Filed Under (Uncategorized) by gillk on 11-04-2012

On Saturday, March 31st most of the students in Gill-Ville attended Edcamp Waterloo Region, our areas first ever edcamp! The students were involved in a technology showcase session where they each presented a project or tech tool to other students in the session and teachers that were attending the event. The Gill-Villeans represented us very well and impressed educators from eleven different school boards across Ontario. It is safe to say that they stole the show! If you are a Twitter user you can check out the #edcampwr hash tag to see what educators are saying about our students and event. Our students shared social media sites such as Twitter, Edmodo, and blogging. Some students shared iPad apps and multimedia projects like our Pan-Canada ePub project. The Gill-Villeans rose to the challenge and inspired educators to learn and try new technology tools. You can learn more about our class showcase sharing by reading a blog post written by a well known Ontario Edublogger, Doug Peterson, who came to see us the day before and wrote all about us! http://dougpete.wordpress.com/2012/03/31/the-day-before-edcamp/

The students also had a large part in helping prepare for the event. In the days leading up to Edcamp Waterloo, the students were eager to show off their baking skills as they made a variety of muffins, cookies, scones, and other treats. They were such a big hit that many educators have tweeted us looking for recipes to some of our goodies! The lemon Oreos that Miss Broderick taught us how to make were quickly devoured and made us famous!

The students in our class also invited Edcamp Waterloo participants to bring donations for the Spring Food Drive. Attendees rose to the challenge and we collected 76 items!

The students that participated received special event T-Shirts from Smart Pen Central and apple swag from one of our sponsors. To show our appreciation, the students created Thank You messages that we sent digitally. Check out the student blogs for their recap of the event and special messages to our supporters.

Mathew: http://kidblog.org/Gill-Ville/Mathew50/edcamp-waterloo-region-3/
Logan: http://kidblog.org/Gill-Ville/Logan608/edcamp-waterloo-region-2/
Kara: http://kidblog.org/Gill-Ville/Kara57/edcamp-waterloo-region-4/
Rachel: http://kidblog.org/Gill-Ville/Rachel609/edcamp-waterloo-region/

The students in Gill-Ville have been learning about various ways to help the environment and reduce our carbon footprint. After learning about the polar bear migration and issues with climate change on their habitat, the students felt a call to action! One thing we decided to do was to raise awareness about the waste humans create. Our class already shows leadership for the school recycling and composting programs, so we decided to go to the next level and learn about eWaste. We also challenged Edcamp participants to bring their old electronics (pictured above). During Earth Week, we will also invite the Ryerson community to drop off their eWaste! More information will be coming home about this soon! Read our eWaste blog posts here:

Jacob’s post: http://kidblog.org/Gill-Ville/Jacob1095/ewaste/
Emilee’s post: http://kidblog.org/Gill-Ville/Emily1271/ewaste-2/
Bailey’s post: http://kidblog.org/Gill-Ville/Bailey270/ewaste-3/

Our class has been working on a collaborative project called the “One Day in Canada” Pan Canada ePub project.  8 classes across the country are contributing to a book that shares narratives, videos, and images that paint the picture of Canadian life.   We began with a writing prompt “One day in Canada, in a town called….”

We we arrived at school on February 1st – the event kick off date – we discovered that the rain overnight had melted the snow that we were walking in the day before.  The Gill-Villeans noted how different this winter has been with unusually warm temperatures and a lack of snow that usually blankets the Cambridge landscape.  We immediately made a connection to the issue of global warming and climate change. The students remembered our webcast and video conference with Andy McKiel about his adventure to the tundra to observe the polar bear migration.  We thought about how the lack of snow influences our lives and how much more serious this issue is for polar bears.  This connection gave us the inspiration we needed to write our narrative for the project!

Due to privacy and release of personal information safety concerns, we decided to draw pictures of ourselves instead of use photographs of our faces.  Each student worked really hard to draw a realistic representation of themselves. We discussed body proportions and techniques to make our faces look more accurate. The students took a good look at their winter clothing to make sure their drawings reflected their actual appearance.

Here is a link to our final version of our story with our illustrations included.Check it out and let us know what you think!

The No Snow Day

Once our story was finished, we then created a script version of the story that we acted out using the Puppet Pal app for the iPad. Each student acted out their scene with the help of a classmate who narrated the scene. We created musical clips for the background of our movie and then pulled it all together using iMovie. Here is our completed video that we are submitting with our story. Stay tuned for more information on the publication of our Pan-Canada ePub!



Welcome back to the start of another great year! We decided to kick off the new year learning about New Year’s Eve traditions from around the world. When students arrived today they received a “New Year’s World Passport” that would be “stamped” after pretending to visit each country and participating in an activity related to the traditions observed there.

We began our day in our classroom kitchen preparing food for some of the activities. Our first stop on our World New Year’s Tour was Spain. We learned that in Spain, people eat 12 grapes at the stroke of midnight, one for each month of the year. This is thought to bring good health to the new year. What a great snack to start off our day!

Our next stop was Peru, where we continued the grape-eating tradition. In Peru, they eat 13 grapes, the extra one is for good luck! We also had a bit of fun predicting our fortune in the new year. In Peru they take three potatoes (one with skin, one half peeled, and one completely peeled) and hide them in a container. People take turns picking a potato. If you picked the unpeeled potato you will have a year of good fortune. If you picked the peeled potato you will have a year of bad fortune. If you pick the half-peeled potato your year will be filled with neither good nor bad fortune.


 We made a pit-stop in Japan before first nutrition break. Listen to the sound clip to see how we celebrated.

Laughing in the New Year in Japan


During nutrition break we came back home to Canada where we indulged in the tradition of a kiss at midnight. Check out our version of the kiss!


After break we spent some time in ancient Rome where we used the livescribe pen to record New Year Resolutions. We also used the ipad to share our reflections of 2011 while visiting Russia.  We’ll be posting these in our blog posts that we are writing this week.  Check out our kidblog site to see them! Watch  my sample reflection by visiting this YouTube link: http://bit.ly/zyZAgn


During second nutrition break we visited Norway where we ate pudding that had a surprise hidden inside. We couldn’t use an almond like they do in Norway so we added a caramel candy instead. Kara and Mathew were the two lucky recipients of the surprise inside and will have a year full of good luck!  After break we pretended we were in Belgium where children write notes to their parents on fancy paper, thanking them for their holiday gifts.

We talked about the ball dropping in New York and enjoyed earning coins for singing carols in Portugal! We also spent time drumming in South Africa and making noise in Australia. Check out our sound files to hear our celebrations!

Emilee Caroling in Portugal for Coins!

Drumming in South Africa

Noise Makers in Australia

We’d love to hear about your New Year’s Eve traditions! How do you celebrate?

For the past month the students in Gill-Ville have been working with Miss McCarter, a graduate student at OISE, on some research surrounding the use of Twitter in education.  Miss McCarter contacted us on twitter after reading our tweets about the global read aloud project.

We eagerly accepted this challenge and the directions of summarizing our stories in tweets.  This proved to be a bit challenging to explain the main idea of each story in just 140 characters! We developed the hashtag #twitread for our tweets for this project. 

This allowed us (and Miss McCarter) to easily search Twitter for the tweets related to this project.  Other classes noticed our hashtag and contacted us to see if they could get involved.  We love it when we inspire others to try new learning things!

The students loved getting responses from Miss McCarter that asked questions about their specific tweets and stories.  I believe this feedback through her replies were the biggest motivator for my students.  They saw the value and it was much more meaningful knowing that Miss McCarter was reading and replying.  My students had an authentic audience and that really mattered to them. 

You can hear their reflections on this project by checking out our livescribe pencast recording of the discussion we had to wrap up the project. Click to open the PDF pencast file!

Student Twitteracy Reflections

We are getting ready for the upcoming holiday season a little early this year in Gill-Ville!  We are participating in two holiday projects with classes around the world that involve sending cards and ornaments in the mail.  Since we want our creations to arrive before the holidays begin, we have to get the work done soon so that we can get them in the mail for them to arrive on time.

Our first holiday project involves making ornaments to exchange with our quadblogging partners in the United Kingdom and in Florida.  We made these lovely reindeer ornaments to hang from a Christmas tree or somewhere in their classroom to help make the space more festive.  Each student made one ornament to send to each of our three quadblogging partner classes and one that they will keep for themselves!


Our next holiday project is a holiday card exchange.  We are in a group with 29 other classes that will send out holiday cards to each other!  Our class mailbox will surely be full!  In order to participate, we decided that we wanted to make our cards in a special way, and like other projects in Gill-Ville, we want to put a technology spin on our job. Our class is creating various card covers that we will use when creating postcards on the iPad (using Bill Atkinson’s PhotoCard app). Instead of making or purchasing holiday cards, we will write our messages postcard-style and mail them directly from our iPads!  Our friends in our mailing group will receive a wonderful professional quality postcard to enjoy and keep on display.

To get our images for our postcards, we are creating different pictures, art projects, and patterns and taking digital photos.  One of our photos will be the reindeer ornaments we made. Another postcard cover will be a patterned picture we created using paint and special holiday stamps. The next photo image we will use will be a scene we drew and added special holiday craft stickers in creative ways. Our last image will use recycled holiday cards to cut up and rearrange to form neat holiday collages. We can’t wait for our project friends to see our work!  We hope they enjoy them as much as we like making them!  Stay tuned for examples of our postcards that we’ll share once they are ready!


Photo shared by Andy McKiel

This past week, our class has been following Polar Bears International’s Tundra Connections program. More specifically, we’ve been checking in with the Edmodo community that is watching the changes during polar bear migration near Churchill, northern Canada.

On Tuesday and Wednesday we watched a live webcast from Churchill where a team of panelists, including Educator Andy McKiel, spoke about the different issues the polar bears are facing with climate change. During the session on the 15th, we sent out some tweets while we were watching.

We also attempted to use Today’s Meet to host a backchannel chat where we could ask questions and respond to the information being shared in the webcast. This process of multi-tasking was a little tricky for students to work on individually so we abandoned part way through so that we could focus on the webcast information. Here is a transcript of the beginning of our online discussion that took place during the webcast. When the webcast was completed we shared our learning using the Idea Sketch app on the ipods and ipads. Here’s a screen shot of the list view and mind map view of one student’s work.

Mind Map

We are planning to have an adobe connect session with Andy McKiel once he returns from his polar bear adventure so we can ask some follow up questions. Stay tuned as we become more involved in the efforts to reduce our carbon footprint and support our Canadian wildlife!


Leading up to Remembrance Day, our class was reading a book about the life of Anne Frank during Holocaust. We read about her family and their experiences hiding out from the German army during World War II and how Anne wrote in a journal she called, Kitty. We were surprised to learn how the children could not go to school and how Anne’s family had to be quiet during the day so that nobody would hear them in the factory below. The students were saddened to hear how so many innocent people lost their lives in the various concentration camps during this war period.

Our class was able to make a fabulous connection to Mrs. Siwak’s grade 6 class in Dundas, Ontario who were reading a similar story about a Jewish child during the war named Hana. The story Hana’s Suitcase inspired them to lead a global twitter chat to discuss the events in history and the importance of peace. Throughout the day people from around the world, and even Hana’s older brother George (who survived) and the researchers who brought the story to life and made it famous, participated in the conversation. To learn more about Mrs. Siwak’s project, check out the mid-November posts her blog here. For an archived view of the chat that took place that day, visit this site.

Many students from around the world shared their thoughts on the Holocaust and the events that occurred (as told in the story). For us in Gill-Ville it was great to make the connection between the two stories and try to imagine what it would be like to grow up as a Jewish child in Europe back then. It really makes us grateful for the peace and freedom that we have today. It certainly makes the phrase “Lest We Forget” more meaningful. Gill-Ville remembers…

Filed Under (Arts, Literacy, Livescribe Pens, Technology) by gillk on 03-11-2011

Today our class, along with the students in grades 3-6, attended a comic art workshop with Jermaine from Freeze DNA (pictured above). Each student came armed with a pencil, paper, great audience listening skills, and creative energy! We listened as Jermaine talked about cartooning and drawing comics. He demonstrated how to draw a few famous characters and even raffled off some of his drawing at the end of the presentation. The best part was following along as Jermain taught us some basic cartooning skills and guided us through drawing a monkey, a girl, a punk rock boy, and Patrick from Spongebob Squarepants. When we returned to Gill-Ville, we discussed the event and many students shared their love of art and desire to be an artist when they grow up. Jermaine truly inspired the Gill-Villeans today. We loved the session so much that we decided that we would try to take on the “professional artist” role and reteach the steps to draw one of the drawings from the session. The livescribe pen was a perfect tool for this job. Click the links below to enjoy the pencasts showing a few samples from our own budding artists!

brought to you by Livescribe
brought to you by Livescribe

brought to you by Livescribe


It was all about the drama in Gill-Ville today. Students had an opportunity to use all of the plasticine figures created last week by individual students to act out their favourite scene from the story, Tuck Everlasting. Students had to think about the order of the events in the story as well as the feelings and point of view of the characters.

We began with a “play” session where each student physically manipulated the figures and practiced their dialogue prior to committing to their final scene reenactment (and subsequent recording). While the students were experimenting with their scene, I recorded bits of their process. I love how you can hear their thinking and planning in these videos! Hear it for yourself when you watch this video! Preparing with Purposeful Play

Next, we used the Puppet Pal HD app for the iPad. With the extra purchase of the director’s pass, we are able to use our own images for the background setting and characters. We took photos of our plasticine characters and the backdrop of the magical spring by the big ash tree in the forest and imported them into the apps scene selection section. Students then recorded their favourite scene from the story, moving their characters and providing them with a voice. Some students were working on generating ideas for dialogue, while others were working on remaining in character and using different voices to represent changes in the speaker.

I love Jacob’s voice changes, interpretation of events, and perception of the character’s feelings throughout the story. I also adore how Jacob shrinks the stranger at the end to have him walk off the set to play with distances.
Jacob’s Scene with the Stranger, Winnie and her Grandmother

Rachel tried to include many characters in her scene to stay true to the plot of the story. I especially like how she acted out Mae Tuck hitting the man in the yellow suit and knocking him out at the end of her scene.
Rachel’s Scene with the Stranger arriving at the Tuck’s house

Like many students in Gill-Ville, Logan was surprised by the ending of the story to learn that Winnie did not drink the spring water and marry Jesse. He decided to act out the final scene when Mr. Tuck talks about his visit to the graveyard.
Logan’s Final Scene with Mae and Mr. Tuck coming back to Treegap

Emilee decided to include the stranger and horse off to the side of her main characters who were center stage. Although they weren’t really part of this scene, I love how Emilee shows her understanding what happened to the horse by acting out their departure off to the side.
Emilee’s Scene with Winnie arriving at the Tuck’s House

Kara took on a big scene at the heart of the story. Many characters are involved and I like how she tried to include them all in the actions, from Winnie being tossed up on the horse, to the part when they pass the man in the yellow suit on the road before the talk of the Tuck’s big secret.
Kara’s Scene at the Magical Spring when Winnie is Kidnapped

Mathew decided to include the frog in his scene from the beginning of the story. I love how he includes this character without a speaking role, from the hop over to Winnie to the rocks being tossed beside him.
Mathew’s Scene at the Beginning with Winnie throwing rocks at the Frog

I also love how the students’ personal interests show in their scene selections. Bailey is a real animal lover so it’s no surprise that he decided to act out the fishing scene.
Bailey’s Scene with Winnie fishing with Miles and having breakfast with the TucksI

Filed Under (Arts, Collaboration, iPods and iPads, Literacy, Technology) by gillk on 27-10-2011

This week our class is looking at the characters from our Global Read Aloud Story: Tuck Everlasting. Each student in the class has temporarily taken on a role of one of the main characters in the text. As students become their character, they are challenged to think about what the character looks like, what they might be feeling at various points throughout the book, and their character’s significance to the plot development.

One of our writing jobs involved creating word clouds that include appropriate connections and associations for their character. Students used words that described the events their character were involved in and describing words about their personality. We’ve made word clouds before using Wordle on the desktop computers (see student “about me” blogs written in September) and this time we decided to try the Word Clouder app for the iPod touch. It was interesting to note the similarities and differences between the two cloud creating tools.

Frog Word Cloud

One of our art jobs involved creating a visual representation of our character using plasticine. Students had to think about the features of the character that they knew from the story, as well as use their imagination and reasoning to include features that were not explained. In the story, Mae Tuck was described in great detail while other characters were not, so this task was more difficult for some than others. The Gill-Villeans helped each other think of ideas and details to include to improve their figure or make it more true to the text.

Our Plasticine Tuck Characters

One of our media literacy jobs involved creating stop-motion animation with our plasticine characters. Each student practiced moving their figure just a little and taking a picture before repeating this process again and again until a sequence of movements across the main story setting (the wood where the big ash tree and the magical spring were located). We used the I Can Animate app for the iPad which was very easy to line up our shots and then automatically convert our images into movie form.

Another one of our media literacy jobs involved making talking avatars, called Voki’s. Students used their visual image to make an avatar that is closest to what they imagined the character to look like. Then students wrote text from the point of view of the character to make their avatars speak.

View the students’ work all shared on their blog posts.

Kara as Mae Tuck

Mathew as Mr. Tuck

Logan as Miles Tuck

Bailey as Jesse Tuck

Rachel as Winnie Foster

Emilee as Grandma Foster

Jacob as the Stranger (Man in the Yellow Suit)