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The Innovator’s Mindset Blog Post 1

I am reading an amazing book titled The Innovator’s Mindset by George Couros. The author has challenged readers and asks them, every week, to blog or post about their thoughts on the book.

Although I am a little behind, here are my thoughts for week 1. We were asked to reflect on the two following questions. So here are my thoughts. 🙂

  1. What do you see as the purpose of education?  Why might innovation be crucial in education?

I think our role as educators is to make students life-long learners. To make students curious to learn even more as they leave the classroom. It is impossible to prepare them fully for what will come later in their lives. We can only give them the tools to be able to find the solutions by themselves.if-students

With technology, finding the answer to your question is so easy… Why not simply teach them strategies for finding the answer they are looking for instead of feeding them what WE think is the correct answer.

Innovation in education should be every teacher’s goal. I am amazed that teachers are able to teach the same way, with the same material, year after year! Life changes all the time. We evolve, we learn from our mistakes, we change… we innovate! Shouldn’t schools be the same way?

  1. “Change is an opportunity to do something amazing.”  How are you embracing change to spur  innovation in your own context?

changeI try to be open to anything. I fight my own mind when my first reaction is: this would not work in my class… and try it! I let students show me new ways of doing things. I accept that their final product will not be exactly the same as what I intended in the beginning.

I am willing to have things crash and burn during a lesson and tell students that this is OK. That we tried something and it did not work. Using technology in the classroom has taught me that to innovate using those tools, it is possible that nothing will work… or that everything will be wonderful and that both options are OK. I am willing to learn and not just teach!


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Using Plickers in my ESL classroom

I discovered Plickers last year after attending a workshop and fell in love. What an easy way to add interaction to the classroom, to workshops or even to conferences. Here is an overview of what Plickers is. In the next few weeks, I will add tutorial videos, as well as ideas for using Plickers in the ESL classroom!

What is Plickers?

Plickers is an interactive tool that allows you to quickly survey a group or a classroom. It works with an app that you download to a mobile device. The app is free and works across platforms.

After downloading the app, you will need to print cards for your students. The cards can be downloaded for free in a PDF format and printed on cardboard paper or laminated. Be careful however, to laminate your cards with a matte finish, so that your mobile device is able to scan them.  It is also possible to order the cards, already laminated, from Amazon.

The last thing you will need is to launch the Plickers website and project it either on your Interactive Whiteboard or a simple projector. The website and the app from your phone will  »talk to each other » and that’s where the magic starts to happen!

Scanning Cards

The Plickers app on your mobile device can easily scan 10-15 students at a time, maybe more! You do not need to individually scan each card (which would be way too long!). You will need to allow Plickers access to your camera and you are ready to start scanning.

Students or participants get to see a blue checkmark next to their names on the computer screen when their card is scanned and know that they can put down their cards. It’s that easy!

Building Your Questions

The questions you will ask your students can be created in advance. The site allows you to create folders to gather your questions together. It is also possible to ask questions without having created anything in advance and simply asking the question orally.

You can ask multiple choice questions or true or false questions. Great for grammar review, vocabulary review or even just checking how students are doing!

The Data!

The greatest thing about Plickers, apart from the interaction and the fact that your students will get super excited, is that it allows you to collect data on the group or on individual students.

When you are done scanning your students, choosing the graph option  will allow you to show the results of the survey. In your teacher account, you also have access to all of the statistics of your group or of individual students. Anonymously, you can find out if a student has been struggling with a concept or if your entire group needs extra help.

A great way to check if your students are ready to be evaluated or if they need an extra class to practice a particular concept.

Plickers Ambassador

I am very happy to announce that I will be a Plickers Ambassador this year. This means that not only will I spread the word on Plickers being an amazing tool, but I will also have access to information on new features coming up. I will regularly update you on what is coming for Plickers and share with you new ways of using it in the ESL classroom.ambasadorbadgewhite

I also invite you to join the Facebook group: Plickers ESL that I have created so that ESL teachers can share new ways of using Plickers in the ESL classroom. You will find this group here:

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Using in Your ESL Classroom!

What is

Readtheory is a reading comprehension website. It is totally free. So far, after using it for one year, I have not seen any publicity at all on the

website. You create your student accounts with your own email so students do not receive any spam or publicity either. Don’t worry, you don’t either. You do receive news about updates to the website but that’s it!

Creating Accounts

Your first step will be to click on sign up and create a teacher account.

Once this is done, the plus sign on your main page will allow you to create a new class. I have created 6-7 classes per year with no issue so you can go ahead and create multiple groups.

Importing Your Student Accounts

As mentioned before, your students do NOT create their own account. The website allows students to create an account for free, but if they do, you will not have access to all the amazing features that come with having a student associated with a class you created.

In the section Create New Student Accounts, enter the first and last name of your students. The website works with French accents, and I have never had any issue. The job of typing all of the names it a little long but you only need to do this once at the beginning of the year. The website has announced that it is working on an option to important the names from a file, but for right now, you will need to type. 😉



Every student will have a different username, but the password is the same for every student. You can decide to have a password per group or have the same one for all of your students. You can also delete classes, delete students or archive your groups and students to keep their data.

Data on Your Students

This is where things become reallllllyyyyyyy amazing. Readtheory gives you information on the number of quizzes taken by your entire class or individual student, the number of points earned (group or individual, which can be great for motivation), average grade levels of the texts assigned to your group or individual students and average Lexile level (group or individual)

You will find this information by clicking the progress report icon at the top. It is right next to the plus sign you used to create your classes. You will first see an overview of the group and can then scroll down to see the date in each category. To see information about a particular student, you can simply click on their names.

Optional Written Responses


Readtheory offers multiple choice questions for their reading passages. It is possible, however, to activate the written response section and allow students to type their answers to a question. The written responses, however, will need to be corrected by you. Students will only receive feedback for those particular questions when you are done correcting.

Getting Started


After giving every student their password, invite students to complete the pre

test. It is the first thing they will see after signing in anyway. The pretest takes about 20 minutes to complete. I always tell students not to panic about their levels after the pretest. After all, the website cannot determine for sure the level of a student after 20 multiple choice question. It is simply to get them started. After 10-15 quizzes, the student (and teacher) will have a better idea of their level. After all, there is an element of chance in multiple choice questions!

Very important: remember that the goal of this site is not to evaluate students. This tool should not be used to replace reinvestment tasks that you will use to evaluate your students. It is simply a website to help them practice their reading skills and reading comprehension and get them to read read read some more! I DO NOT recommend using this website to evaluate your students!

The Reading Passages


Once the pretest is done, the students will be presented with their results and then invited to move on to the next reading selection. They will be assigned a first reading passage according to the level identified in the pretest. Students read the passage, click on the question tab and answer the questions. The number of questions for each passage will be different for each text. Once a student has gotten 80% and up for a few passages, the site will give them a reading passage that is a level higher. The same is true if a student does not get the passing grade for a level. The website will automatically adjust the reading passages as the student progresses or will readjust if the level was too high.

Information and Options Tab


By clicking on the information tab, the student will see the information for this text. The reading difficulty of the passage and the Lexile level will be indicated.

The option tab at the top will allow students to make the text bigger.

How I use it in class

I start by assigning the password and username to students at the computer lab. In your teacher account, there are documents that can be printed to help you out. They also have a flyer for parents (in English only, however). Once I have given all the access and made sure everything works, students are invited to complete the pretest. I warn them not to use a dictionary or Google translation since the goal is to see what they can understand on their own.

Once they are done, I invite them to continue reading! It allows all of my students to read at their level which is great for differentiation. After 10-15 quizzes, I am able to identify who needs remedial in reading strategies and I invite them to remedial where I can sit with the students and see how they could improve their reading skills.

I also invite students to continue working on the site at home. I have some parents who actually created free accounts and are using the site themselves! Some parents told me that they sit and take quizzes as a family to improve their reading skills in English!

Throughout the year, I also sometimes use the written option to vary the type of questions.

Reading comprehensions like these help students to acquire vocabulary and most importantly, confidence. By seeing their individual progress go up and not comparing themselves to other students but to themselves, they become proud of their improvement. This site also allows amazing for differentiation. For example, most of my secondary 3 students will be assigned grade 2 to grade 4 texts, but some of my students get grade 8 and even 11. They can get the challenge they deserve and need (without asking them to do extra work! I can also see who is struggling and teach specific reading strategies to those students, which gives them what they deserve and need as well!readtheorylogo

Last class I used the site… the bell rang and none of the students got up. I had to tell them to get out! (nicely, of course!). They love to see that they improved and went up a grade. I tell them that they have to set their own personal challenge for improvement and not challenge each other… and they do! After one week, some have already done more than 30 quizzes at home and improved by going up a grade and they are so proud!

Lexile and Book Selection

The Lexile section also gives you an idea of their vocabulary level. There are websites where you can search for book titles by Lexile. For example: or

This will allow you to choose a class novel or suggest books for your students. Great for building a class library as well!

So far, seems to be better suited for the high school level since some of my students will get a Grade 1 level in secondary 3, and there are no levels before that one, but you may want to try it at the grade 6 levels maybe. They may all start at grade 1 but will surely go up. 🙂

Try it and please come back and comment if you did! I’d love to see what you think!

Psst…see a typo or a link or option is no longer working? Add a comment and I’ll fix it ASAP 🙂

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Je suis un pirate

Juste avant la rentrée scolaire, j’étais conviée à une journée de formation intitulée : Teach Like a Pirate. C’est le genre de titre qui, en début d’année scolaire, me fait soupirer. En début d’année scolaire, nous sommes débordés. Je veux mes listes d’élèves, mon horaire, défaire mes boîtes, décorer ma classe et préparer mes premiers cours. Une journée complète de formation pour un prof en début d’année… ouf!

C’est donc avec réticence que j’avais envie d’aller me faire expliquer comment enseigner comme un pirate. J’enseigne au secondaire. Les jeux et les dessins, ce n’est déjà pas mon fort. Mais puisque je savais que l’atelier était donné par Isabelle Giroux (conseillère pédagogique à la CSRDN) et sa collègue Tanja Vaillancourt (enseignante à l’UQUAM et ex-conseillère elle aussi), j’étais certaine que l’atelier serait pertinent et je ne me suis pas trompée. Il fallait que je découvre c’était quoi, cette histoire de pirate!

Teach Like a Pirate

L’idée d’enseigner comme un pirate vient de l’excellent livre de Dave Burgess, un enseignant américain, qui s’intitule Teache like a Pirate. C’est le genre de livre ultra motivant que tout enseignant devrait lire… surtout en début d’année! Lors de mon dernier billet, je vous parlais de changement en classe et dans le milieu scolaire et ce livre fait suite parfaitement à cette philosophie.

Deux bonnes questions

Deux questions m’ont particulièrement marquée et me suivront cette année, chaque fois que je donnerai un cours. J’invite tous les enseignants à se poser ces questions :

  1. Si vos élèves n’étaient pas obligés d’être dans votre classe, est-ce qu’ils y seraient ?
  2. Pourriez-vous vendre des billets aux élèves pour certains de vos cours ?

De mon côté la réponse est la suivante :

  1. Peut-être la moitié…
  2. J’ai un ou deux projets dans l’année où je crois que oui.

Je me donne donc comme objectif de pouvoir répondre à la hausse à ces questions cette année. Je me suis même imprimé la question afin de la coller sur mon bureau au travail. Elle me forcera à me rappeler qu’il faut absolument que mes cours soient intéressants pour les élèves. Pour la deuxième, je passerai plus de temps à observer mes élèves pour voir leur réaction pendant les activités et prendre en note celles qui sont les plus gagnantes.

L’importance du rapport avec ses élèves

Il y a quelques années, j’avais reçu une réponse troublante de la part d’une élève lors d’un questionnaire de fin d’année. Cette élève m’avait dit : je ne suis pas certaine que vous savez mon nom. Mon cœur a brisé en mille miettes. Je me suis promis que plus jamais un élève ne se sentirait comme ça dans ma classe.

Ce n’est pas toujours facile d’établir un rapport avec les élèves au secondaire. Cette année j’ai 6 groupes d’une trentaine d’élèves. Pas toujours évident d’avoir du temps pour chacun. Mais j’ai comme objectif chaque année, de les connaître du mieux que je peux.

Dans son livre, Dave Burgess propose de commencer les trois premiers cours avec des activités pour faire connaissance et non par un banal PowerPoint ou l’explication des règles de classe. Ouf! Quelle idée déstabilisante ! Moi qui avais préparé mon beau PowerPoint cet été… Le changement, pour qu’il fonctionne, doit être gérable et attaqué par petites bouchées. Lorsqu’on a ajouté un petit quelque chose à notre routine et que ceci est intégré, on peut continuer à ajouter.


J’ai donc décidé de faire un moitié-moitié. J’ai divisé mon PowerPoint de début d’année pour qu’il soit plus court. Suite à ma courte présentation, j’ai trouvé des activités d’équipe qui m’ont permis d’observer mes élèves. Celle qui a le mieux fonctionné est le Marshmallow Challenge. Il s’agit pour des équipes de 4 de monter la plus haute tour possible en utilisant 20 spaghettis, un mètre de corde et un mètre de ruban adhésif. La guimauve doit se trouver en haut de la tour. Les élèves avaient 18 minutes et devaient parler en anglais pour réaliser l’épreuve.

Ce que ça m’a donné? Un aperçu des preneurs de risques, des leaders, des démotivés, des fonceurs en anglais comme en prototype, des positifs et des négatifs. Bien sûr, je ne juge aucun élève sur la base de ces 18 minutes, mais j’ai pu voir leurs personnalités, leurs craintes et leurs doutes ressortir. J’ai pu circuler et jaser, questionner, encourager les élèves.

L’épreuve m’a aussi permis de leur faire un petit discours très philosophique sur le travail d’équipe et la prise de risque, qui est essentielle à l’apprentissage. D’ailleurs, les enfants de maternelle réussissent mieux cette épreuve que les ingénieurs !

J’ai l’intention de continuer d’appliquer les principes de l’enseignement en tant que pirate cette année. Je me désole de bien des choses dans le domaine de l’éducation. Je n’ai pas le pouvoir de changer grand-chose, mais je crois qu’en améliorant continuellement ma pédagogie, je serai en mesure de faire avancer les choses à ma façon. Je crois que comme enseignant, c’est notre responsabilité que de faire avancer les choses. On prépare nos grands pour la vie adulte. C’est une énorme responsabilité ! C’est pour cela que je serai un pirate cette année!

Note: Je m’efforce d’écrire dans le meilleur français possible. N’hésitez pas à me faire remarquer une coquille ou une faute. Même Antidote n’est pas parfait et la technologie ne remplace pas l’oeil humain 🙂 L’erreur sera corrigée promptement!



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