James Gill

James Gill

James Gill is a Grade 6 & 7 teacher in SD43/Coquitlam, Canada: "I am challenging the status quo of education today. I want my students to get the education that best prepares them to chase their dreams, and to make a positive difference in the world. Currently I am focusing on student / teacher rapport, and how to integrate different technologies into the process of teaching and learning. I leverage technology to help students communicate, to keep themselves organized, and to create works of the imagination. My students and I are piloting Office 365 in our district, and it has empowered us."

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Mark with Less Effort – Let’s Talk About it!

I have been thinking a lot about giving kids feedback versus grades lately. What makes for smarter kids?

I had some students choose their own questions from a list I provided so that they would think more deeply about their novels. Students read novels in groups, and then used these questions to have discussions. The students then proceeded to write answers in their OneNote notebooks that I provided them with the OneNote notebook Class Creator.

 Two-thirds of my students... have a personal device, be it a parent's old laptop, a small android tablet, or an iPad.Visit the author's original post

The Next Great Equalizer

The HP stream is my new favorite device.  HP Stream 11-d077nr Signature Edition Laptop


Wait? Whaaaat?

Nope, ya heard me.  Straight up love this little laptop.  It is not the fastest, nor is it the most feature rich.  I love it because it is a great equalizer. 





No, not THAT kind of Equalizer!




I did a side by side comparison with a Chromebook.  A really well made Chromebook.  Both were affordable devices.  Both offered all day battery life.  Both have access to a variety of apps that students will find useful.  Both devices would offer students today a leg up in their education with proper application.  But, I choose the HP Stream hands down, if given the choice.… Visit the author's original post

Getting to Know Office 365 with my Students

This week I signed up my students on Office 365 as part of a district initiative. I sent home a draft waiver provided for me by the district IS department. 


Office365 landing page

On the first day, I got 22 of 29 responses back, all with a “yes” answer. 

Once I had all the waivers back I created accounts for my students one at a time.  There is the option to bulk upload names of kids all at once in a CSV file, but I chose to do it one at a time so that I could assign the students’ password.  I followed a naming scheme for login ID’s designated by the district, and create a set of passwords for my class that each student would find easy to remember.  Office 365 wants an 8-16 digit password with capitals, letters and numbers.… Visit the author's original post

Surface Pro 3 Part 1

Removing Barriers

My inquiry this year is around using technology in ways that improve student – teachers rapport and communication.  There is a natural tendency to focus on the new and shiny, but this year I am looking at using technology only where it makes a positive impact on student learning.  But choosing the right tool can make all the difference.  Today I want to talk about meetings and technology. Meetings are mostly about listening.  Meetings are sometimes about recording, and about making conscientious contributions when the moment presents itself. Visit the author's original post

Mobile in the Classroom: Office Lens

Who uses this handy survival tool? image What does Office Lens do? Something vastly better than taking a picture of a piece of paper.  It takes a picture of a document: image(Actual angle of document in picture) And then it justifies the angle, corrects the color, and makes cropping the picture easy. image It then sends it to my OneNote in the cloud!  (Adds to my Quick Notes section of my Personal Notebook)  On average it takes about a minute, possibly two with slower bandwidth to appear in my Notebook, while I am working in it.   What could be easier?  Putting resources in OneNote means I can then mark it up, write directly on the page, save it as a PDF, and then put it where my students can access it.  Also, OneNote can read the text in photos, so I can extract the text to edit it if I would like!… Visit the author's original post

Survival Skills for Digital Natives in the Analog Jungle

Part 1

Students in my class come with their own set of needs.  In this series of blog posts, I will be sharing some of the skills I am teaching them to help themselves in class.  I teach the whole class these skills because although they are targeted to some, they are beneficial to all.

Lost in Translation

Some of my students are newly-arrived from other countries, and they are paying a lot of money to attend our schools as International Education Students.  But, due to government cutbacks there is less support for these students, in class or in the form of pull out classes. 
I have a borrowed Surface Pro 3 tablet for my classroom, a 1st generation Surface RT and my own personal Windows phone.  All have the Bing Translator app.  This app allows someone to speak into the device, or hold the camera over some text, and the app will use the power of the cloud to translate.  There are offline translation packs available.  My most commonly used one now is Chinese (simplified)
When you use the translate app on the tablet, it allows you to easily toggle between translation direction.  I can ask a question, hit the switch arrow, and my Mandarin speaking student can answer back in his own language.  Below is a transcript of our conversation:
Back and Forth Conversation Using Bing Translate
Sometimes I needed to translate part of a sentence, sometimes we used it for the whole sentence in our conversation.  At the bottom is the two way arrows that we use to switch back and forth between languages. 
And on my Windows phone:
Bing Translate on my Phone

Wherever it is supported I use the speaker icon so that my students can hear the words spoken to them from the device.  This is because early in my career I read a book by Jim Trelease (the Read Aloud Handbook) which said that listening comprehension is higher than reading comprehension for children up to age 13.Visit the author's original post