What is Digital Literacy? Oh and FreeTech4Teachers

What is digital literacy? Information literacy? It all relates to the idea that with content and information so accessible to students these days, it’s just as important to be teaching them the skills to acquire this information as it is to teach the content itself. Some of these skills, such as these outlined by the National Council of Teachers of English include the ability to:

– develop proficiency with the tools of technology

– build relationships with others to pose and solve problems collaboratively and cross-culturally

– design and share information for global communities to meet a variety of purposes

– manage, analyze and synthesize multiple streams of simultaneous information

– create, critique, analyze and evaluate multimedia texts

– attend to the ethical responsibilities required by these complex environments.

So how do we even begin? Where do we even start? If this all seems daunting….then slowly! Start by reading an article, maybe try something new. Ask your colleagues what they’re doing and using. Visit the Librarian 😉

With that being said, FreeTech4Teachers is a great place to start poking around. The creator, Richard Byrne (who I incidentally also follow on Twitter!) blogs some great articles. For example, “Dozens of Alternatives to YouTube,” “7 Tools for building Review Games” (think Jeopardy), or “5 Tools Students Can Use to Create Alternative Book Reports.” It also conveniently has a search bar, so you can focus on your specific needs.

He’s also the creator of Ipad Apps for Schools and has numerous other helpful links on his page, such as Google tutorials (there’s SO much more to Google than the search engine!), how to create blogs and websites and much more.  In the words of Demiris, be a browser 🙂


Richardson, W. (2012). Why school how education must change when learning and information are everywhere / Will Richardson. New York, NY: TED Conferences.


Make your posters POP with Canva

Canva’s a pretty cool tool I discovered recently, that’s also fairly intuitive and could easily be used by upper intermediate students as well. It’s a design app that allows you to make posters, infographics, promote events, create cool pictures for websites, inspire your students with quotes….you get the drift.

The one down side of this website, is that it does need to make $ and the number of free backgrounds, images and shapes are limited. That being said, I still found it worthwhile, particularly if you’re sourcing your images from elsewhere (your own files, pixabay.com, pic4learning.com). It does require a sign up with email address, so suitability for student use is at your discretion. Can be downloaded or shared as PDF, images or URL.

I will definitely be using this tool for signs around the library, updating my blog, creating posters for events and even lessons. Here’s a sample I made to showcase!

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Brainstorming. Webs. Graphic organizers. Mind mapping. Whatever you like to call it, Popplet does it. You can easily colour code, add pictures, videos, connect and disconnect ideas. Very easy to use, even for primary students. Helps show relationships, improve organization, reinforce note-taking, concept mapping.

Program is both an Ipad app and web based tool.

Check out my very quickly and easily made Graphic Novel brainstorm requirements!


It’s Spring…..Tweet! Tweet!

Ever wondered about Twitter, what a Tweet is or what on earth it’s possibly for good for?

I did. I imagined a Facebook or Instagram without the pictures. And I mostly only like the pictures 🙂 So what’s the point?? I recently caved in June and created an account to stay current on all our job issues over the summer, but here’s what I discovered.

1. There are many amazing teachers on Twitter, from all across the globe, who use it as a virtual staffroom for sharing resources, pictures, links and other relevant professional materials.

2. There are chats about EVERYTHING and anything to do with education. Interested in talking to other teachers about technology, ipads, special ed, Edmodo…..literally, there’s a chat for that. See the schedule below for just a SAMPLE Screen shot 2015-03-31 at 8.48.30 PM

3. Professional Development doesn’t just happen on Pro D. As teachers we need to be more cognizant of our PLN’s (Personal Learning Networks). Who do we learn from? How can we access the information we need? How do we share information that we’ve learned? Twitter is a great way to start expanding our PLN’s. Find a few colleagues or professional accounts. See who they follow. Start to network!

4. You can connect and communicate with leaders in the field in ways you never could before or otherwise. I follow Will Richardson, author of the book “Why School?” I recommended, which enables me to ask him questions, make comments and learn from him in ways more meaningful than just reading his book. Did I mention @Raffi_RC is a prolific tweeter? And who doesn’t love Raffi.

Here’s a few of my favourites I follow:

Screen shot 2015-03-31 at 9.02.50 PM                               Screen shot 2015-03-02 at 10.10.40 PM Screen shot 2015-03-02 at 10.11.09 PM                              Screen shot 2015-03-02 at 10.12.17 PM Screen shot 2015-03-02 at 10.12.40 PM

I’d be happy to help anyone interested in setting up an account or wanting more information! #bced #edchat #edtech


“Top Reasons Why Teachers and Educators Use Twitter.”- http://edtechreview.in/news/522-top-reasons-why-teachers-educators-use-twitter

“Ten Reasons Why Teachers Use Twitter as a Professional Development Tool.” – http://www.educatorstechnology.com/2013/08/10-reasons-why-teachers-use-twitter-as.html

? Interested in Inquiry ?

I know this year we’ve spent a fair bit of time thinking about and implementing more inquiry based lesson and units. While the point of inquiry is for students to discover their own learning and interests, we still do have curriculum and they still need guidance and some kick starts to get them going. Here’s some great resources I’ve found to support the inquiry interested inquisitors (try saying THAT 3x fast!)

http://guides.library.ubc.ca/inquirybasedlearning – lessons, units, books, videos targeting Elementary teachers, compiled by the UBC LIbrary

http://eduwebinar.com.au/web-tools-to-support-inquiry-based-learning – organizes it’s tools into helpful categories such as explore/locate, identify/define and create/share, making it easy to pinpoint which tools will be most effective for your specific needs.

http://www.inquiry-based.com/ – focus on SS inquiry units, but also has book suggestions, teacher resources and classroom in action videos.

DiscoveryLeaC05a-A06bT06a-Zphoto courtesy of http://www.discoverylc.com/index.php?page=12

Ed Tech Teacher

With these new Digital Literacy Standards very near on the Horizon, it’s important to always be trying new ICT (information and communication technology) resources, implementing new tools into our practice and thinking how technology can enhance our teaching. One great asset I’ve found helpful is EdTechTeacher. Some highlights of the many great ideas you can find on their website are:

– Reviewed tech tools by subject or skill. For example websites or apps for math or timelines, creating books, connecting with other classrooms etc. Also rates all tools for usefulness and ease of use.

– Live and archived webinars on varying tech topics. For example there was a webinar in January called “Creating and Collaborating on E-books: How you can use e-books to enhance teaching and learning.” I’d be very happy to host a viewing party of some of these in the library if there’s any interest.

– Innovative projects and lessons. Like this one on creating Non-Fiction riddles. See Ben’s riddle using the Explain Everything app (also a great app I saw showcased at my last Pro D)

So many new things to be learned here!


Padlet is a great new way to collect and post information. Think of it almost as a graffiti wall. You can easily choose a background, create a new “pin”, insert pictures, links, videos, then conveniently drag or resize to suit your board. Kids can easily add to your wall, no email required, and you can choose to moderate posts or not. Great way to share information as a class. Some ways to use? Post your favourite part of your field trip, the best thing about Spring, book reviews…..you name it! Check out my two padlets on resources for Residential Schools and Favourite Picture books. Or check out this quick how-to video to see how easy it really is!

Residential Schools

Favourite Picture Books