2011 – A digital year in review

Every year in January we take some time to look back at the the exciting and interesting uses of technology across the school. It is an opportunity to celebrate our  teachers for creating engaging learning environments and continuing to explore what it means to teach and learn in the 21st century. Please take a moment to share some of your experiences this term in this short survey: Click here to take the survey.



While we may not think of it very much Blackboard is the one tool that our student touch everyday. It is where they get their announcements, their course material and increasingly it is where they submit their work. This year with the addition of many new features Blackboard has found its way back into many lessons and units as an important place for students to share, communicate and collaborate.

Popular Blackboard uses this year:

1) Course Blogs – Facilitating debate, discussion and idea sharing

2) Course Wikis – Building and collaborating unit and exam review notes

3) Safe Assign – Digital dropbox and transparent plagiarism protection for student/teachers

4) Course Journals – Private journals or developmental workbooks – easy digital archiving of student progress.  All staff have experienced this now as Helen and David have been using Journals as a tool to facilitate and monitor staff professional development and growth. The Music department continues to use Journals to host their “Developmental Workbooks” for grades 6-10.

5) Embeds – More and more teachers are embedding videos, surveys, and other media into their courses to make them more engaging.

If you are looking for even more ways to raise the level of your courses check out this showcase list of exemplary courses.



Collecting Data for Formative Assessment


Senteo & Smart Response : This great tool  continues to be used across all the subject areas and grades. Science and Art have recently been using it in interesting ways. Did you know that you can download ready made question sets from SMART? :http://exchange.smarttech.com/search.html?q=#type=SMART+Response+question+sets Click here for some more stories about Senteo in York Cclassrooms. –


IXL : http://ca.ixl.com/ – This new addition to our digital collection has been very successful and popular with the students. We not have all students from Grade 1 – 9 enrolled in IXL and are able to look at their progress as math students in a much more in depth way.



Digital Subscriptions 

Gizmos (http://www.explorelearning.com/)  have again been very popular this year in Math and Science.

Here is the newest update from explore learning.

Equilibrium and ConcentrationThe two equilibrium lessons use the same Gizmo, but focus on different topics. In theEquilibrium and Concentrationlesson, students observe reversible reactions to gain an understanding of why chemical equilibrium occurs and how equilibrium constants are calculated. The follow-up lesson,Equilibrium and Pressure, discusses partial pressure, Dalton’s law, and Le Chatelier’s principle.

With the Measuring Volume Gizmo, students can use a variety of containers and tools to measure the volumes of liquids and solids. Students can fill containers from a faucet, pour water from one container to another, add objects to containers, and measure the dimensions of objects with a ruler. An eyedropper is available to add or remove small amounts of water, and a magnifying glass can be used to get a close up view of a meniscus. Students can test their skills using the “Practice” mode of the Gizmo.

Dichotomous KeysIn the Dichotomous Keys Gizmo, students use dichotomous keys to identify a variety of plants and animals, including California albatrosses, Texas venomous snakes, and more. Students can then try creating their own dichotomous keys for organisms in the Gizmo or for organisms found where they live.


Bitstrips: This great digital storying telling tool has been popular in the middle and lower school this year. If you are looking for a different vehicle to capture student ideas and expression take a leap into Bitstrips. http://www.bitstripsforschools.com/



Discovery Education / United Streaming

Lots of new content to check out on United Streaming since we talked about it in September. Many teachers use this along with ACCESS Learning to enrich lessons.

Just in!! New French Content Theme Page

Presenting Discovery Education’s finest content in French. This collection of digital content offers a taste of the many French language resources available on Discovery Education streaming Canada, including full videos from groundbreaking series such as Planet Earth, MegaWorlds, and Canadian Geographic Presents.


You can access all of our digital subscriptions on either of our school portals

Upper School Portal – www.yorkschool.com/us

Lower School Portal – www.yorkschool.com/ls


The York School Blog Network

The York Blogging project continues to flourish thanks to the addition of the Grade 9′s. Presently  all  grade 9′s and 10′s have their own blog and post to them regularly. Check out our new Blogging Portal on York Net – https://www.yorkschool.com/podium/default.aspx?t=120380 . If you are looking for a particular student you can search them on our Blog Portal here: http://yorkschoolblogs.wikispaces.com/ or  see the most recent posts here: http://blogs.yorkschool.com/yorkstudents/

We hope you take some time to leave a student a comment.


Onenote has been our fuzzy little beast this term! OneNote is a tool that creates binder-like packages. This can be useful for project, assignment and entire units. Teachers are using it in four different ways:

  1. Creating a notebook embedded with handouts, web links, images and activities and giving it to their students via the shared space (U drive), email and blackboard.
  2. Instructing students to create their own notebook by themselves with the necessary units or projects labelled as tabs.
  3. Instructing students to create their own notebook and over time providing them with handouts to embed within the notebook.
  4. Creating a notebook for themselves for long range planning including embedded PowerPoint slides, assessment rubrics, class notes, handouts and activities.

Some examples include:

P.E. Fitness Logs for grade 6 – 10

–          Students record fitness data within a ready-made fitness log

MYP Tech and ICE Education Game Project for grade 9

–          Students develop their entire project within this file

MYP Tech and Math Bathroom Design Challenge for grade 9

–          Students develop their entire project within this file

Design Tech Journals for grades 6 – 9

–          Students use their journals for various D&T projects



The SMART Board continues to be used extensively throughout the Middle and Upper School.

Many teachers are downloading and utilizing interactive modules / lessons, diagrams and activities from the online database: SMART Exchange. SMART Exchange is a free database that contains subject and grade specific interactive activities built to be used on the SMART Board.

SMART Notebook also contains a variety of interactive activities, tools and images within the Gallery tool tab.

A few teachers have also used the SMART Recorder to capture screen video and upload to blackboard or youtube.

Here are some items you can try to help make your class more interactive:

  • Check out SMART Notebook > Gallery Tools tab on the far left, type key words into the search bar to find interactive tools and / or images
  • Check out SMART Exchange for new and improved interactive lessons or activities (use subject, grade or key word to help you find activities)
  • Check out SMART Recorder (type “smart recorder”) into the Windows search bar and record your own screen captured video


The Lego robotics program has kicked off at TYS this year! We’ve started with grade 6 with a unit called Relief and Rescue. Their task is to create a robot that completes a series of challenges related to providing humans with relief and rescue during man-made and / or human-made disasters. They used their D&T OneNote file to document the stages of the design cycle. In groups of 3-4 the students have:

  1. Investigated and discussed robots, robotics as well as relief and rescue
  2. Been introduced to the first challenge: create a robot to deliver a relief package across the robotics platform (4’ x 6’) and make a sound to alert people of the package’s arrival
  3. Designed a robotic device using Lego Digital Designer
  4. Created a robot used NXT Lego Robotics Kits for challenge 1
  5. Completed challenge 1 and have been introduced to challenge 2: detect and avoid landmines of the robotics platform
  6. Re-design, re-built, re-programmed their robotic devices for challenge 2

There will be 3-4 more challenges left in the unit. We are also hoping to showcase the final challenges to the grade 5 students at the end of the unit!

Google Docs

Google docs is a powerful way to encourage mass collaboration between teaching partners / colleagues as well as within your class.

Teachers are using google docs in three ways:

  1. Creating google forms to gather data from students or from parents
  2. Encouraging students to create google forms to gather data for assignments
  3. Creating documents that are shared with the students – students collaborate either in class or outside of class (e.g. a collaborative French dictionary, group math activity resulting in a class created math document for future review)

Check out:




Multi-Media Lab

The new multi-media lab has seen lots of use in the last four months. The student produced weekly edition of York School TV  has been very popular.

Some notable projects that have gone through the lab have been.

  • Grade 12 Group 4 – “Myth Busters”
  • Grade 10 Drama – Parody Videos
  • Grade 9 ICE – Toronto Island Shorts
  • Grade 9 French – Tours du Paris

with lots more on the way………………..


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