Beyond Classroom Tech Tips…

January 8, 2009

Inspired Picture Writing

Filed under: Writing — Donna DesRoches @ 2:35 pm

Inspired picture writing at PicLits.

Remember those poetry fridge magnets? Now try it online with pictures – what a great way to to inspire the creative writing process!

I love this site and could spend hours playing with words and images – creating combinations that reflect my thoughts and emotions.

You can drag and drop the images and the words or you can go ‘freestyle’ and add your own text.

Images can be saved and easily embedded into a blog or facebook. Give a try – get the creative juices flowing!


January 7, 2009

Global Interconnectedness & Web Evaluation

Filed under: Information Literacy — Donna DesRoches @ 10:41 pm

It still amazes me at how emerging technologies can so easily facilitate connection and communication. Yesterday I was browsing my network’s bookmarks in Delicious and came across a bookmark made by Judy O’Connell in Australia to a post by Mike Romard at the Shanghai American School. I really liked the two lessons on web evaluation that he had created for his grade three students and passed the link along to teachers in my school division via Yammer. I immediately received a message back that the link was no longer working. Mike is part of my Twitter network so I sent a DM about the link – he immediately DM’d me and gave me another link which I was able to pass along to the teacher via Yammer. From Shanghai to North Battleford in minutes – wow!

flyingpenquin1Mike’s lessons “for 3rd grade students on the benefits and pitfalls of the World (Wild) Web” provide teachers with a very engaging way to teach lower elementary students about why they need to think critically about what they find on the web. He uses a variety of video sources that illustrate the points that he wants to make as well as links to his favourite answers to the questions he poses his students. He also includes what he would say to the students for each section of the lesson – very cool – very useful – very creative! Give it a look.

Flying Penguins from

January 6, 2009

Sharing Resources

Filed under: Resources,Social bookmarking — Donna DesRoches @ 11:57 pm
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Even though I have been a curriculum consultant for two years now I still have the teacher-librarian’s love of connecting teachers and resources. Although I find it a bit more difficult at the division level to really make connections for people I have found that by using a couple of online tools, Delicious and Yammer, I am able to ‘spread the word’ about the many wonderful resources that I come across via Twitter, my Delicious network and my Bloglines account.

DeliciousDelicious is my favourite web 2.0 tool because it not only allows me to collect and organize resources but it also allows me to annotate them. And when I do so I am thinking in the back of mind about the teachers who might be using the resources and how they might find them useful within their teaching context. I can also let individuals within my Delicious network know about a resource that might meet their specific needs. My wish would be that every teacher in our division would bookmark my Delicious link. Yes, yes, it would be much better if they subscribed to or joined my network – but to even occasionally open the bookmark would allow them to quickly and easily find great resources.

Last fall a member of our iSITS committee (in-school instructionalYammer technology support) started a Living Sky School Division Yammer account and several members of the committee have begun to use it share new resources and to ask for and to provide support for each other. (Yammer is much like Twitter but the participants are limited to those with a specific institutional e-mail address) It has become a very useful communication tool and I often will post links to key resources that I think that teachers might find useful.

There are others tools that I know will also be useful in disseminating information about resources to teachers and over the next few weeks I plan to experiment with start pages to create constantly updated lists of resources in as many subject areas as possible. I will keep you posted with regards to the success of my efforts.

A Photo A Day

Filed under: digital photography — Donna DesRoches @ 2:46 am

Last year I subscribed to and viewed often the 366photo group and wondered if I could possibly manage a photo a day myself. Spurred on by the commitment of those in the group I thought why not start a group and invite friends and colleagues to participate. I did consider joining the larger group – which this year has become very large – but decided I wanted a bit more of personal touch and to at least begin this experience with those that I know.

I have managed five days so far and already I can see that it will be difficult to manage a photo a day – but I am keeping my eyes open and maybe beginning to look at the world in a new way. I hope to that over the course of the year I will become better acquainted with my camera and begin to play with a photo editing program. I am delighted that others have begun to post – some of my friends and colleagues are very talented – but even more important is that this can be another way of building community; of sharing our knowledge,  our expertise and even a little of ourselves.

Stop by and see our photos on flickr.

January 3, 2009

A Day of Learning

Filed under: Professional Learning — Donna DesRoches @ 2:27 am
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Today was a great way to begin the New Year. I began by listening to Darren Kurpatwa and the convenors of the 2008 K-12 Online Conference and by participating in the backchannel on Chatterous. I found the conversations enthralling as we talked about 21st c. learning, teaching and the hurdles that many impassioned educators are facing.

My most favourite moment of the broadcast was listening to Darren speak about how math is about patterns and how important it is to teach students how to recognize patterns. I have heard Darren speak a few times now and have always been impressed by his enthusiasm and his energy but in this moment in the interview I really heard the passion with which he approaches teaching and especially teaching math

Neil Winton has provided an excellent summary of the interview and the chat.

Following Darren’s interview I logged into Elluminate to participate in a discussion facilitated by Will Richardson on 21st C literacies. Wow! Did the discussion fly! At times it seemed disjointed and it felt like we were going in circles as we struggled with defining literacies and differentiating them from skills. I am in the midst of reading the transcript of the chat and look forward to listening again to the discussion when the audio is posted.

I managed to clean my house and make an occasional post to the chats as I prepared for afternoon coffee and a face-to-face chat with my office mates – who are also curriculum consultants. As great as virtual opportunities are there is nothing like being in the company of good friends and professional colleagues.

January 1, 2009

7 things meme

Filed under: Personal — Donna DesRoches @ 8:03 pm

Many thanks to Rick Schwier who invited me to participate in the 7 things meme. It spurred me on to writing my first blog post of 2009. Below are the ‘7 things you probably don’t know about me’.

  1. When I was seven our house burned to the ground and my family lost everything. We were squatting on Royal land at Mile 923.3 on the Alaska Highway where my father had built a home. The oil tank that heated our home caught fire 11 days after Christmas and slowly grew into a blaze that destroyed everything. None of my family was harmed and the Whitehorse community looked after us very well. I remember being happy that I did not have to go to school because I did not have uniform
  2. I learned about the power of community and belonging when I played the flute in my high school band. I was not very good but I practiced diligently and managed to become first flautist. We worshiped our band teacher and under his leadership solidified into a strong community that extended beyond the band room. I loved high school and it was primarily because of the community that he created.
  3. I started my teaching career in a ‘alternate’ school in Lethbridge where everyone was called by their first name. Even now, 30 years later, I feel uncomfortable when students call me Ms. DesRoches. Today in the more traditional school setting when I give students the option to call me Donna or Ms. DesRoches they prefer Ms. DesRoches.
  4. I learned the difference between charity and development when I spent eight months as a volunteer in Cochabamba, Bolivia working with street children. I learned that it is very hard even for a knowledgeable volunteer to put aside beliefs and passions and let the people tell you what they need and to simply carry it out. I brought my love of books with me and spent a great deal of money buying books for the children and the school that I worked in. I never once consulted with others about what the real needs might be. The children loved the books but I still wonder if the money could have been better used elsewhere.
  5. I am a strong supporter of Save the Children Canada. I began as a branch volunteer planning fund raising and awareness activities, was elected to the board, and eventually became Chair. During my time on the Board I visited our projects in India and Ethiopia. While in Ethiopia I opened a food relief outlet in the highland community of Ajbar. Even though I am no longer on the board or involved in branch activities Save the Children remains my charity of choice.
  6. I have met both Stephen Lewis and Romeo Dalliare. In my role as the Board Chair of Save the Children Canada I presented our annual award to Stephen Lewis and at the same gala sat at the head table with Romeo Dallaire who was the guest speaker. Wow! A night to remember!
  7. I collect dragons. Early in my career at NBCHS I acquired the nickname ‘dragon-lady’ and as a joke a co-worker presented me with a dragon that remains on my desk today. Since then I have acquired many dragons both European and Asian. I love the symbolism each represents – in the European dragon, the fears that we must slay before we can move forward and in the Asian dragon, wisdom, knowledge and immortality. My most recent dragon is a beautiful jade carving that my sister brought back from China.


Eldon Germann
Morag Riddel
Gary Ball
Pat Cone

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