Thursday, October 12, 2017

St. Rose Catholic Elementary School is going FULL STEAM AHEAD

Staff and students at St. Rose Catholic Elementary School in Windsor, Ontario are excited to go FULL STEAM AHEAD in 2017/2018.  After applying and being accepted for a TLLP (Teacher Learning and Leadership Program), teachers have committed to identifying and sharing ways that they are embedding coding and robotics into their classroom curriculum.

Teachers will be embedding the Scratch Coding app, Beebots, Dash & Dot Robots, and Makey Makey kits into their curriculum and sharing their experiences and task cards for each activity on their FULL STEAM AHEAD blog.

Students in Mrs. Sidi's Grade 3 class began experimenting with length using Beebots.    Students were instantly engaged as they worked collaboratively to determine how far the Beebot travelled with each move began building their track.

Click HERE to access the Bees on Track Task Card.  Please feel free to "make a copy" and make it your own.  We would love for you to share your version back with us in the comments below.

Each group tackled the challenge in a slightly different way.  Groups shared their thinking on paper and recorded their code on THIS WORKSHEET prior to programming Buzzy.

Once students calculate the distance travelled by a single command, they applied their understanding of multiplication and addition to create the right size track for the challenge.  They were eager to make variations of the track and include tunnels and additional turns.  The students were eager to collaboratively write and debug their code to complete the challenge. 

*This activity could also be used with Dash (Wonder Workshop) and Sphero.

This site will be an excellent resource as teachers will be posting easy to follow task cards through the year.  FULL STEAM AHEAD blog.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Google Drive - Not Going Anywhere!


There are many articles similar to the link above that talk about "Google Drive" being discontinued.  Google Drive as we know it is NOT being discontinued.  You do not have to worry about your files or anything to do with MyTools2Go and Google Drive.

Google offers software to access all of your Google Drive content on your Mac or PC without using a web browser.  Your files can be synced or "backed up" on your hard drive as well as the internet.  Google is updating the software called "Google Drive" with new and better technology called "Backup and Sync"  which will do more and use less disk space.  If you never used this software you still do not need it.

If you choose to use that software you can but accessing your files through a web browser will not change.

Thank you


Saturday, June 17, 2017

End of Year Google Classroom Clean-up Tips

As the school year winds down, most teachers go through some sort of check-out procedure for their physical classrooms, making sure everything is properly organized or put away for the summer. In much the same way, you may want to do some clean-up and close-out steps for your digital classroom ... Google Classroom.

Google Classroom is a powerful tool to help you and your students collaborate and communicate, but when used year after year, it can start to become a bit of a mess and a management challenge. To help with this, there are several suggestions to consider for Classroom when wrapping up the school year.

See below for six steps that may help you clean up your Classroom as you transition from one school year to the next. However, keep in mind these are all just suggestions and each is optional. While some may not apply to your situation, hopefully several will assist you in keeping your Classroom organized, clutter-free, and efficient for a new year.

Tip #1 - Return all student work

One of the great features of Google Classroom is how it streamlines the process for turning in work. When a student turns in an assignment, Google automatically changes the sharing permissions on the file (or files), making you the owner and reducing the student's rights to view-only. This is helpful for grading, but you don't want to leave it this way.

When done grading an assignment you want to make sure to return the files to your students, so the ownership of the files will revert back to the students. This is especially critical if later you decide to clean up your Drive and delete old files. If you are still the owner of the students' work, when you delete it, you are really deleting the file. However, if you have returned the files, you are no longer the owner, so if you delete them, all it does is remove them from your Drive.

So, one of the first tips to consider is to make sure you have properly returned all the Classroom assignments to your students. One way to do this would be:

  • Click the menu button in the top left corner of Classroom
  • Choose "Work" from the drop-down menu.
  • This will show you all of the assignments from all of your classes.
  • You can narrow it down to just one class at a time if needed by choosing a class from the "All classes" drop-down menu at the top.
  • For each assignment you can click on the "Done" link to view the student submissions.

  • You can now look for any student work that is marked as "Done" rather than "Returned".

  • Select those students, add a grade if still needed, and click the "Return" button at the top to return them to the students.
  • When done checking an assignment you can go back to the "Work" page and move it into the "Reviewed" section by clicking the three-dots menu and choosing "Mark as reviewed".
  • Repeat as needed.

Tip #2 - Un-enroll students from old classes

Another possible clean-up step is to remove students from the old classes. This may be an option for you if you prefer not to have students accessing content from your class in the future.

For example, this could be for academic integrity issues if you do not want students showing certain course content to new classes in future years. Of course, no cheating-prevention solution is guaranteed, as students can always find many ways around preventative measures. Still though, it is an option that may help.

If you decide you would like to unenroll students from old courses, you can do the following:

  • Open the course and go to the "Students" tab.
  • Check the box at the top to select all the students in the class.
  • Click the "Actions" button.
  • Choose "Remove" from the drop-down menu.

Tip #3 - Archive old classes

When you are done with a class, a good way to clean up Classroom is to archive the old classes. Archiving is a process that:

  • Removes the class from your main Classroom home page (making your page cleaner and easier to navigate).
  • Freezes the class so no new changes can be made to it (especially helpful if you choose not to remove students from the old classes).
  • Still allows you to copy and reuse old posts and assignments from the archived class in your new classes.

To archive an old class, do the following:

  • Go to the home page of Classroom
  • Click the three-dots menu in the top right corner of the "card" for the class you wish to archive.
  • Then click "Archive" from the drop-down menu.
  • You will now get a pop-up window asking you to verify that you want to archive the class. Click "Archive" again to verify.

If you ever need to un-archive a class, you can do so as follows:

  • From the home page of Classroom, click the menu button in the top left.
  • Scroll down to the bottom of the drop-down menu and choose "Archived Classes".
  • Click the three-dots menu in the top right corner of the "card" for the class you wish to un-archive.
  • Then click "Restore" from the drop-down menu.
  • You will now get a pop-up window asking you to verify that you want to restore the class. Click "Restore" again to verify.

Tip #4 - Remove old class calendars

When you create a class in Google Classroom, and then make assignments with due dates, this automatically creates a Google Calendar for the class. This is a convenient way for your and your students to go to Google Calendar and see upcoming due dates for classwork and projects throughout the course of the school year.

However, when the year is over and the class is done, you don't really need that calendar showing up anymore. If you have a number of classes, they can quickly clutter up your calendar list. Thankfully there are a couple of easy options for removing the calendars for old classes.

  • Go to Google Calendar.
  • You should see the names of your classes in the list under "My calendars" on the left side of the screen.
  • To remove an old class calendar you will need to access that calendar's settings.
  • Click the small down-arrow to the right of the class name in the "My calendars" list.
  • If you just want to hide the class calendar from your list, simply click "Hide this calendar from the list".
  • If instead you want to delete the calendar, click "Calendar settings".
  • You can now scroll down to the bottom of the calendar details screen and click "Permanently delete this calendar".
  • This will open a pop-up window asking you to confirm the deletion.

Tip #5 - Move old class folders in Drive

Because Google Classroom automates the sharing and collaborating process, it is easy to forget what is actually going on behind the scenes in Google Drive. For each class you create in Google Classroom, a folder gets created in your Google Drive where all of the assignment documents and other files are stored.

Now you may never open that Classroom folder in Drive, so this tip may not apply to you at all. However, you may choose to browse that folder as another option for easy access to all your students' submitted work. If that is the case, the "Classroom" folder in your Drive can get pretty crowded over the years.

If it helps, you are allowed to move class folders to a new location in your Drive, so only the current class folders are easily visible. Here's how:

  • Go to Google Drive and select the "Classroom" folder.
  • If you do not already have a place to move the old class folders, create a new folder by clicking "New" and "New folder".
  • Name it something like "Archive" or "Old Classes" or such.
  • You can now simply drag and drop the old class folders into the new folder you have created. 

Moving class folders does not interfere with their use in Google Classroom in any way. It simply cleans up your "Classroom" folder to make it easier for you to find current classes, if so desired.

Tip #6 - Remove old class files from "Shared with me" in Drive

When files get shared as part of a Classroom assignment, sometimes the files will also show up in the "Shared with me" area of your Google Drive. If you have a lots of students and lot of assignments, this can cause quite a mess in "Shared with me".

Now I am of the philosophy that it is not really worth the fight to try to keep "Shared with me" clean or organized in any way. I tend to think of it as Grand Central Station and just accept the fact that it will always be a mess.

However, if you really want to clean up "Shared with me" you are allowed to remove files from there. So you may want to consider getting rid of old files from this year's classes.

First though, two quick but important notes:

  • Make sure you have returned all the assignments to your students first before you delete anything out of "Shared with me" (see Tip #1 above). Remember that you actually become the owner of a file when a student turns it into you. If you have not returned the file yet, then you are technically the owner of the file, and if you delete the file, it really gets deleted.
  • On the other hand, if you are not the owner of a file, and you delete it from "Shared with me" it does not really delete the file. It simply removes it from the "Shared with me" list. The file will still show up in your "Classroom" folders, even when you remove it from "Shared with me".

To remove a file from "Shared with me" do the following:
  • Go to Google Drive.
  • Click "Shared with me" on the left.
  • Select the file (or files) you wish to remove.
  • Now you can click on the "Remove" icon in the top toolbar (looks like a trashcan).
  • Or right-click on the file(s) and choose "Remove".
  • The file(s) will now be removed from "Shared with me".


Google Classroom is a wonderful tool to help you and your students share documents, have discussions, access resources, and more. However, even something as useful as Classroom can become cluttered and less efficient if we fail to manage it well. Hopefully some of the tips shared above will be useful for you, and will help keep your Classroom running smoothly.

If you have other suggestions for end-of-year clean-up and management of Classroom, please share them in the comments below.

Check out @ericcurts website Control Alt Achieve for many more informative "how-to" resources.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

WECDSBcodes Challenge 4: Procedural Writing Smash Up

Students will design a path, describe it using procedural writing prompts and then measure the path taken using standard and non-standard units of measure.

Exploring By The Seat Of Your Pants

I have had the pleasure to sit in on some of the hangouts hosted by Exploring By The Seat of Your Pants.  As stated on their website, "The primary goal of Exploring By the Seat Of Your Pants is to knockdown classroom walls and take students anywhere in the world, never having to leave their desks.  We aim to accomplish this by connecting students with exciting guest speakers and virtual field trips from around the world.  Our focus is providing lessons related to science, adventure and conversation, but won't be limited to these areas!"

There are still camera spots available for some of their May events, you can check them out below:

The Turtle Hospital
May 15th @ 11:00am EST
Camera Spots Remaining: 5
The Turtle Hospital opened its doors 1986 with four main goals: 1) rehab injured sea turtles and return them to their natural habitat, 2) educate the public through outreach programs and visit local schools, 3) conduct and assist with research aiding to sea turtles and 4) work toward environmental legislation making the beaches and water safe and clean for sea turtles.
YouTube Live Link: 

Len Vanderstar: Summits of Canada Expedition
May 18th @ 1:00pm EST
Camera Spots Remaining: 5
Len is an experienced adventurer and expedition coordinator with a solid safety track record. Barbeau Peak, Nunavut will be the last Canadian highpoint in the Summits of Canada quest by Len, scheduled for June 16 -29, 2017. To date, no Canadian has reached each provincial and territorial high point. Completing Canada's highpoints in 2017 times perfectly with Canada's 150th celebration, and we wish to take advantage of this unique year in further promoting Canada's diverse geography, its people and culture.
David Makepeace: Eclipse Guy
May 30th @ 1:00pm EST
Camera Spots Remaining: 5

David has witnessed 22 eclipses in 15 countries on 7 continents and he's continuously planning exotic adventures to strange and wonderful places on the Earth to stand in the shadow of the Moon! Since 1991, he has chased eclipses of all kinds to every corner of the globe – from India to Brazil, Antarctica to Libya, Mexico to China. For millions upon millions of people the eclipse in America on August 21, 2017, will be the best chance to see a Total Eclipse of the Sun in this lifetime. 

Monday, May 8, 2017

Increasing Your Digital Responsibility - Protect Yourself

Increase Your Digital Responsibility - Protect Yourself

Attempts from Hackers to steal your private information are getting more and more aggressive all the time.  Our IT Department filters out thousands of email a day containing malicious files, spam, and other unwanted garbage.

No matter how good our filter is some email gets through that you need to be on the look out for.  More than 70% of emails sent are spam.

4 Main types of attacks:

1:  The Imposter: Spoofing

These messages are designed to look legitimate and almost identical to the real thing.  There are some very easy tips to identifying the fakes! Look below in "What Can I do?"

For more information click here:

2:  The Sharp Shooter: Spear Phishing

Phishing attacks and spear phishing have much in common, including the shared goal of manipulating victims into exposing sensitive information. Spear phishing attacks differ from typical phishing attacks in that they are more targeted and personalized in order to increase chances of fooling recipients. Attackers will gather publicly available information on targets prior to launching a spear phishing attack and will use those personal details to impersonate targets’ friends, relatives, coworkers or other trusted contacts.

For more information click here:

3:   The Scorch the Earther: Generic Phishing

Very general messages containing poor grammar and no real content. These are sent out through mass emailing.  Most of these are filter but they can sneak through. They may not fool you but they can fool our younger users!

For more information click here:

4:  Google Docs:

Hackers are now trying to send emails asking you to open a shared google doc. When users open the shared doc they are asked to accept the permissions.  The doc is not actually a google doc at all.  The unknowing user just gave away access to your contacts and now many other bad emails will be sent from your account.  Google has since closed this hole and added another security layer.
Click HERE:

How do you protect yourself?  Verify the address of the person sharing with you?  Do you know them?Is it a account?  When you share a doc with someone you don't need to accept any permissions.  Just close the tab and delete the email!


At the very minimum when dealing with unsolicited email or email from financial institutions look at the URL (link) to see where you are being pointed. Just put your mouse cursor on the link the email wants you to click on and you will see the link in the bottom left of the screen.  You can practice on any link on this blog!  

Be wary if the link does NOT have https:// or include the company name in the FIRST domain.

For example or

TIP: When accessing financial institutions access them using your own proven link.  

David Petro has an informative slide show from his FAKE NEWS presentation on April 28th that is also a great resource to protect yourself and spot these attacks and more!

Take the Google Security Checkup!

This will quickly walk you through all the permissions you have granted outside software and websites to use.  You can remove access and add them back later if necessary.  If you don't recognize the site REMOVE it!  You can also remove access from any Computer you may have used in the past and accidently allowed it to save your information.

Complete this check up with both your personal Gmail account and your  account.

If you do have questions do not be hesitate to contact the IT Department for assistance!