Notability on Sale (Only 99 cents)

I usually don’t promote an app that costs money, but Notability is a great app and typically costs $5.99.  It also has new annotation features that make it even better.  The launch of these new features seems to be the reason for the discount.  I don’t know how long the sale will continue.

Notability is a powerful note-taking tool.  It allows you to write, illustrate, and annotate using a subtle interface. Notability’s zoom window helps you draw every detail. The palm rest feature works nicely too.

Import forms, contracts, worksheets, documents, presentations, and even books; then use the same tools that help you take beautiful notes in Notability to mark up PDFs. Uses Google Drive to import other formats too.

This app is a teacher favourite and is widely used by students across our Board.

When Tech Becomes a Problem: Conversation Starters

This one makes me crazy. “Why pay for tickets?!” Ugh….

These illustrations by Jean Jullien (a French artist) are great conversations-starters for class discussions about our use of phones, tablets and social networks.  His work, full of irony, shows us when technology gets in the way of real connections between people. When technology becomes an addition (like anything else) the consequences can be quite serious.



Dec. 1st NGL Day

Here is a link to the Symbaloo webmix that was created for everyone who attended the NGL day on December 1st. Symbaloo is a fantastic way to curate apps and websites. When you create a Symbaloo webmix you are simply adding links to sites and the app store. Users of a webmix just app on the tabs an are taken directly to the desired site. It’s like keeping a page of bookmarks about one topic all in one place. If you want to search the website there are thousands of public webmixes for you to use.


Not a Secret: Code!

As the week that was ‘An Hour Of Code’ came and went, 10’s of millions of students were engaged in coding activities of every shape, size and entCoding Botry point. A self-proclaimed ‘non-coder’, I took it upon myself to engage my class in coding activities from the only entry point I knew – stories.

We began with a cursory conversation around coding language, and the students quickly schooled me on their awareness that computers speak in a series of ones and zeros, and that there are no room for inferences. We had some fun with that one, programming human movement in, around, and outside the classroom. Movements that required background information and inferences quickly became comical.

From there we transferred our written language ‘code’ into Hopscotch, using coding blocks to replicate the movements and tasks that we had our classmates perform. Truthfully, some of the output looked a little less than complex – but the fact of the matter is, we completed tasks in a coding environment that met a need.

Our journey is just beginning, and we currently moving toward flow charts that create a ‘choose-your-own-adventure’ story through a series of If/Then statements which we will then input into a coding app. I am looking forward to the results!

If you are looking to justify the movement to code, here are a number of skills that your students will use, gain and improve upon by experimenting with coding:

  • learning is a process and not a product
  • take complex ideas and break them down into simpler parts
  • collaborate with others
  • how to keep persistent and persevere in the face of frustration
  • become fluent with technologies
  • express ideas in new environments
  • demonstrate creativity in problem solving and the product/output

So, jump in, have fun, and allow the students to lead the way by sharing in the teaching and learning of coding in your classroom. If you’re looking for resources, check out my tweets from this week. I’ve included some great links to some rich resources.


Liquid Text PDF

This app is designed to help readers manage the text they are reading. It offers a number of powerful tools and a set of built-in videos that get students using the app proficiently in a few easy steps. This is one of those great “productivity” apps that can be used by any level of student, with any level of text, in any subject area.

They can download a piece of text from anywhere (internet, Google Drive, PDF). Then, using the app, you can support Active reading. Highlight and annotate excerpts. Take notes, gather excerpts, colour-code notes, compare pages and search the text for sources and information. You can highlight text, make a comment/ note, and then collect your comments.

This is a great app for developing active reading skills. The more time I work with it, the more I like it. Here are a link to app store and the company website.

Liquid Text

Liquid Text PDF

Making the Digitally Temporary, Permanent

What if you could capture a moment in beautiful plastic? What if that Haiku you just wrote for your teacher could be frozen in luxurious 3D printed form?

Well, thanks to some really nice teachers at FE Madill in Wingham, now your 3D printing dreams can come true. If you are a teacher and you have some students who have written something – you’re in!

Here’s what you do:

Step 1 : Have a few of your students write a brief piece, or find something they have written before (it can be up to 144 characters, like a Tweet – perhaps a short poem, a joke, a memorable post on their blog) A (very short) piece of written work that you think should be captured in 3D because it was hilarious or deep or just captured the idea perfectly. I love for my really, really, really short stories.

Step 2: Email me with a list of these wonderful tidbits – include the writing, the name of the students, colour choices (

Step 3: Wait for the 3D printed artifacts of learning to be couriered to your school. It is that easy!

This is a way to use digital technology to make 3D, real world examples of student work. We are accepting the first three emails as part of a pilot project. I will post back here when we have our three orders. Thanks.

A Great Starting Point


As much as we often try to steer the conversation away from a lengthy list of apps, and more toward the pedagogy involved, we do understand the need for a well-stocked tool box.

If you need a place to start, try this EdTechTeacher resources to search out Apps based on academic subject, topic, or learning activity.


Go Formative

While at the Ed Tech Teacher iPad Summit in Boston, one of the  presenters (Greg Kulowiec) introduced us to an online assessment tool called Go Formative – Initially,  I wasn’t overly interested in it – it seemed to do essentially the same things as Nearpod, which I use regularly, and I didn’t see a reason to learn a whole new platform.  


A few hours spent playing around with Go Formative and now I see how much more this platform offers than I originally thought.

What does Go Formative offer that I use all the time in Nearpod??

  • I can still create all the same types of questions that I use in Nearpod, (Short Answer, Multiple Choice, Draw It or “Show Your Work” as  it is called in Go Formative)
  • my students can still access the assignment with a code (rather than having to set up an account and log in)  although there are other advantages to having students log in and join your classes
  • Like Nearpod, Go Formative keeps electronic versions of student answers stored in my account, so that I can go back and revisit them any time
  • I can still place an image on the student canvas and have students draw or write on top of it

So…. What does Go Formative (which is completely free) offer that is not currently available in the free version of Nearpod?

  • students can proceed through the questions at their own pace, rather than wait for me to send them each question
  • I can see student work “live” – that is, I don’t have to wait for them to submit it – I can see what they’re writing, typing, drawing, etc. as they complete the task, and intervene if I see a need
  • I can provide written feedback, and assign a grade if I want to
  • I can share assignments with other teachers (a feature that appears to be available in the free Nearpod, but I haven’t been able to figure out how to do it )
  • I can add multiple and varied reference tools, anywhere on the assignment – that is, I can add an image, (which I can also do in Nearpod, but I can only add 1 reference image per question), a video (adding YouTube Videos is only available in the paid version of Nearpod) or a reference document if I want students to be able to access specific information when completing the task
  • I can export results to a CSV 
  • I can share student work anonymously to be used a springboard for discussion

It’s not a case of either or… I will still use Nearpod  when I want to be in complete control of what appears on my students’ devices,  and when I want to share student work directly to the iPads.  (Go Formative allows me to project student work to a Smartboard, but doesn’t have the “Share” feature that Nearpod has that sends student work, anonymously, directly to other users logged into the session.)

I’m still an avid fan of Nearpod, but  Go Formative offers a host of options that I want to access when I’m engaged in assessing my students’ knowledge and understanding of concepts.

Check it out at – the main page has a link to video tutorials – 1-minute explanations of how to use the various features.

Unpacking our Learning

TPACKThe last few learning sessions  that we, as an NGL group, have shared together have been quite inspiring! The ‘adult-learning model’ or ‘go where you grow’ philosophy, combined with the energy created when like-minded people share their expertise and ask questions of each other, has generated some real excitement for the teaching and learning we are doing as a team.

As you continue to unpack your learning, feel free to reach out to your Tech Coaches and peers to push forward with new and exciting ways to engage your students and make their learning more visible.

When we look at our classrooms through the TPACK lens, and reflect on our practices in a way that continually combine our content and pedagogical expertise with new and emerging technologies, we begin to see real change.


With respect to the SAMR model, it’s okay to begin by substituting tech strategies, or augmenting your existing tasks and assignments. But as we move forward together, ask yourself how you can consider transformational practices that move toward Modification and Redefinition through the use of 21st century strategies. And remember, it’s not just the tasks you are considering, but the ways that individual students can transform their learning (with respect to the SAMR model) one task at a time. That is, by differentiating the process and the product, you allow students to redefine their learning in a way that is personal and meaningful to them.

In the meantime, stay connected. Share your learning. Ask questions. Release some of the control and responsibilities to your students. And most of all, have fun trying something new!

Looking for new ideas and resources? Follow me on Twitter!