• As part of the controversially named “Explicit Language” group (we are inquiring into discipline specific language registers and how best to incorporate them into our teaching so as to benefit learners of varying […]

  • Hey folks!

    Those who have worked with me in the past know I’m a big fan of games-based learning. Nothing in my experience starts conversations with students in the way that games do: critical thought provoking, […]

    • Hi Matt,

      This was a really clear discussion of the difference between gamification and game-based learning. While I might not use a game in my DP classrooms, I can use the principles of games-based learning to improve student focus on the rubric so that they can track their progress towards mastery of particular skills.


    • I had a student in China who was obsessed with Minecraft. He was an EAL student and he had difficulty communicating his thoughts in English. One day, he asked if he could show me how to play Minecraft. I agreed and he made a lot of effort explaining how the game worked to me in English. It was amazing to watch (and listen to) him! I used many other games with him (board games and iPad games) and I found that our interactions were always really rich when it was in the context of a game.

  • Hi folks,

    Something I love using with kids of all ages is a digital story. Being able to tell stories with visual, audio and interactive components helps students transcend some of the limits of language in […]

  • Love seeing how this stuff comes together in practice. Some of this work has some connected visuals, but it’s mostly word based. Is it practical to try and use other literacies, perhaps something akin to sketchnoting , to augment these? Thoughts?

  • Always sharing great resources. I haven’t tried twitterfeed, dabbled in tweetdeck and hootsuite so far but they’re more powerful than I need.

    When you’re following a trend across a lot of different platforms, or perhaps several trends that aren’t typically related (for example: #EAL #Design #SPELTAC), there is a useful website in

  • Hey Andy!

    I think we could find some way to implement success criteria into our reflections on the finished infographics. Possibly a video or blog reflection discussing the CRAP elements, but some students will be stronger than others when it comes to this. It’s a lot of new content for G3, I hope to make it stick but will iterate on it in G4…[Read more]

  • Thanks Chelsea! It’s new to me this year as well, but it’s a huge asset for anyone who wants to communicate with symbols.

  • Lately I’ve been learning a bit about design, and this week I’ll be starting new lessons on creating infographics with Grade 3 students studying the solar system. An infographic is a powerful and easy way to […]

    • I’m excited to see the first real blog post on SPELTAC that documents in detail the teaching of new literacy skills, but not only that, one that ties in all the elements of language acquisition: building background, hands-on experiences before moving the children to explicit teaching of the language used for visual literacy and the integration of content and literacy. Thanks for the excellent resources, too!

    • Hi Matt,

      There are some great connections here to how we would work in MYP Design and the discussions we are having as part of the whole school Design review. You have three aspects of research (similar to what MYP would do) – learn about what the content of the infographic could include, CRAP and the tools (software) that will be used to make the infographic (the product). Based on student understanding of the solar system, CRAP and Piktochart would you guide them to generate success criteria (specifications) for the infographic’s content and looks? Would they also generate more than one design idea (using Piktochart) and then choose the best one (based on the success criteria)? Or is this asking too much of Grade 3? It would be great if you are able to also introduce some of this kind of Design Cycle terminology?

      Looking forward to hear more about this teaching/learning journey (and hoping that my Lucas will voluntarily share it with me too!!)


      • Hey Andy!

        I think we could find some way to implement success criteria into our reflections on the finished infographics. Possibly a video or blog reflection discussing the CRAP elements, but some students will be stronger than others when it comes to this. It’s a lot of new content for G3, I hope to make it stick but will iterate on it in G4 next year.


    • Hi Matt, this is a great project and I love that the 3rd graders are already used to searching for ‘labeled for reuse’ images. I also love that you are using Keri-Lee Beasley’s work. She is amazing. Best of all, my inquiry group is interested in using symbols instead of words to start conversations and the Noun Project is PERFECT. If I had seen it before, I had completely forgotten about it. <3

      • Thanks Chelsea! It’s new to me this year as well, but it’s a huge asset for anyone who wants to communicate with symbols.

  • Hey Simon!

    That video you’ve made is awesome, I wish we could have embedded it. I’m going to work with Marcelle to figure out why we’re having problems embedding video content. I love that you feature it on the sidebar of your classroom blog too, it really shows that you’ve made it a priority to your students to celebrate their diversity. As…[Read more]

  • Raising student awareness of the limitations of Google Translate.

    Many of us rely on Google Translate as a tool to get through to the English language learners in our classrooms, as do many of the staff, […]

    • I’d love to try this one day. I encourage students to only Translate one word at a time and, if I am beside them, I ask them to check all the definition options to see which seems to fit best. It is a good feeling when a student makes the connection to the right context.

    • What a great idea. Trying this. Also love the use of technology in this post! It’s also interesting that in some languages it seems to work better- like from English to Finnish it seems to cause less confusion than from English to Japanese.

    • Sounds great fun and very useful at all levels and abilities; for instance in Grade 11 TOK students have to consider different ways of knowing one of which is Language and this would be a fun way to demonstrate how misleading language can be when translated and lead to a useful discussion on the values and limitations of language.

    • Matt! I love this post. I love the two pieces of technology that you integrated to share the idea, too! The short video caused me to stop and play the game myself to test it out with languages I know…and like Marcelle, I found that the closer the languages (in my case English, Spanish, French, German and Italian) the closer the translation. Definitely a learning experience for our students with language or letters/characters more distant form the target language.

  • Hi Lizzie

    We’re checking out your blog in a group over here and thought we’d leave you a comment.
    Love the use of visuals, the sharing with links to lesson plans and tips for curating all the crazy materials. You can make your links clickable to encourage more traffic, check out the little chain link icon at the top of the compose box and let…[Read more]

  • It’s so empowering for me to see the changes that this kind of networking are creating in our community, and the confidence it bestows on teachers who realize that, not only can they “do it”, they can be shining examples for others as well. I’ve been a Twitter member since 2009, and I’ve had multiple personal blogs since I started writing them as…[Read more]

  • In search of EAL goal setting strategies for team teachers and coaches

    They call me a “technology coach” around here. When I first heard the title, even coming from a background of technology education and […]

    • Hi Matt, in our Environments focus group on Friday we were looking at how we can promote multilingual environments. One of the things we noticed was that images and symbols can be a great meeting point for different written and oral languages. When we start with an English word and branch out, we have already given precedence to one spoken/written language. Your work on ‘leveraging multimedia, symbols, gestures and simulations of technology to find common ground’ may be an excellent connection for our group.

    • Hi Matt,

      One thing that this post made me think about it yet another subject area in secondary – one dedicated to information and communication technology. I feel that there is a lot of important information about how to use, how to talk about using, how to select the best way to use everything from software to hardware that overlooked in traditional curriculums. It is often frustrating to have to stop teaching skills and content of my subject area to try and teach the skills and content of technology before we can return to the original subject. Obviously in an ideal world these two things should be merged.

  • Why hello there, language educators! Or wait, was that language learners?

    When we were ramping up for this SPELTAC experience, I caught myself saying some things to my peers as we singled out the […]

    • Wow Matt- this really pushed some of my buttons! How I remember being in a language class as an adult, being afraid to speak and everyone dressed differently than I. I use to use pantomime and even used drawings. I was discouraged and embarrassed despite the locals patience and kindness. After a while, I realized I liked the interacting itself – I COULD communicate after all. When you said “we, as both educators and learners, not binary. We are not one or the other, on or off” that really struck a chord. All information is presented in a certain way and too often we assume someone will understand it just because we do. We are not consistently fluid, mono approach learners – much less people. And yes – we are so much more than machines, no matter what the futurists or AI geeks tell us. But that’s another conversation I hope to have with you. I feel challenged now to try harder to teach in any way I can until all of my students understand.

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  • I think you’ve nailed the storytelling bit… I can just imagine your previous self being singled out as an internet ghost by that spreadsheet, and it seems so far away to the Paula I know now. Even those of us who are labeled “techy” have our moments of reinvention when we realize that one of the quintillion “new things” out there we overlooked…[Read more]

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