My Places Online

This blog is where I share my thoughts as an educator. On twitter I am @jaccalder.

The following are my class blogs and sites.

The following are resources I have put together or collaborated on to support teachers.

Effective, descriptive feedback and assessment with GAFE

This post cross-posted here and on


I had the opportunity to work with an AMAZING group of English and Language teachers from MSS and PSS today. Todays session has been in the works all year. A few things led us to this day:

  • one of the teachers in our TLLP (Robin) came back from ECOO very excited about using Google Drive for effective feedback in the writing process
  • our school board opened up Google Apps for Education for our students and teachers
  • we visited Derrick Schellenberg and his TLLP crew at Sir William Mullock SS in Newmarket and observed them using Google Apps for awesome peer and teacher feedback
  • our Program Dept. supported our collaboration through their Tech Hub program after we spent all of our TLLP budget
  • most importantly and to be certain, my colleagues are an AMAZING group of teachers

What impresses me so very much is that even though today involved a LOT of procedural step-taking and technology tool use, the focus and the passion was really about effective feedback and how to revolutionize our classrooms to support student learning. Our heads exploded about 3 times per hour. We ranged from first-time Google Docs users to “living in the cloud” (chromebook) users.

Below is a list of the steps and stages we used from a technology point-of-view (and resources to support them). However, I am not sure how to put into words the real learning from today. The sharing of ideas and strategies for class assignments and assessment was fascinating. The energy in the room even though our heads were spinning, was contagious. What really resonated for me was this group of teachers’ excitement for the continuous feedback cycle where feedback leads to improvement which leads to more feedback and more improvement and only then to a final assessment.

(This way too long 25-minute video provides an overview of the entire process )

GAFE Descriptive Feedback from Jac Calder on Vimeo.


From a technological point of view, here is what we looked at today.

  1. Used Google Chrome as our browser (installed it if not already on device)
  2. Activated our SCDSB Google Apps account if not already done
  3. Create a folder for your class in Google Drive
  4. Create a master spreadsheet for each class. Include the following headings: Last Name, First Name, school email address. (If we needed a list of class usernames we had to find someone with PowerSchool access to run this report)

  5. Create a Google Group for class (this allows you to share a document or send an email to the entire class by adding only one email address. It also lets you remove a student from the group which removes access to all those documents you shared, if needed).
  6. Use Doctopus to send shared assignment files to students

    • copy your master spreadsheet and put it in a folder named for your assignment (last name, first name, email)
    • create the master assignment file (docs, drawing, presentation, spreadsheet) and put it in your assignment folder
    • run the doctopus script to send the assignment to students
  7. Use Kaizena to provide audio feedback and differentiate student next steps in learning (by attaching different resources to different student work) in student writing. Video resource:

  8. Use Goobric to assess student work
    1. Create a rubric in a Google Sheet (spreadsheet)
    2. Install Goobric
    3. Run the script from within the students assignment


Next Steps 

We didn’t quite get through everyone getting Goobric up and running, so ideally we will be able to book our next meeting for after we have student work in their files and we’ve given them some descriptive, effective feedback. Then we will be able to use our Goobric rubric (can you say that ten times fast?) to do a checkpoint or final assessment. Hopefully at this point we can share what worked in this process and talk about how our feedback worked to improve student learning.

Lastly, we’d love to share something else we observed at SWMSS, (Derrick’s class) at risk of more heads exploding. His students were running seminars in groups and were using Google Presentations. Each student in the class was following along during the presentation and could choose to verbally ask questions and comment, or they could also provide feedback right within the presentation file. It was empowering. Andrew (from PSS) spent a lot of time talking to the students in this class and we can’t wait to bring that forward to the group.


What I Learned Today: The Power of Support in Sharing #OSSEMOOC

Last week Donna Fry challenged us to share. Through this #OSSEMOOC post, she asked us to write a blog post about what we learned today.

The day that Donna sent out this challenge I had spent the day working with a TLLP team in my school around the next steps of our project. The first order of the day was to share what we had learned already. Each teacher wrote a blog post while we were all in the same physical room. For many of us, this was one of our first blog posts. Our goal was to share at least one good thing that had happened in our classroom as part of our journey towards 1:1 BYOD Blended Learning.

Teachers shared posts about the following classroom activities on our TLLP blog

What I learned from the process was the power of support in sharing. As we all sat together in the workroom and people learned how to work the blog platform, embed samples of student work and write up their learning in an engaging manner, teachers talked and chatted. Many felt that they didn’t have anything exciting to share, but once we started talking, others in the group jumped on board and started encouraging each other. Pointing out the great practices that were embedded in their classroom activities and how they may adapt the activities to fit other subject area and classes. Teachers even commented on each others blog posts. The atmosphere was amazing, supportive and critical.

What really resonated with me during the process was the importance of support (moral and technical) to start sharing. We talk about the importance of sharing the good things happening in our classrooms, and becoming connected educators – but how often do we embed the time and support to do the actual sharing as part of our professional development.

This morning of sharing and supporting one another has to be one of my favorite days working with colleagues.


Technology Leadership in Ontario: Interview with Donna Fry #educ5205

I’m taking a course on technology leadership and one of our tasks is to interview a technology leader. I was lucky enough that Donna Fry, Ontario Education Officer (eLO) agreed to answer my questions.

Donna is one of the most down-to-earth, logical and creative people I’ve met. Her job keeps her busy right throughout the March Break and I can’t thank her enough for taking the time to help me out. Thanks Donna!

Please watch the 10-minute video overview of the interview below. I finally found a way to harness the bad habit that I have of speaking incredibly fast when I get excited…

The voicethread that contains Donna’s original answers is below as well. I would strongly encourage anyone reading this to go right to the source and watch the voicethread. Donna’s responses are eloquent and motivating for anyone interested in technology leadership.



“I had nothing to do with it”

Today, I had a great conversation with a teacher. We were talking about an assignment her students created. They created an entire video game that demonstrated their understanding of a concept in English class. The rest of the class played the game, got right into it and it lead to awesome class discussion. Students created the game, original drawings and music. This extremely passionate teacher was so excited. When I commented how cool that was, and how THIS is why I love blended learning and want all my kids to have access to devices her response was “but, I had nothing to do with it!”.

I disagree. She had EVERYTHING to do with it. This amazing teacher created a collaborative, creative learning environment and assessments where it was ok for students to personalize their learning and how they demonstrate their understanding. She knew that she didn’t need to understand all the technology behind the product in great detail.  I can’t wait until she gets a chance to share the learning activity, student work and reflection.


Creating a Virtual Museum

I teach half-day at an alternative school for First Nations, Metis and Inuit students. Myself and Brent (the other teacher) have an idea for semester two. We want our students to create a museum exhibit on Canada’s First Peoples. They seem on board with the idea. Our students are taking Ojibwe, physical education/health, learning strategies and then an independent compulsory course. We have 1:1 computers, students bring their own mobile devices, access to a green screen and helicopter/drone with GoPro camera. Access to tools and devices is not a barrier.

Our thought was to make a physical museum display in our class space and then we would like to also have a virtual display and tour. We would invite local elementary schools to visit in addition to visit our virtual space. We have the following ideas for curriculum connections so far:

  • display on Aboriginal games and sport (phys ed)
  • display on local geography and how First Nations historically used the land (geography)
  • display on First Nation treaties (history)
  • display comparing what democracy looks like in Canadian government to First Nations (civics)
  • interview with First Nations, Metis or Inuit people about their jobs, education and how they got there (careers)
  • display on types of art and student creations (art)
  • display on the history of language (Ojibwe)
  • display on traditional types of shelter (living spaces and shelter)
  • a mobile app/game to make practicing Ojibwe language fun (Ojibwe)

We started with the idea of SecondLife, moved into Minecraft and now someone has suggested Google Gallery. Do you have any thoughts on what digital tools might help us create the digital or virtual display and tour of our exhibit?

Thank you for sharing any ideas that you have.