Putting the Integration Puzzle Together

Putting the puzzle together

Putting the puzzle together

For my final project I am going to create a scope and sequence or a roadmap that connects a variety to tech integration standards with my school curriculum.  I decided to take this route because after completing previous Coetail lesson I decided I wanted to gain a better understanding of what effective tech integration.  The course has answer a few questions that have help me to realize that I need to push my understanding even deeper.  The students do a lot of great work green screening news broadcasts about natural disasters, using Book Creator to retell their written work and using Pic Collage to create great diagrams and posters but here has to be more.

For the past year, I have been struggling with a few questions. First, how to you really transform learning through the use of technology. In other words, according to SAMR how do you truly move away from simple “Substitution” to “Redefinition”? Also, do you need to always shoot for the highest rung on the ladder or is it OK when some learning situations stay at a lower levels.

SAMR Enhancement to Transformation


I also realize  that to develop a well rounded tech integration program the curriculum needs to be inline with the ISTE standards.  For example, it seems that typically, Creative Communication standards are met but often the Global Collaborators element is missing.  It is hard to reach all of the ISTE standards if they are not fully known and understood. The new ISTE Digital Pathways will help provide some ideas and will be a great tool to show the teachers once I can help them understand the area that they need to be working toward in the planning.

The last standard I would like to use it the Common Sense Media Scope and Sequence for Digital Citizenship.  The main reason is why reinvent the wheel when there are great resources out there.

One of my main concern with the project is that it is a massive undertaking.  Piecing together three standards and a curriculum will take a great deal of work. Therefore, I am going to start with Grade 2 as they asked if something along this line could be created to help them understand better where the children are coming from and where they should be when they leave Grade 2.  My second concern is will it actually help in the long run.  Or will making such a document turn back time to the ICT classes once of week mentality. I am hoping not because what I would like to see is teachers using the document in their planning.  One of the key elements will be trying to provide examples to help the teachers understand how all the pieces fit together and to help them understand the language.

Hopefully, the end result will be a teach community (including myself) with a strong understanding of what technology integration is and why it is important. It will also create an Ed Tech community of confidence and independence.

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Managing Classroom Devices

Effectively utilizing a variety of devices in a classroom can be a challenge. As an Ed Tech Coach, my job is to support teachers and students with technology in the class.  Part to the job is coming up with ideas on how to enhance the curriculum through technology but the other part is managing the devices around the school and helping teachers manage them in their classroom.

 The model I am currently working with is carts of devices per grade level.  The breakdown of what I am responsible for is:

  • Gr 2 (4 classes of 20 students)- 1 cart of 20 Chromebooks and 2 carts of 20 iPads
  • Gr 3 to Gr 5 (5 classes of 20 students)- 1 cart of 20 Chromebooks, 1 cart of 20 Macbooks and 1 carts of 20 iPads
  • Specialist (German & Arts) Each have 1 cart of 20 iPads to share between 3 to 5 classes.

Managing Devices Out of the Classroom

Double booking devices

Calendar by Aleksandr Vector


Teachers typically have a device calendar and can book a cart (or a set number) of devices for their class. There are two problems with this method. The first is teachers simply thinking they have booked devices when they are already booked by another class.  Second, there are always some teachers who take devices without booking them and/or not returning after them they are finished.  This is a difficult issue to manage because it mainly comes down to personality.  The people who do not follow the booking “rule” typically don’t follow most school rules.  It just comes to reminding the teacher to use the system properly and being considerate of other.

Students loosing work
Sharing 20 iPads among 100 students is bound to end it a little heartache of lost work.  This can happen for a number of reasons such as other students deleting someones work or technical problems such as devices crashing. Solution…backup, backup, backup.  We try to remind students again and again to make sure they save their work to their Google Drive.  Generally, a very effective method but there are always a few students who forget in the rush and loose work. On occasion, we can find it in the Recently Deleted folder but to often the students have to redo their work.

Students do not always have access to devices
Because we work on a cart per grade system, students do not always have access to device when needed.  We are currently working on moving to a one to one model for but now extra planning, communication and cooperation is needed.

Managing devices in the Classroom 

Responsible Use Policy
At the beginning of each year, students and parents sign the schools Responsible Use Policy.  Within the first two weeks of school, I visit each class and review the terms of the policy and remind them they have signed it agreeing to follow the rules. This is great to fall back on if a students misuses school tech.

Essential Agreement
Each class makes an Essential Agreement for their classroom at the beginning of the year.  The agreement includes basic classroom management and behaviour including devices.  It is posted on the wall and provides a great reminder to the students.

Common Sense Media

WE The Digital Citizens Pledge To…

Set Class Routines/Expectations
Setting the tech exceptions  is one of the most important things a teacher can do to reduce their tech stress. My number one rule is that when the students are receiving instructions or there is a class discuss their iPads are flipped upside down or their computers lids are down. Another good strategy is having the students turn their monitors to face you.  This helps to see where everyone is on a task, as well as, encouraging students to focus on the speaker.

Digital Citizenship
Teaching responsible digital citizenship during a lesson and those teachable moment is also key.  Common Sense Media has great resources for teachers.

Having a well laid out workflow is also an important consideration to reduce tech stress in the classroom.  This includes rules around where devices are stored and organized with easy access for students.  Twenty students gathered around a cart of devices is a recipe for disaster.  Sending groups of students or having tech helper who manage the carts can be very effective.  Workflow also includes a set routine for students saving their work. I highly recommend Google Drive if your school is using G Suite.  Most apps now save directly into Drive. Another tip for teachers using Google Drive is to have a class folder which has a file that for each student.  The students get into the habit of always creating and adding work in their folder so the teacher always has access to what the student are doing.

Classroom Management in a Digital AgeI am always looking for new ideas to help manage the device and  help teachers.  I recommend,  Classroom Management in the Digital Age: Effective Practices for Technology-Rich Learning Spaces by Heather Dowd and Patrick Green  Their book provides excellent ideas on how to best utilize your school devices.

Sites such as Common Sense Media also offer helpful tip in post such as Tips and Tricks for managing devices in the classroom and The Journal’s Tips for Managing Your iPad Classroom

It all comes to down having a clear  and well thought out foundation to build on having devices in the classroom. Whether your school is 1 to 1 or a cart to per student, each model has its challenges and rewards.

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Can a Classroom without Walls Teach Empathy


The relevance of global connections is very apparent working in an international school.  I worked at the Canadian International School in Singapore which had students from almost 60 different nationalities and while working in Switzerland at an international school we have less varsity but still have students from all over Europe, North America and Australia.   Students in the public public system back home in Canada can have less diversity but a closer connection to immigrates who have entered Canada for a variety of reasons including recent immigrated refugees.  However, even though there is an abundance of nationalities in schools today, there seems to be a lack of empathy for the diversity.

Is creating a classroom without walls a way to combat lack of empathy?

Recently, the Grade 4 students studied Human Migration. A large focus was looking at the push and pull factors behind migration. This discussion lead to the Syrian refugee crisis.   I was impressed at the resources the teachers tapped to explore the different perspectives.  One great resource was a representative from No More Walking No More Walkingwho spoke to the students about how Switzerland is handling the influx of refugees.  Not only did she talk about the situation of the refugees but also the complex political side as well.  Through the experiences of the presenter and the great images, the students left a greater understanding of the situation and a great compassion for those who have been displaced.  One student commented that in the past she would see someone she thought was an immigrant and just brushed of any thoughts about them.  Now she always wonders what has brought them here, who have they left behind and do they actually want to be in Switzerland.

In this classroom, the students were able to hear about a global situation through a first hand accounts of someone directly involved.  What happens when a class don’t have the resources or ability to bring in such speakers.

“Can Virtual Reality “teach” empathy?” by Chris Berdik discusses how VR can be another opportunity for global connections creating empathy.  He provides a variety of examples such as the New York Times VR videos that allow students to feel they are in a situation that would otherwise be impossible to see first hand.  Read How to Experience a New Form of Storytelling From The Times to find more examples.

Some 30 million children are displaced. Chuol, 9, escaped into a vast swamp in South Sudan when fighters swept into his village.

There are also institutions that can bring the word into your class.  Skype in the classroom provides opportunities to connect with experts such as Cousteau Mission 31 which took students deep into the ocean which provided an opportunity to “… empower them (students) to take an active part in preserving our oceans.”


The greatest factor of breaking down the classroom walls is that not only can global connections create empathy for people but also for the earth itself.  The future seems a bit brighter if all students develop a greater sense of global empathy through such connections.



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Designers vs Gamers

Screenshot from the BrainPOP Game Design page

Game Design BrainPOP

There are many different opinions  on computer gaming in schools. However, the ideas of students learning through games is not a new concept.  Teachers have been using a variety of games for years in the classroom especially in the areas of Maths and Spelling.  So why the fear of computer gaming?

From talking with teachers and following a variety of discussions there seems to be a few common threads that connect the gaming fear.

First, many teachers and parents still see computers and iPads as a toy and/or baby sitting tool. Perhaps this is because many parents themselves use devices as a pacifier.  Often you can see parents out for supper with their children who are on their iPads or phones the entire meal.  This leads to a quiet calm dinning experience for the parents. Also, children are often on devices while traveling and who can blame them. Typically, when I am on a long train or plane ride I am on a device to pass the time as well.

Second, there seems to be the idea that computer games are a mindless waste of time.  I agree, there are many games that do not have  any educational value eventhough many of them try to pass themselves off as educational games. The Mindshift article  How Games Can Influence Learning quotes,

“The fact is, many of the games out there suck,” said Ralph Vacca, a doctoral student at New York University’s Educational Communications and Technology Program. “They don’t tackle genuine learning needs as teachers see them, they don’t address practical limitations, as teachers see them, and they don’t live up to the hype around them, as teachers see them.”

Third, there is the fear of computer gaming addiction.  The idea that students will spend hours upon hours on a devices completely cutting themselves off from the rest of the world.

There does need to be diligence in trying to find games with a high education value.  That is why sites such as Common Sense Media’s Top Pick List can help dig through the online and app games to find ones that are worthwhile brining into the classroom.  ISTE’s new Digital Pathways is also a great way to curate the choices we have for digital media including games.

However, what about moving away from students consuming games to creating the games.  I have worked with a number of students who have used Scratch to create Maths games for their class mates.  They found the opportunity to create the game very rewarding and motivating as well as the fact that it was an excellent way for them to demonstrate how well their understood the Maths concept.

There are also sites such as Gamestar Mechanics that teach students about game design.  You start by playing a game to learn about the key elements needed to create a game. Next, you fix a broken game with easy to follow instructions that follow the same game design principles that were presented during the playing stage.

BrainPOP also offers material on game design.  They promote their program by focusing on the fact that design focuses on high order thinking skills such as understanding and applying systems, creativity, problem solving and story telling.

Brainpop Game Design

I think there now needs to be a new shift not necessary away from gaming but bringing game design more to the forefront.  Just as gaming and  computer programming often hooks certain students, we also need to work on hooking those that might not be geared toward coding but designing . Doing so would motive a much greater community of learners.

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It’s All In the Question

Chain connecting PBL and IB PYP

Chain connecting PBL and IB PYP

 The “Question” is the link that connects the Project Based Learning (PBL)  and the IB Primary Years Program which is the most apparent during the PYP Grade 5 Exhibition.  According to the IB

“The PYP Exhibition: encouraging in-depth, collaborative inquiry which involves students working collaboratively to conduct an in-depth inquiry into real life issues or problems. “

Wikipedia states that PBL is when “students acquire a deeper knowledge through active exploration of real-world challenges and problems.”

In both situations, the students use a question to drive their learning.  The student generated questions provides them with a great deal more motivation that having a teacher create question.  The question provides focus for research, presentation methods, experts to interview and motivation to keep the students interested.

During the Grade 5 exhibition the students have picked an area of focus from under a Unit of Inquiry.  They have chosen to  inquire into  the inequality in sports between men and women, how computer hacking and be use for good and bad, why coding should be part of school curriculum and how the media can influence how we view ourselves just to name a few.  As the students have spend the past 6 weeks questioning and researching their topics,  my role has been to support them through research techniques and presentation formats.  The students have used sites such as Thinglink to add content to diagrams and maps, Aurasma to overlay videos over visuals and present music and news cast videos, and Scratch for coding.

Jill Ackers blog post PBL Brings Authenticity to International Baccalaureate also discusses how when the programs work together “students do work that is real to them, authentic to their lives, and with a direct impact or use in the real world.”  which is what I see happening often in the PYP schools that I have taught in the past few year.

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Stumbling Blocks to Redefinition

Lego Blocks

Lego Blocks

According to Edutopia’s post “What is Successful Technology Integration

Technology integration is the use of technology resources — computers, mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, digital cameras, social media platforms and networks, software applications, the Internet, etc. — in daily classroom practices, and in the management of a school.

However, this definition can provide a false sense of accomplishment.  I have been reflecting on my effectiveness as an Ed Tech Coach.  According to the definition above, it would appear that I have been very effective as I have been able to work with a majority of the classes on using computers and iPads for research, portfolio posts and content creation.

The important question is not “What is tech integration?” but “How is tech integration changing learning?” I often use the the SAMR model as a baseline for the level of integration.

Enhancement to Transformation


I think 100 %  of my school is at are currently at the Substitution level.


Teachers are currently are using SmartBoards to display content and students are using computers to create written reports.

I also think that a majority of the school are at the Augmentation level.


Students from Grade 2 and up are working in Goole Suites to create presentation and reports which they are able to share with classmates and teachers.

My goal is now to work with the teachers on moving to transformation learning.  The first step being Modification.


Students are currently sharing documents with teacher who are commenting on their work.  Students also often collaborate on one document.

Redefinition is the level I find the most challenging.

RedefinitionStudents have occasionally Skyped with experts outside the classroom.   Also, we have started digital portfolios with the intent of opening them to a larger audience.

I now have two questions:

  1. How to work at the higher levels seamlessly?
  2. Is one level more important that the others?

After watching videos on the different levels, I noticed the common factor moving up the ladder was students expanding their learning environment to a broader audience.

SAMR Circle


The The Technology Integration Matrix provides another angle to look at integration.   Comparing the two does provide more thought into how to change the way students learn.
Perhaps combing the two systems together will build a solid foundation for integration for changing the way students learn.




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Finding Zen

Finding Zen


I created a presentation to share with my students several years ago based on ideas from Garr Reynold’s Presentation Zen.   I mentioned in a earlier post how I was never happy with how it turned out so I decided to give it a facelift for my final project.

I recently had a lesson with a Grade 5 class on creating presentation.  The week before we had looked at different presentations platforms one of which was Haiku Deck.   It is a great tool for creating presentation based on some of Garr Reynold’s principles.  He mentions using visuals to capture your audiences attention.  Haiku Deck is excellent at providing beautiful images which are easy to find based on a topic.  He also speaks of reducing noice and having fewer elements.  In Haiku Deck, you are provided with basic simple templates that provides coherent text without distracting viewers from the image.

In addition to creating effective slides I reminded the students that they are creating presentations so they need to remember to present.  It is not a report therefore there shouldn’t be fifteen bullet points to read.  I encouraged them to use handout if needed but speak to the slides instead of reading from them.  Most importantly, be creative as Garr Reynold’s mentioned, remember that images speak louder than words.

Haiku deck was an excellent tool for meeting many of the Zen Presentation points.

Great Presentations – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires;

However, I also decided to create a third presentation using Keynote.  I had encourage the student to try their hand at creating a presentation following these principles and I wanted to see how easy it would be for myself.  I have also been encouraging the student to use/or take their own pictures for their presentation. Using your own photos eliminate the need to site the images.  One of the tools I had recommend was Keynote just to add a bit of variety to their presentation toolbox.

The presentation below was the result of my efforts. I enjoyed looking through my travel pictures to find images but I also found it very time consuming. I also used the my schools recommend create commons sites Pixaby and Photos for Class when needed. I was please that I only needed to use a few pictures from the site as I was able to use my own photos 80 % of the time.

Deciding on an effective font was also time consuming but I think in the end I found one that was clear and effective.  I played around with positioning to try leverage off the image as well as make the message standout by using large print and key words.

In the end I found that although I enjoyed looking through my photos, I found Haiku Deck a very effective and efficient tool for creating a great presentation.  I look forward to seeing how the students presentations turned out and seeing which tool they decided to go use.

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Making the Most of an Infographic

When I started thinking about finding an infographic to use with students, I found my mind was flying in 10 directions of “Oh, I could use this…” or “I could use that…”.  I first started looking at the great resources on Tricia Friedman blog posted Getting Started with Visual Note Taking.  I then started to think about what I wanted to teach with an infographic. I found myself getting confused between the concept of posters, infographics and visual note taking so I search what exactly is an infographic and of course I found an infographic to explain infographics.

What is an Infographic?
Created by Customer Magnetism.

After reading several definitions I wonder what was the difference between a “Poster” and an “Infographic”.  They both present information visually to inform or educator others about an idea or concept.  I realised that the All Digital Citizens posters  from Common Sense Media which I was going to use with students next week is a infographic.  The complexity of the information needs to take into consideration the age and needs of the audience which is what makes this one a practical infographic for 8 year old students.

Common Sense Media

All Digital Citizens

I will  the posters in a variety of ways.  First, I will teach a series of lessons to the Grade 3 students on Digital Citizenship which is connected to their current Unit of Inquiry.  The lessons will be based on the resources on the Common Sense Media.  As we work through lessons, such as Rings of Responsibility, Digital Citizenship Pledge and Super Digital Citizens we will discuss the connections to All Digital Citizens.

Once we have completed the lessons, the students will be invited to create their own infographic. The students will either create their own infographic by labelling a photograph of themselves using the app Pic Collage  with examples of protecting private information, respecting themselves and others, staying safe online, balancing their time and staying up to cyberbullying.  If they do not want to use their own photo they can label the image below or create their own image.  The student created infographics will be places around the campus as a reminder to other students.

All Digital Citizens


The last use of this infographic will be as the wallpaper on the student iPads as a reminder through the year.  I have altered the colours and added numbers to help students distinguish between two different iPads carts and the iPad they have been assigned. If the students want, I will replace the Common Sense infographic wallpaper with their own infographic.

Digital Citizens 1Digital Citizens 2



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Everyone Has a Voice Through Storytelling

As an Ed Tech Coach, I work with teachers to help them integrate tech into their classrooms in an authentic and meaningful way.  One of the difficult parts of the job is working with teachers who don’t appreciate tech in the classroom for many reasons such as the belief that it is time consuming, it is hard to mange, and the belief that it is a baby sitting tool not an educational tool.  However, I often tell them that one of the things I love about my job is helping students find their voice. Relying on written tests, stories and reports misses so many children due to the fact that English is their second language, learning challenges or just plain lack of interest.  This is where digital story telling comes in and provides them with a voice.

There are many tools today that students can use to express their ideas. One of my favourite tools is an app called Toontasic. It allows students to easily create animations to retell stories, explain historical events or explain scientific principles.

I was working with a group of Grade 2 students last year on their first experience with Toontastic. We went over the basics of the app which included picking a background and selecting characters.  Afterwards, the students had 10 to 15 minutes to explore and see what they could come up with. I was amazed when a 7 year old girls showed her movies on the history of the Jewish people.  She used the Egyptian background and characters to tell the story of the exodus out of Egypt.  Next, she explained Hannukkah with characters with a dreidel and menorah. When given the opportunity, students often take the activity far beyond the expectation.



Stop motion is another great digital storytelling method and is easy when using an app like  Stop Motion Studio. Students are able to use their creativity to made a movie using any found objects such as plasticine, logo people, paper cutout or anything other found items. They can take the project one step farther by adding in a green screen effecting using the DoInk Green Screen app. A project I am working on with a Grade 5 class is how to express the stages of development in a humans life using stop motion.  I am sure the students will come up with their own amazing ideas that go beyond teacher expectations.   A great resources that I found was Stop-Motion Animation Digital storytelling in the classroom.

One of the apps that we use the most at my school is iMove.   Most students are becoming experts.  iMovie on the iPad is quite simple when it comes to movie editing which makes it easy to use for younger children. Older students like to use iMovie on the Macs due to its advanced editing functionality. However, even if the students are experts on movie editing, their movies can be missing the real polished look if their pictures and videos are lacking  focus or interest. A great resource for teaching students about the main principles of photography is the blog post  Stories through a Lens by David Caleb.

By Dave Caleb

By Dave Caleb

David’s iBook and blog post provide great basic strategies  such as the storyboard below that are easy to understand and implement for both teachers and students.





Stories Through the Lens


An important fact to remember is that digital storytelling is a only as good as it’s plan. I encourage teachers and students to make sure they put ample thought into what they are creating before they start. This can be a challenge because usually teachers are under a strict time constraint. In addition, students are eager to create and don’t want to plan. However, in the end, the preplanning makes the activity more time efficient and of a higher quality. David also provides a great Storyboard on his blog post, but any storyboard will do. I often simply have students take a piece of A3 paper and fold it into 6 boxes.

Digital story telling provides all students with a voice to tell their story. and as a teacher, it is always exciting to see what the students will create.

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Lost in Zen

I read Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds several years ago.  I remember being excited about this new idea of turning a boring PowerPoint into a work of art.  I couldn’t wait to get home and put the principles of big visuals, 6 words or less and thoughtful colour to work.  Here is the presentation I came up with.

I have used this presentation on and off with students over the years but have never really been very impressed by it.  It was Ok for a first attempt but  nothing compared to the many amazing presentations that I have seen that followed the  “Zen” principles.  I have often thought of wanting to update and improve my presentation but could never find the time.  Well, now there is nothing like the present, so I decided I will take the time to fix mine up for a couple reasons. First, fixing the old tired slides seems like a great project for this assignment. Second, I will be presenting to our Gr 5 students over the next few month on making presentations for their  final Gr 5 IB Exhibition. For anyone not familiar with the IB, it is a time for the students to present on a topic that is based on a grade “Central Idea” but the topic is their choice.   They spend 8 weeks researching and preparing to present on their topic.  The final day is a “fair” type presentation to the school population, parents and many other visiting schools.

The first element that I will tackle on my presentation will be to find better visuals what represent my understanding of the topics. When I first created the presentation I was trying to closely replicate what was in the books.  I didn’t fully have my head around the main ideas so I had a difficult time coming up with my own ideas for images. I think now, after more exposure to the principles I will be able to find images that better express my interpretation.  For example, if I am trying to stick with the idea of Zen, I think I will look for a striking Zen garden or Buddha image.

Zen Bridge

The next element I will work on is finding a font that is bold, clear and interesting. No Arial, no Comic Sans.  There are tons of fonts so it will just taking a little digging. Positioning of the text is also an area that needs to be updated.  Alignment that is easy on the brain and yet interesting.  It is mentioned in CARP that our brains like Left alignment which works when reading text but I generally like Centre alignment on presentations. I will need to play around to see what looks best.

The final element I will tackle will be creating interesting captions that still express the principles. Not sure how to make “6 Words Max” interesting but I will have a play with work smithing it to see what I can come up with.

I have been playing around in Keynote with my students quite a bit lately so I will maybe look at it for a platform for the presentation.

As I put all of the concepts together, I will also focus on the fact that Pittrapim mentioned in her last blog post, we only have peoples attention for approximately 10 second so we need to make them count. I am looking forward to sharing the final product in my final project for Course 3.



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Nature’s Palette

Mother nature is the world’s best colour designer.  All you have to do it look closely at a flower or a sunset to see beautiful colour combinations.  I remember, years ago, noticing the contrast between a the green leaves of a tree and the blue sky in it’s background.  The sight was breathtaking but often in our everyday lives goes unnoticed.

Garr Reynolds comment in his article The power of the visual: Learning from Down Under promotion videos that ,”Design is everywhere”, reminded me of that day.  When I stared watching the promotional videos he mentioned I was also reminded of a promotional video from my home in Alberta, Canada called “Remember to Breath”.

Once again I was reminded of the beautiful colours in nature.  The images are spectacular and made me a bit homesick as I haven’t lived in Canada for almost 10 years.

I started thinking about how I could use the concept of natures colour palettes to teach the Grade 5 students design concepts for their upcoming IB PYP Exhibition project.   I have been working with their teachers on  effective presentation tools and encouraging them to review basic design principles with their classes.  I suggested resources such as  Keri-Lee Beasley’s iBook “Design Secrets Revealed”.  One of the concepts she mentions is Contrast. Based on the video “Remember to Breath”, I looked for a picture that would demonstrate the beautiful colour combinations that are all around use. I had a look on a website the school encourages the student use when looking for images called Pixabay which is creative commons.

CC0 Public Domain Free for commercial use No attribution required

I found a beautiful picture of a wild rose but decided I would rather use my own photograph with the students because I always encourage them to use or create their own images for presentations.  This helps to teach the importance of respecting others digital media as well as adding their own creative touch to their work.  I found a photo that I took in Bali with beautiful colour contrasts of a butterfly on a flower.  This image show a variety of colours that compliment and contrast each other.  There are varying shades of greens against the dark pink in the flowers or the black and light blue in the butterflies wings.


My favourite tools that help identify the value of images are the ColorPick EyeDropper ,  the app Pantone and the website Color Palettes .

ColorPick EyeDropper is a eye-dropper & colour-picking tool that allows you to select colour values from webpage or image on your computer.  Once the values have been identified, they can be added to a font or background colour editor.

ColorPick Eyedropper

Pantone, identifies the colour value of your photos.  Simply snap a photo and let the app analysis the images and identifies the colour values of different elements in the picture.


The website, Color Palettes provides the colour value of a variety of images and  many are based on our natural surroundings. You can pick a palette based on warm or cool values or on contrasting or pastel colours.

Color PaletteI decided to put together a teach tool which a selection of my photographs and the tools mentioned above.  Now the only thing left if to share the ideas with my Grade 5 teachers and students.

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Teaching by Example

I created a website for students and teachers to help them navigate and understand the schools new digital portfolio platform.  I use Google Sites because it fit easily into the school Google Apps for Ed.  I was able to set up a basics site and make a few changes to the template.  However,  I never found the site easy to navigate or visually interesting.

Original Website

After reading through after reading the Dustin Wax article, Better Design with CRAP, I decided to have another look at my old site to see what I could do to change it. While I was clicking away ended up on the new Google Sites 2017.

I had a play around with the new Google Sites formatting to see if it would help me to follow the CARP principles.  The new navigation was quick and easy to follow.  I found within minutes my old tired Bootcamp site was starting to breath new life again.

New Website

The first CRAP principle of  Contrast was implemented easily by the template.  The title and text stood out more clearly within minutes.   Alignment and Proximity were also easy to put into action.  The grid system made it easy to align the objects and play around with proximity.  The still have a bit of work to go but I now have a good head start on improving the site.

Now to take CRAP principles out into the world.  I always found it difficult working with the students on presentation or visual displays.  They love to have neon colour and things flying around.  The question is always how to tame the distractions without crushing their interest in being creative.    After reading the article by Dustin Wax, I remember Kari-Lee Beasley’s eBooks Designs Secrets Revealed  using CARP (instead of CRAP) design principles.

Design Secrets Revealed

She provides quick and easy to understand visuals on how to work with Contrast, Alignment, Repetition and Proximity.





I have used her book in the past with students during projects where they needed to create visual aides.  It was always great to see the improvements they were able to easily make.  Using CARP will be an area I look forward to working with students this year.

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