Digital Bytes | Common Sense Media

Hmmm. This is worth a closer look. I know that Commen Sense media has some amazing lesson plans for within the class. It looks like these offerings are more student-led (air at least students can access and do them on their own) and shorter. It might be another tool to keep the Digital Citizenship conversation on line.

Also, I learned a new word: slacktivist. I think you can guess what that means (online petition signing, anyone?)

Here is a quick video tutorial:

Common Sense Media improves the lives of kids and families by providing independent reviews, age ratings, & other information about all types of media.


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‘We want to talk about sex’: Grade 8 girls push for Ontario sex-ed reforms to include the concept of consent

This caught my eye last week as I have been thinking about how to balance the need to keep our daughters safe online with the need for them to be able to have a voice online. This shouldn’t be a problem, right? The internet has the potential for being a democratic, inclusive space. And yet…As the events of the last year have shown  (Gamergate, the Dalhousie debacle, and the list goes on…) there is an increasing need to educate our youth about consent. The fact that this push is coming from two teenagers is akin to being bashed on the head with a mallet. here is just a small excerpt of the journalist’s interview with the two teens:

Kathleen Wynne used the words “interpersonal ability and intelligence.” What does that mean?

Valente: It’s learning how to read people, which is important. People think it’s common sense but you can’t necessarily tell if someone is completely comfortable. They should talk about it in schools: facial expressions and what they mean connected to emotions. And body language: What it means when someone’s shoulders are stiff when you’re hugging them. It’s about developing good relationships.

I have shivers. Oh, and a renewed hope for the fate of humanity…

As Ontario plans an update of its outdated sexual-education curriculum, a pair of 13-year-olds want to make sure their lessons will include the concept of consent


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iPad Challenge: Text to Speech follow-up

IN honour of our amazing students who came to show our Staff how they use various text to speech apps on their iPads, here is the revised post on how to turn on the built-in text to speech option on the iPad. Although I wrote this tutorial last year, it has changed slightly with iOS8.


Sec. I student teaching the teachers on how she uses WordQ and Prizmo.

Go to settings –> Accessibility

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Tap on Speech:

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Turn on Speak selection. This means that when you are in most apps as well as online you will be able to select text and have it read to you. One of the students in our presentation listened to a whole book in iBooks using this device.

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Highlight text: Another student highlighted the Highlight feature (see what I did there?). She finds this especially useful when reading texts for science or History.

The Speak screen function is new. It allows you to have a whole page read instantly:

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We discovered during this morning’s session that the text to speech also works on texts uploaded to the portal. However, it didn’t work on a PDF in explain Everything.

The Most Effective Way to Take Notes in Class | Edudemic

I am not sure how many teachers talk about note-taking strategies in their class – I know I talk about different methods when giving sessions on plagiarism and how to avoid it.

This article provides some great pointers to share with your students on how to take notes in class. Personally, I  am a total “dynamic Outline” kind of gal!

Also, we have talked about the pros and cons of typing rather than writing notes. For some, effective note-taking takes place on paper, for others they prefer to type. Either way, it doesn’t make our technology less useful or the paper and pencil people luddites. There’s room for all kinds!

Check it out!


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rAPPido review: Coggle (mind mapping application)

Screen Shot 2015-02-06 at 9.54.47 AMI was idly perusing my RSS feed as is my wont on a chilly Friday morning, and I came across a review of this little gem called Coggle. It is an online mind mapping software, one I suspect that is part of the google app village.

Price: free

What is it? First thing’s first: it is not an app that you will get from the iTunes store. It is web-based, so you need to access it via your browser. It is however, a mind-mapping app.

How does it work? As it turns out, pretty easily.

1. Sign in via your google account:

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I love it when it does that – that means one less password I have to remember.

2. Start creating!:

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Let me just mention that Coggle works on all platforms,whether you are using your laptop or the iPad. I am going to give you the iPad interface in this review.

3. I had a bit of difficulties getting started at the beginning. For some reason, the “tap here toy begin” toggle wasn’t working though I could create branches from it:

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I couldn’t edit the text in the default field.But I could add stuff:

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Another weird thing was that the first branch I created was larger than the others and I couldn’t figure out why:

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However, these are small glitches which I am sure will not be there every time. In fact, I worked it to my advantage by creating sub-branches:

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Pretty, isn’t it?

The branches are easy to move around, delete, zoom in and even change the colour:

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But that isn’t the best part of Coggle. Where it really shines is that it works like a google doc in terms of collaboration – you can invite people to your Coggle and everyone can edit in real time:

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You can download it as an image to your camera roll:

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Ot, if you choose the PDF option, you can open it in any app that accepts PDFs:

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As well, you can copy and paste the link (again, just like a google doc) and send it to your students. Or your students can easily share it with you:

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Oh! And you can also check out past revisions:

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Best of all? You can save your Coggles to Google drive! Just click on that minuscule text you see on your homepage:

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Just a warning, here – it took me a while to figure out that by clicking that link, it automatically added my Coggle to the Google drive. I got stuck in trying to create folders and getting a bit lost. But, when I thought to look in my drive, it was right there!

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This is a wonderful resources for group collaborations, brainstorming or even for note-taking for the more visual among us!

OLA CONFERENCE HIGHLIGHT: OSAPAC’s Digital Citizenship resources

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One of the reasons why I wanted to attend the OLA (Ontario Library Association) Super Conference (Yep. It’s called the Super conference, mainly because it includes sessions for public, academic, school and special libraries) is because of the vast amount of sessions dedicated to school libraries.

I was not disappointed. As we all know, one of the many bees in my bonnet is the importance of guiding our students in the online world. I am always looking for ways to keep the Digital Citizenship conversation alive with our students, whether it be about plagiarism or privacy.

On my first day at the conference I attended a session that introduced the OSAPAC’s (Ontario Software Acquisition Program Advisory Committee) hub for all things Digital Citizenship and was very impressed. As you can see by the image above, it is well-designed, simple and easy to use. But don’t be fooled by the clean interface – this website contains loads of information.

Click on an icon and you get this page:

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It is divided by grade level and includes a Resources section with hyperlinks to information, lesson plans and videos on the subject from other reliable organizations by category:

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The best part though is the Classroom Connections section:

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These are very detailed ways in which you can integrate the issues and skills of Digital Citizenship seamlessly into the curriculum, whether it be a history or science class.

Each Classroom Connection contains 5 sections:

Authentic Task:

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Digital Citizenship Development:

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Curriculum Content:

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Now of course, this connects to the Ontario curriculum, but I am sure there will be many crossovers.


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Technology Integration Resources:

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I love this. This is just one lesson plan in one of the sections. Apparently, they will also be adding more resources periodically.  It is beautifully laid out, gives you all the information that you need and deals with digital citizenship skills and actual classroom concepts all in one beautiful package.

Check it out and see how you can integrate Digital Citizenship skill into your classroom!

rAPPido Review: Mendeley (reference manager)

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As promised, I have begun looking at reference managers for the iPad. The reason? To give our students easy-to-use tools for citation and bibliography creation so that they are prepared for Cegep and University. It is never too early to install good academic practices!

My criteria is a little different as we are a high school and not a University. Most of our students do not write research-heavy essays. Most of their research needs are satisfied by general reference sources articles online.

Yet it is still important that they know how to properly cite their sources.

I am looking for a lightweight tool that:

  1. Allows students to collect all their sources from websites, youtube videos, online encyclopedias and even print books (through a barcode scanner) and quickly format them into a bibliography.
  2. Is easy to use and intuitive. To be able to search via Safari or Chrome and have a bookmarklet that saves the article and its metadata to the app.
  3. Allows students to import and export articles and information with ease.

That is all good and fine, but a lot of the apps are heavy-weight, reference managers like EndNote and are very expensive. I am very cheap, so I thought I would begin with the free app.

What is it? Mendeley is a Reference Manager application that works on your computer as well as your iPad. It will collect all your online sources and keep them in one place. It is also supposed to help you with your citations and bibliography, but more on that below.

Price: free

Does it meet my criteria? The iPad app does not. The free desktop version allows you to add a plug-in to word and add citations and bibliographies really niftily:

See the upper toolbar that says Insert or Edit citation? That takes you straight to the Mendeley application on your desktop and allows you to choose the article you want to cite:

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Here is my MLA citation:

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The bibliography was as easy as clicking “Insert Bibliography”:

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But for the iPad? Nope. Although I took a lot of screenshots in order to write this review, I don’t think I will bother showing you as it became very clear after I set up my account andf the bookmarklet in Safari that allowed my to add the article to the app, that this tool did not do what I needed it to do. In fact, there is nothing that the Mendeley app doesn’t do that Diigo doesn’t do. In Fact, the Diigo browser app is free and allows you to search the internet whiteout having to leave the app.

Although Mendeley works wonders on the desktop in terms of adding citations and bibliographies, the iPad app does not have the same functionality. Its purpose is really as a lightweight companion, one where you can access your articles and annotate them while on the go, then as a direct substitution you get on a computer.

The Best Citation and Bibliography Apps for Student Researchers and Academics ~ Educational Technology and Mobile Learning

When I was at the OLA conference last week, I stopped by the Papers 3 booth. It is an app to help University students with their research. Here is the little blurb from their website:

Papers helps you collect and curate the research material that you’re passionate about. From citations to search, Papers will improve the way you find, organize, read, cite and share.

After talking to the very nice women, I realized that this kind of tool is a little too sophisticated (not to mention expensive) for our needs. But it occurred to me that it would be really useful to have an app like the software used in Universities (Endnote, etc.) to help gather research materials and then collate bibliographies. As we attempt to arm our students with the necessary skills needed to properly cite their sources and avoid plagiarism, it might behoove us to put a research/citation app on the required list for students.

As a preliminary to the search for the best tool for us, I found this handy dandy site that lists the top apps for this category. Although there are a few free ones, most of them you have to pay so I will be picking and choosing carefully during the following week and giving each a whirl. Stay tuned!


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When Women Stopped Coding

A friend of mine shared this article and I gotta say, I had one of those forehead-slapping Bart Simpson moments.

Here is the graph they are talking about:

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Now see if you can guess what happened in the mid-80s to plummet the upward trend of women in computer science… It is so simple and horrifying it will make you want to tear out your hair.

For decades, the share of women majoring in computer science was rising. Then, in the 1980s, something changed.


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