Monday, December 14, 2015

The Best of Div1Edtech in 2015

A Look Back

We had another great year at the Div1Edtech Blog. We had five unique authors and wrote 23 different posts that included topics for grades one, two and three.

The Five Best Posts of 2015

Do not have time to read all of our fabulous blog posts from 2015? With the help of in-person conversations, the stats from Blogger and the +1s we received on Google+, we have compiled this year's Best Of list for you!

Top on Google+

Tied for first place, many Google+ readers obviously liked both:

  • Technology As My E.A. - What do you do when your educational assistant is away for two weeks? Use technology!

  • Super Sentences Centre - Students use Google Docs and Read and Write for Google to work on editing and revision writing skills.

Three Other Top Posts

  • Makerspaces in the Classroom - Want to encourage curiosity, wonder, playfulness and problem solving in your class? Maybe you need a Maker Space? 

What is Next for 2016?

Do you find the Div1Edtech Blog helpful? What topics would you like to see more of in 2016? Leave a comment to let us know.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Hour Of Code in Division One, 2015

Why Hour of Code in EPSB?

Why? It fits perfectly with Edmonton Public School's Career Pathways! By doing the Hour of Code, you are not asking students to become master programmers. You are exposing them to a possible career pathway or perhaps a future hobby. You are helping them develop a general understanding of how a wide range of things that they use daily work - computers big and small run because of programs.

It also teaches and encourages the skills 21st century students need, such as:

  • Logical thinking
  • Problem solving
  • Persistence 
  • Collaboration
  • Communication

How To Do An Hour of Code in Division One?

openThere are many ways you can do the Hour of Code with you class. I used the activities provided by and the majority of this post will focus on using their Hour of Code activities. However, it is helpful if students are able to read as they are given text instructions in addition to video tutorials.

For younger students, many coding activities are tablet based but some have a browser activities, too. Below are some alternatives suitable for younger students:

What I like about's tutorials are:

  • the video tutorials embedded throughout the activities.
  • that students can see what javascript code actually looks like. After each successful puzzle they complete, students have the option of looking at what the code actually looks like. 
  • that when students are not successful they get feedback as to what they missed. For example, they may get a message that says: You have to use a block that you are not using yet. 

Make It As Simple Or As Complicated As You Want


No signup or login is required for students to try the Hour of Code. Students can follow these simple steps:
  1. Go to
  2. Pick on of the eight tutorials
  3. Code! 
... but you do require account creation to save student progress.

Go Big!

If you want to make it bigger than just a one-off, you can go to's How-to Guide. They have a number of ideas from printing certificates to ordering t-shirts. What I liked and used was their map/database of local volunteers, and yes there were a few for Edmonton! 

We had a fabulous IT professional come in to speak to my grade two class. He brought a motherboard, a CPU chip and a memory chip. 

Structure Versus Open-Ended

No signup or login is required for for students to try the Hour of Code but you do require account creation to save student progress. I chose to provide my students with log-ins and I assigned my students the same activity. By having all my students working on the same activity, they can help each other problem solve. 
The first thing I do is model doing the first two stages of the tutorial I selected for the students. The very first thing that happens for the first stage is a video, and we all watch it together. Then I model the first activity successfully. Next I model the next stage but so that I am not successful and demonstrate how to try again. Upon successful completion of the second stage, I show them how they can see the actual code they wrote. Then I let students work at their own pace.

When working with grade fours and grade sixes, I offered students a choice. I worked with two tech helpers prior to their Hour of Code and let them complete one of the tutorials. Then they were available to help their peers on the day of and as they had already completed it once, they were not missing out on the experience themselves.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

A List of Christmas Sites That Will Engage Students in Learning

Ahhh, teaching in December! Report cards and conferences are done, but we still have another few weeks to teach while working around Christmas Concert schedules and uber-excited students. Some of us dig down, ignore the holidays and get through as much curriculum as we can, while some go all out and embrace the holiday spirit. However, who says we have to give up one for the other? Here is a list of Christmas sites that will engage students in learning, with a few games for when they (and you) need a bit of a break!

Language Arts is one of the best ways to integrate holiday themes into your classroom. offers reading and writing activities related to Santa and his North Pole workshop. The Elf Pal Academy has many printable activities especially suited to little ones and English Language Learners.


My students LOVE MadLibs. Classroomjr has a variety of printable winter and Christmas MadLibs, word puzzles, mazes and math sheets.
Winter Mad Libs   Snowstorm    Classroom Jr..png

ABCteach also has a variety of printable Language Arts activities, including word scrambles and comprehension sheets. (ABCteach does require an account, however it is free.)
Christmas Theme Unit   Printable Worksheets  Games  and Activities for Kids page 1   abcteach.png

Storynory is an online story resource that has Christmas-themed audio stories that can be listened to online or downloaded for later.

Storynory   Free Audio Stories for Kids.png

Social Studies

How do students around the world celebrate Christmas? Education World has more activities than Santa has in his sack (sorry, couldn’t help myself!). This Christmas Symbaloo also offers links to Christmas around the world sites.
Education World  Christmas around the world  Lessons and activities.png

While NoradtracksSanta starts tracking Santa on Christmas Eve, the site also offers games, books and music related to Santa.

Need more ideas? Here are a few Symbaloos  (my favourite bookmarking site for younger grades!)  
Christmas Fun has over 15 000 users, and no wonder, with math, stories, games, and puzzles
for all grades.

Christmas Fun   Symbaloo.png

And Christmas 23 is the place for holiday music for your classroom!

Christmas   Symbaloo.png

Do YOU have any favourite sites for the holiday season? Share them with us in the comments!
(And have a Merry Countdown to Christmas holidays!)
Lissa Davies