Digital Backpack

SPS Digital Backpack

 A digital backpack is mobile technology in backpack that includes detailed hardware, software, and instructional support materials to provide for project-based learning experiences in various formal and informal environments.


 Digital Backpack Support Documents (posters):

May 22, 2014

Visual Representations

Convey Ideas Through Visual Representations

Define: Why Visual Learning?

Discover: Power of Images

Design: Create

Define: Compare and Contrast

Discover: Visual Representation Tool Smackdown

There are many software programs, Web 2.0 tools, and apps that teachers can use to challenge and support visual learners.

Visual Search Engines – Visual learners may find visual search engines easier when researching information online.

  • InstaGrok - Collects educational content and displays it in the form of a cloud of related words, Offers variety of multimedia features to meet the unique learning needs of students; Users can adjust the level of difficulty of results; Search given out as Key facts, Websites, videos, images, quizzes, concepts; Save all of your information to a  journal-highlight text, make notes.
  • Oolone – Visual search engine that displays results as web preview; Scroll over the images to get a closer look at the site before actually selecting it; A quicker and more efficient way to search; Students can instantly recognize familiar sites and rule out unreliable sources.
  • Other Search Engines

Graphic Organizers and Timelines – Visual learners appreciate the concise visual representations.  These tools can be used by teachers to share information visually or by students to represent their learning.

  • Inspiration/Kidspiration (software) - Both are  great tools for teaching kids how to think, brainstorm, organize, analyze and write.
  • (Web 2.0 tool) – Enables users to create mind mapping and brainstorming diagrams online.
  • Coggle (Web 2.0 tool)-  A new, collaborative mind-mapping service that is very easy to use with just signing-in with your Google account and click the “+” icon to start your mind map. You can invite others to view and edit your mind maps by sending them an email through Coggle. All Coggle mind maps can be downloaded as PDFs or PNG image files.
  •  Popplet (app)- Helps students think and learn visually.
  • Timelines tools (Web 2.0 tools)


  • Glogster (Web 2.0 tool) – Glogs are interactive, multimedia posters.
  • Smore (Web 2.0 tool) – Online flyers


  • GoAnimate  (Web 2.0 tool)- Creating animated videos is a great way for visual learners to create projects.
  • PowToon (Web 2.0 tool)


Making Movies/Digital Storytelling

  • Photostory 3  (software)- A quick and easy way for visual learners to share their  new learning and they enjoy  creating documentaries and creating digital “books” of their stories.
  • Microsoft Movie Maker  (software)– Many visual learners think in “movies” and are very successful  creating movies for projects or to demonstrate what they’ve learned.
  • Pixie  (software) - Students can share their learning through  a combination of text, original artwork, voice narration, and images.
  • iMovie (app) – Makes movie-making fast!
  • Narrable – (Web 2.0 tool & app)



-Video sharing sites provide teachers with educational video clips that can help visual learners grasp complex concepts.


Google Earth  –  Visual learners benefit from mapping out important locations and seeing (street view, images) historical settings, locations in a book, and places they are learning about.  Google Earth can help students visual landforms (i.e. river deltas), view changes on Earth and even visit the moon.

GeoGuessr - Let’s explore the world! GeoGuessr is a geography game which takes you on a journey around the world and challenges your ability to recognize your surroundings

World Wonders -Brings to life the wonders of the modern and ancient world


* Feedback and Feedforward

April 30, 2014

Leaving Tracks of your Thinking – Reading Digitally

One of the ways we can understand what are students are thinking as they read is to have them leave tracks of their thinking or annotate a text.  Sometimes we do this leaving tracks using sticky notes or highlighting tape, however when we are reading online, we can’t leave those tracks using these tools.  There are a number of digital tools which we can use to leave track when we are reading digital information.  Evernote and Diigo can perform this function if you want your students to sign up for their own profiles.  The other advantage to the online tools, is being able to access them from any computer anywhere.   If you want to have your students experience digital text annotation but don’t want to sign up for individual accounts, Adobe Acrobat also allows mark up of webpages if you convert the webpage to a PDF.   The following two videos will give some start up ‘how-to’ help for teachers and students.

How-to Make a PDF

How-to Annotate a PDF

Some other support materials to help your work can be found here.

December 2, 2013

Visual Representation

Creating and selecting strong visual images to represent your learning forms an important part of a student’s digital backpack.  All a student needs to create their own images is a camera and possibly some simple editing software.  Here are some tools for using when working with students to create, select and cite images.

Tool Links

Photo Editing

Editing and Sharing and Citing

Selecting and Citing


November 12, 2013

Inquiry – Building An Inquiry Environment

The Saskatchewan Ministry of Education’s renewed curricula emphasizes the development of an inquiry stance – the fostering of “inquiring habits of mind that lead to deeper understanding of their world and human experience” (Saskatchewan English Language Arts Curriculum 2009).

As curricula advocates a “shift from a transmission-oriented pedagogy to a more open, inquiry-based mode of teaching and learning” (Bruce and Bishop, 2002), the ideal learning environment must now be characterized as flexible and adaptive to the changing needs of the learners. The construction of learning must be communal and dynamic, welcoming and valuing each member’s experiences and perspectives. Learning, due to its non-linear structure and student focus, is “messy” as learners critically investigate their unique questions apply understandings to new situations, create new knowledge, share learnings, and participate ethically and productively, using diverse methods and media. This active search for meaning and understanding undergirds inquiry.

An Overview

Teacher-librarians Constructing Understanding through Inquiry, also called the Inquiry Project, is a strategic partnership between the Saskatchewan School Library Association (SSLA), a special subject council of the Saskatchewan Teachers Federation, and the Ministry of Education. Together, the SSLA and the Ministry of Education have worked to identify and support Saskatchewan educators’ understanding and use of inquiry for teaching and learning.

Inquiry of Inquiry: Frontloading Our Understanding

What is Inquiry?  Examining an Inquiry Approach vs. a Coverage Approach


Frontloading Inquiry

Curating Our Understanding



Becoming Information Fluent


Removing Barriers to Comprehension


Developing Digital Citizens


Communicating and Collaborating




Go Public

Sharing Our Learning


Sharing Our Work

The SPS Inquiry Circles wiki displays inquiry projects created by Saskatoon Public Schools’ learning cohorts.



Harvey, Stephanie, and Harvey Daniels. Comprehension & collaboration: inquiry circles in action. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2009. Print.

McTighe, Jay. Essential questions opening doors to student understanding.. Alexandria: Assn Supervn & Curr Dev, 2013. Print.

November 4, 2013

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