solved it
  • and so many more — add your ideas in the comments below!

And then Google Classroom can create a workflow to help identify when students have completed their Flipgrid assignment. If your school uses guardian summaries, parents will get a weekly email of the work that still needs to be done – this can include the Flipgrid task if it is created as an Assignment through Classroom. Students can see the assignment as incomplete in Classroom’s improved “To-do”. And teachers will see the assignment as a column in the Grades tab, allowing them to easily assign a grade or a completion checkmark.

Check out this video for the steps to create “trackable” Flipgrid assignments through Google Classroom.

Marco Polo – For When your Kids Leave Home

Within a few months of this past September, all 3 of our teenagers moved out of the house- one to Sweden, one to Australia, and one to university 2 hours down the highway. Of course, Social Media somehow makes this a little easier than when we moved away from home back in the 1990s and you planned to call every second Sunday at 8pm… and could only afford to talk for 10 minutes.

We started out connecting with a clan-wide What’s App chat, as not every kid had a data plan, and you can What’s App any time you had airport wifi, for example. This was a good way to keep everyone in the loop.

Then there was the Instagram ‘story’ issue. The kids would almost only post to their Instagram stories (with a 24-hour shelf life) instead of their stream (more permanent); this was problematic as their mother, and certainly their grandmother, missed lots of their updates as we are less indentured to social media and often missed the 24-hour window. A plea to post to the stream instead was not even entertained, as apparently that would be too spammy. Who knew.

We still use What’s App, but a few months in, one of our babes suggested that Marco Polo would be more efficient during her limited wifi availability. None of the rest of us knew what Marco Polo was, nor were we excited to have yet another Social Media account. So what is Marco Polo, anyway, you ask? I’ve heard some describe it as a “video walkie-talkie”, which I guess is mostly how we use it. We have our family connected in a chat. At any time, a family member can open the chat, press play and record an update, or flip the camera to show what interesting place or city they are exploring. At first the girls used it when there was some fantastic place they wanted to show us. Then mom and dad realized we could leverage it to keep the home fires burning….supper at Grandma’s house….cutting down the trees in the front yard… camping at a favourite spot, sans kids…planting the garden without any child labour…. Turns out the kids enjoyed the moments from home too, and our university son even started showing off the gourmet meals he was bbqing and his trips to the local farmers market.

Marco Polo – highly recommended when your kids move away.

PD Training Choice Boards

Check out these quick access PD Choice Boards. “Make a Copy”, or even better, “Add a Shortcut to Drive” to get the latest updates. Because, of course, during this crazy still-COVID time, updates are everywhere!

Click the links above each image to access these personal PD Boards. These sheets are printable in 11 X 8.5 format.

Click here for clickable version of Google ClassroomClick here for clickable version of Tools for Engagement & Formative Assessment
Click here for clickable version of Hybrid LearningClick here for clickable version of Google Meet Tips
Click here for clickable version of Creating Relationships and Engagement OnlineClick here for clickable version of Seesaw
Click here for clickable version of Chromebooks or 

The Genesis of these PD Choice Boards

Our district is launching a new school – an Adult Learning Hub taught out of our local college. The college is starting its year fully online, and so our new school and teachers will thus be operating fully online, at least to start. This is different than the rest of our district’s schools that will be starting face to face in a “near normal” format. To help this new school and its teachers get started, I created these one-page PD Choice Boards which include videos, articles, and training websites. Teachers can choose the items that THEY need some more info about.

It turns out that these topics and “PD Refreshers” will be helpful for teachers in hybrid and face-to-face situations as well. Click on any of the links or enter the shortlink to access resources that have been curated based on Frequently Asked Questions in our school district.

These PD Choice Boards are coming soon:

  • Video and Screen-recording options
  • Building Reading Skills

FINAL REFLECTIONS: ISTE Summer Learning Academy 2020

I’ve learned LOTS of things this summer. Summer is my time for that, even though it drives my hubby CRAZY! He thinks that I am WORKING all summer, but really I am so excited to invest time in learning. When ISTE 2020 😢 got cancelled, I signed up for the very reasonably priced Summer Learning Academy 2020 – not fully sure what to expect. Although I didn’t keep up with the fast-paced three week schedule, I did have a goal to finish the “course requirements” before Back to School. Success!!!

Our final assignment was a reflection post. Since my blog is called, “What I Learned Today…”, it seemed fitting to post my reflections here; it’s been a while since I’ve posted on what I’ve been learning.

#1 -VIDEOS watched – I moved the list to the bottom of this post

#2 – Two valuable things I learned during the Summer Learning Academy? 

*Learned from a Webinar

I really enjoyed Michele Eaton’s work, so I was so very pleased when she kept showing up in the micro-courses. But one of the first things I learned from her was in the Week 1 “The Perfect Blend” webinar. My big takeaway is the 3 types of synchronous interaction: 

Student-to-student; student-to-teacher; and student-to-content. 

My brain really clicked with these differentiations and in the past few weeks since I heard this I have noticed that I have been writing about it and works get into the materials that I have been designing for my school district.  In our school district, the student-to-student interaction has probably been most overlooked so it was a good reminder that we need to provide students with ways that they can still work with their classmates even in a digital online environment.

From the student-to-content section, this is something that I have been trying to help my teachers with 4 years already! I’ve been trying to get them to add “stop and reflect” moments with tools such as Polleverywhere or Mentimeter or even Google Slides and PearDeck. While I hope they have at least tried some, many have still been afraid to add that extra student-to-content interaction because they feel they are limited by the video platform connection. I have tried to model that this CAN work when I have done many synchronous PD sessions that they have attended so hopefully, it will sink in eventually!

*Learned from the Micro-courses 

I started with the course that I thought I was most interested in – “Designing Online Learning Experiences.” This was course 2 of 4. 

Michele Eaton, once again, did a really incredible job of “chunking” the information into sensible topics that it didn’t feel like a landslide coming at you all at once.

In Module 2, I loved the reminder of Pace, Path, Time and Place, and then the list of options like Choice Boards, Playlists, and Checklists.  While I use all of these methods myself, I realize that many of my teachers would not be familiar with these options.

In Module 3, Michele had a great reminder that learning is SOCIAL. As a high school teacher, I was sometimes too concerned with “getting to curriculum”, but fortunately, I love formative tech tools, so my students always had fun with activities designed for review and for learning new ideas. Many of Michele’s ideas can be seen in the PD Choice Boards that I created and shared below.

In Module 4, I appreciated how practically she framed everything around COGNITIVE LOAD.  I really need to keep the “smaller pieces” (ie. shorter videos) theme foremost in my own teaching and training, but also as a constant message when I work with my teachers.

#3 – Applying What I’ve Learned – Implementing in my Schools/Practice in the fall.

In my role as an Instructional Coach, one of my projects for Back to School was to develop some simple PD Choice Boards that teachers could access if they wanted more info on a particularly hot topic in their world.  I was designing and creating these while I was doing the SLA 2020, so many of the links and ideas will connect to content or ideas that I learned during the Summer Academy:

Check out some of my work, inspired by SLA 2020.  PD Training Choice Boards…

Click here for clickable version of Google ClassroomClick here for clickable version of Tools for Engagement & Formative Assessment
Click here for clickable version of Hybrid LearningClick here for clickable version of Google Meet Tips
Click here for clickable version of Creating Relationships and Engagement OnlineClick here for clickable version of Seesaw Refresher

#1 – Videos (or mostly Recordings) that I viewed during ISTE SLA 2020: 

  • “Online With Intention” with Jennifer Williams and Billy Spicer (Monday, July 13)
  • “Chart a New Course” with Rachelle Dene Poth and David Lockett (Tuesday, July)
  • “No More Snow Days” with Mike Ribble (Wednesday, July 15)
  • “The Perfect Blend” with Michele Eaton and Marcus Vu (Thursday, July 16)
  • Friday Funday: Virtual Escape (Class)Room! (Friday, July 17)
  • “Engaging Elementary Students in STEM Learning” with Amanda Thomas and Amy Sokoll Bauer (Monday, July 20)
  • “Make Remote Learning Engaging for Students by Focusing on Equity and SEL” with Jorge Valenzuela (Tuesday, July 21)
  • “Blended Learning” with Kimberly Lane Clark & Carla Malloy Jefferson (Wednesday, June 22)
  • “Lessons Learned from Remote Teaching” with Lynn Girolamo and Liz Simons (Thursday, July 23)
  • “Applying Learning Science in Online/Blended Learning Environments” with Saro Mohammed and Jin-Soo Huh (Monday, July 27)
  • “Facilitating Educational Equity Online through Project-Based Learning” with Rich Dixon and Lisa Mireles (Tuesday, July 28)
  • “Bite-Size Tips for Creating Awesome Sauce Videos in the Classroom” with Josh Stock (Wednesday, July 29)
  • “Designing Empowering (Distance) Learning!” with Fanny Passeport and Emma Ahmed (Thursday, July 30)
  • “Engage in the New Age” with Sonn Sam and Daisy Sam (Thursday, July 30)

Padlet: For the Blended-Learning environment

As we go forward in education from COVID-19 (season 1!), we need to use teaching strategies and tools that will bounce seamlessly between in-person and virtual learning.

Furthermore, in our digital spaces we need to employ tools that encourage maximum connection: teacher to student, student to content and student to student. If a tech tool can facilitate all of these connections well, it warrants consideration.

Padlet warrants a consideration in our blended classrooms for several reasons:

Access considerations: 1. It is as useful face to face as in a digital environment; 2. It requires no student login, making it very quick to use; 3. the teacher can customize the link name, making it easier if students need to type the link; 4. it generates its own QR code for more easy access

Uses: 1. Successful synchronous digital sessions have students connect with their work and with each other. For example, the teacher suggests a quick activity and students post – opinions, pictures, etc- quickly in a place where others can see the work as it comes in; 2. Padlet allows users to quickly post the following: text, image, web link, live audio, live video, and even drawings! This diverse list is where it rises above similar apps. And… 3. Teachers can allow a variety of feedback options from peers: comments, likes, and votes, thus increasing collaboration and connection; 4. The Padlet can be used during synchronous instruction, or the same Padlet activity can spill into the asynchronous learning time as well. Consider these options for the ultimate digital gallery walk!

Comparison to Similar Tools

Flipgrid – my colleagues all know that Flipgrid is one of my favourite things, but there are times when I would choose Padlet. Padlet allows quick sharing of text, web links and drawings. While you can do all of those to some extent in Flipgrid, it has to be from within a video. Padlet lets you record a video, just like Flipgrid – peers can type comments in response on Padlet. There are fewer steps to posting a quick check in or response on Padlet. A Padlet board can be viewed all at once, allowing it to be a place where a teacher could post a library of web links or resources.

Wakelet- Wakelet wins in the library/curation/resource-sharing-from-a-teacher category, but I would go with Padlet to quickly collect resources from students. Padlet is quicker to access with a single link or QR code, and once a student posts their item, it is easier to write a text description than in Wakelet. Padlet and Wakelet offer similar viewing options – list, grid, etc and the teacher can reorganize use in either. Because Padlet doesn’t create thumbnails of its posts, longer posts can make a Padlet board unruly to organize.

The downside…

Tech Tips in 20: Season 1 Recap

It’s now been 2 or 3 weeks since the final episode of Tech Tips in 20 – a district-wide (and beyond!) 20 minute-ish tech tip session Tuesdays and Thursdays at 11 am that started soon after “COVID season”. This was yet another idea for delivering Professional Development to our very geographically distant school district.

In the past few years that I’ve been a district-wide Instructional Coach, we’ve tried out several models of offering virtual PD to circumvent the complexities of travel and time. You can read about some of the other things we’ve tried ~ each with their own highlights and varying degree of success. Why does it seem so hard to entice some colleagues into learning?

  • First we tried a district-wide bookstudy using Flipgrid; here is the original idea and mid-way musings and final take-aways. It’s so hard to get it right! Flipgrid bookstudy was awesome for some, but some quit participating because they didn’t like to be on video.
  • Then there was the district wide book study that we tried with Padlet – you can take a video, do audio or type – something for everyone. The format was a bit overwhelming and folks only typed- quite short responses that were difficult to generate conversation from/between. And, COVID happened before we could finish the book. As most of our participants were administrators, a book-study was no longer very high on the priority list as everyone pivoted to create a new normal!
  • And we went out on what seemed like a big limb with, the year-long district-wide PD Bingo which just ended 2 weeks ago. It was SO awesome to see how some teachers became so involved with learning risk-taking. Checking out their final artifact submissions was really motivating. But, by the end of the year, less than 10% of our staff made a submission to claim their “PD time” prizes. Is that successful?
  • And then there was the shorter book-like study that started rolling in February, but got cut short by COVID.

So then there was Tech Tips in 20. As I provide lots of technology assistance in my role as Instructional Coach, I was very busy helping teachers get their “sails open” during the first month of COVID (mid March to mid April). Our district colleagues did an excellent job of shifting to remote learning, and many were already meeting with students 2 or 3 days after shut down.

Why? What I noticed during that month was that there was such a range of questions about what I’ll call “support technology” – not the big lifters like Google Classroom or Seesaw (although this was where MOST questions came from!), but a wide variety of tools to enhance what teachers would do in those spaces. By mid April, teachers seemed to have time to catch a breath, and it also seemed like they were interested in the “shared experience” – what was working, or not working, for others.

How? Since it seemed like I was answering the same questions over and over, or repeating suggestions for certain tools or ways to use them, and making how-to videos almost daily, we brought those factors into conjunction for a twice weekly “tech tip coffee break” – Tech Tips in 20. We sent out a survey to help determine frequency, time of day and days of the week and a check list of possible tools, compiled the data…. and launched.

The format. In the end, we did two ‘shows’ a week via Google Meet for 9 weeks – 18 episodes in all. Anyone could attend – teachers, administrators, Education Assistants, or teachers from other districts. We set up a website with an advance “tool/tip” schedule and after each session I posted the mini-lesson slide deck and the session recording (usually!) in a Google Classroom – which felt a little more private for the folks who had attended the Meet. After a few episodes, I also wrote a brief mini-lesson blog post with links by request of educators in near-by districts who couldn’t access our Google Classroom. Check out the topic “Launch Pad” here.

The success?

By in-person attendance metrics, Tech Tips in 20 wasn’t a raging success. There were rarely over a dozen people in attendance; in fact, one week it was just me and Rebecca, the perfect-attender!

But, each episode was fun. There weren’t any times that I left feeling that the session had been a complete flop! People how had time conflicts contacted me often for reminders on how to access the recordings in Google Classroom. The episode mini-lessons posted on my blog continue to get occasional hits. I have a nicely polished library of quick tech-tip mini-lessons that I can use into the future!

Perhaps one of the nicest outcomes was the great camaraderie that developed between regular attenders who taught at schools hundreds of kms apart and had never met in person.


  1. A few weeks in, I was really quite convinced that one could deliver a quality synchronous technology experience PD. This led to larger, hour-long PD sessions for our district on the big tools: Google Classroom, Seesaw and Flipgrid. Attendance at these far exceeded numbers that would have participated in in-person sessions offered at our central office. As such, I think that our far-flung teaching staff are now much more comfortable attending a virtual PD session and as a result, efforts to offer virtual/digital PD in the future will be far more successful than such attempts pre-COVID.
  2. You have to start somewhere. Cathy, my co-coach and I, have talked about delivering virtual after school PD for two years already. But, there always seemed to be some reason that it wouldn’t fly. Tech Tips in 20 just “jumped out of the nest” – and it flew pretty well. So at this point, the plan in the fall will be to actually deliver that long dreamed of after-school PD, using the proven Tech in 20 model.
  3. I am starting to accept (or concede?) that delivering far-reaching, impactful PD is just very difficult. There are teachers who are passionate about learning more about teaching and how to better craft and deliver learning experiences for students; and then there are teachers who aren’t interested in learning more about teaching. One of these group is larger than the other and without an external pressure or motivator will be stuck there. There might be a group in the middle, but it isn’t very large. But there IS a group of teachers who are intrinsically motivated to learn and improve, and this group is worth it. So even if numbers are low, if the learning and sharing is rich and rewarding, it is worth it for those who want to grow.

Watering the seeds in the fertile ground is more productive that watering seeds sitting on the pavement.

Chromebook Chronology at PRSD8

To set the context, our district technology department is rushing to add enough student Chromebooks to our district fleet so that our grade 4-12 students will have 1:1 Chromebook access in September 2020 if/when we return to school in a post-COVID reality.

During the final week of COVID-interrupted school in June 2020, I sent a reminder to principals about the allocation and distribution of our fleet of staff Chromebooks. One principal contacted me to tell me about the new staff member coming in who would inherit a Chromebook, and could I please provide some of the Chromebook training materials that I had offered. This new teacher is named Wade, and hearing about him joining our district staff and needing a Chromebook made me instantly recall a conversation that was already indelibly imprinted on my mind from when he was a pre-service teacher in my college #EdTech class -when we talked about our district’s then non-existent Chromebook journey.

Let’s join Wade back in a post that I wrote in 2016 called “Never Say Never“, where I get to pilot the district’s first set of Chromebooks in December, after telling Wade in September that I don’t think our district will ever purchase any!

Since I am somewhat of a chronicler, I decided to blog about this surprising new experience.

 Chromebooks: Day 1 and 2 and then Chromebooks: 1 Week in

Despite having new Chromebooks, our district was not in favour of having students use Google products so we did not have a Google Education domain. We did have access to the Office 365 collaborative (supposedly!) tools. At this time, practically no teachers or students were using the online version of Office Tools – everything was very desktop based – which is a problem if you are on Chromebooks or iPads. And so the story continued as I experimented with these new machines…

Chromebooks: Office 365 vs Google Experiment #1

Chromebooks: Google vs. Office365 Round 2

Chromebooks and the Substitute Teacher & Chromebooks: New life for Old Mice

Chromebooks: Google vs. Office365-Printing and “Handheld” access

Although Microsoft and its Office 365 have made incredible strides in the Education side of products in the past year or two, in 2016, everything about using Google for Education just seemed easier.

2018 -Touchscreen teacher Chromebooks ready for distribution; student Chromebooks in carts waiting to be delivered

Fast forward to the spring of 2018. I now am out of the classroom working as a district-wide Instructional Coach. In May and June, I hand-deliver touchscreen Chromebooks to every teacher in our district….after they sit through a quick 20 minute Chromebook orientation session. Along with the Chromebook, each teacher gets a “Your new Chromebook: Mini-Guide” – a 4-page infographic style guide to all the things that I think will be important to help our teachers dig into using their new machines. Our teachers are receiving their own machines so that they are better able to help students use the over 800 student devices that were being distributed, proportionally by population, to each of our schools (total student population of about 2300.) Unfortunately and surprisingly, I did not write about this delivery at the time!

For our very Smart Notebook savy staff, the shift to Chromebooks is a challenge as the powerful Smart Notebook software which they have become so adept at using only runs on desktops. Navigating this shift was, and still is, a challenge, and it is one that I am constantly helping teachers find a solution for, delivering many PD sessions such as Smart Notebooks to Chromebooks

This brings us to June 2020 when we are shifting to a 1-1 Chromebook model for our grade 4-12 population. Fortunately, our teachers had their own Chromebooks to take home if they were “teaching from home” over the past 4 months.

As for Wade, he has graduated as a full-fledged teacher and will be using Chromebooks for instruction in his new PRSD8 position.

Tech in 20 Mini: Novel Effect

Yet another “Tech Tip in 20” mini-PD offered in #PRSD8 during COVID19. Here the original Google Meet-delivered lesson is converted into a click-able format for you to use with your own staff or students.

Background Info: Why Novel Effect?

If you teach kids or even know any kids and want to enrich their lives by reading to them, Novel Effect is a simple but powerful app that will make your story time magical. Students get your personality and reading style along with a sound and music track that uses AI (Artificial Intelligence) to follow your reading cues.

Hands-on Mini-Lesson. Follow these steps:

  1. Story Time….. Listen & Enjoy. (During our Virtual PD I read How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight by Jane Yolen. It is nice and short for the taste of the app, and the app effects are lovely….and it was a book that I still had in my house from when my kids were young. (If you can’t do a live reading, here is Where the Wild Things Are – with Novel Effect, recorded on Flipgrid
  2. Have participants download the Novel Effect App to their phone and/or tablet.
  3. Search the ever-growing list of Novel Effect books (doc) or search on the App and ❤️ your favourites
  4. Try it yourself! If you are physically in the same room, you might have teachers find a corner so they can read to the app to experience its effects!
  5. Wrap up. Have participants return (ie. to the virtual chat) and share the book(s) they tried and their experience with the app. (Was it easy to use? Would students find it magical?)

Get the lesson mini slide-deck here.

Here’s a good overview video:

More Personal PD:

Tech in 20 Mini: Flippity

Yet another “Tech Tip in 20” mini-PD offered in #PRSD8 during COVID19. Here the original Google Meet-delivered lesson is converted into a click-able format for you to use with your own staff or students.

Background Info: Why Flippity? takes premade spreadsheet templates and lets the user quickly create cool stuff. Type in your content, press a few buttons, and PRESTO! Consider how you might use these neat tools both in and out of the classroom: Flashcards 🛠 Quiz Show 🛠 Random Name Picker 🛠 Tournament Bracket 🛠 Scavenger Hunt 🛠Fun With Words 🛠 Manipulative 🛠 Timeline 🛠 Badge Tracker 🛠 Typing Text 🛠 Spelling Word Manager 🛠 Word Search 🛠 Crossword Puzzle 🛠 Word Scramble 🛠 Bingo 🛠 Hangman 🛠 Matching Game 🛠 Mad Libs 🛠 Progress Indicator

Hands-on Mini-Lesson. Follow these steps:

  1. Play a quick Flippity sample game –Let’s play Jeopardy (in the practice game only the first 2 columns, 4 rows are used) If playing virtually, the first correct answer typed in the chat gets the points! Be sure to use the point counter in Jeopardy to keep track!
  1. Go to – Watch the KEY STEP TO SUCCESS with Flippity
  2. Try creating your own: Use this Flippity generator to randomly assign each learner a Flippity tool to explore – create something new or edit the existing template
  3. When time is up, “Publish”, then “get the link” and paste it in the chat if you are meeting Virtually

Get the lesson mini-slide deck here.

Here’s a good overview/tutorial:

More Personal PD: