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

Crafting Digital Writing

Today, there are more people writing every day — e-mails, text messages, blog posts — and more self-published authors than ever before. But unlike when traditional writing, digital writing is public, globally connected through hyperlinks, and easily shared and remixed. Digital writing can a blog post,  e-mail correspondence, a text message, a tweet,  a Facebook update, or a conversation on Tumblr. It can be comments on blog posts, responses to news articles, or book reviews shared on GoodReads. It can have a  traditional look such as poems posted on the web, self-published works on LuLu and iBooks, or short stories uploaded to an online ‘zine.

In his book, Crafting Digital Writing, Dr. Troy Hicks explores the questions of how to teach digital writing by examining author’s craft, demonstrating how intentional thinking about author’s craft in digital texts engages students in writing that is grounded in their digital lives. Digital writing involves understanding the underlying grammar, features and structure of the mode and crafting an online, public  media form suited for an intended audience.

Noticing Author’s Craft

The following tools can be used help students prewrite/draft by annotating the author’s craft.


Formative Assessment

Formative assessment of students’ ability to embed the structure and features into narratives can be conducted through quick writes including, OneWord.

Distinguishing Between Modes

The modes/purposes of writing are description, narration, exposition  (informational) and persuasion (argumentative). Writers must make thoughtful decisions about topic, audience and purpose when creating text. Attention to purpose or “why am I writing” and “”who am I writing to”, directs the writer to identify a mode of writing best suited to deliver the intended message.

Using Padlet  distinguish between the modes of writing.  Think about the difference between the texts treatment of:

  • Voice –  What voice (first or third person) is each text written in order to be an appropriate tone for purpose and audience?
  • Organization – How is each text structured – sequential, chronological, …? What are the features of the texts?
  • Sentence Fluency – How are the sentences structured – complex, simple, direct, descriptive…?
  • Word Choice – What vocabulary is chosen to make the text specific and memorable?
  • Conventions – How do the punctuation choices (dash, ellipse, parenthesis, etc.) communicate the intended message?

Crafting Writing For A Specific Audience

 Audience consideration is part of a larger model called MAPS. MAPS is a model for thoughtful, effective communication: Mode, Audience, Purpose, Situation.

  • Mode
  • Audience
  • Purpose
  • Situation

Building A Culture of Citizenship

Digital citizenship is the norms of appropriate, responsible technology use. Students act ethically by citing sources, abiding by author’s licenses, and licensing their own work in the public domain. The following technologies can foster a culture of citizenship.


Reflecting On The Text

Deep reflection and purposeful revision of writing occurs through dialogue (peer, group, teacher). The following technologies can engender conversation of students’ writing and provide effective feedback.

Samples of writing to discuss:

October 20, 2013

Talking About Learning – TechyTeacher Tidbits

Talking About Learning

Techy Teacher Tidbits is an online learning community to support the development of digital fluencies – skills which help students survive and thrive in this networked world. The sessions are an opportunity to connect with colleagues as innovative technologies and resources are shared in an informal setting.

Techy Teacher Tidbits take place once a month on a Monday from 4-4:30 p.m.., with the exception of January and June. Each Techy Teacher Tidbit takes place online via Lync (link to online support). Once registered on PD Place, Saskatoon Public teachers can enter the Lync environment to listen, and perhaps participate, in the discussion. If you want to sample new technologies, Techy Teacher Tidbits is for you. All you need is a headset with a mic and an Internet accessible computer. Some people like to visit every session, but trying a few is perfectly acceptable, too!

On October 7th, we discussed web sites and iOS apps for fostering collaboration and communication among students and parents. The mentioned sites are:

  1. Audioboo
  2. ThingLink
  3. Skitch
  4. Remind 101


TechyTeacherTidbits – Fostering Communication

More PowerPoint presentations from Carlene Walter

October 6, 2013

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