BreakoutEDU Digital – Online Escape Games for Students

Want a fun activity for your class that promotes communication, collaboration, critical thinking, problem-solving and creativity? Check out BreakoutEDU Digital Online Escape Games!

What is it exactly?

  • An online digital escape game co-founded by Justin Birckbichler and Mari Venturino
  • Based on the BreakoutEDU kit educational games from James Sanders & Mark Hammons
  • All is organized and played on one website
  • Google Forms are used to make the locks (using data validation) and embedded into Google Sites
  • Games promote problem-solving, collaboration and can tie into any curriculum area
  • Find online clues that unlock the different types of locks in the Google Form on the site (you don’t need to find the locks in any particular order!)
  • Click around, find links, read carefully and use your “escape room” mindset to break out
  • All you need is an internet connection and a link to one of the games

Give it a try!

I’ve created two bilingual similar (but not identical!) games for a recent conference presentation. Feel free to try them out yourself or with your students.

Converse Confusion Online Escape Games - Larissa Aradj Le méli-mélo des Converse Online Escape Games - Larissa Aradj
English version: Converse Confusion (

French (FSL) version: Le méli-mélo des Converse (

Here are some photos of TDSB Google Camp attendees posing after successfully breaking out!
Online Escape Games - Larissa Aradj French Online Escape Games - Larissa Aradj
I made the posters for the purpose of posing for celebration photos. You can find the folder to download and print them here or by clicking on the shared folder below.

Breakout Posters - Converse


As I mentioned above, these games are an amazing way to promote collaboration, problem-solving, communication, teamwork, critical thinking, creativity for students…and the list goes on!

I also love that as I listen to conversations while my students are playing, I can immediately hear:

  • Who my leaders are
  • Who needs to work on leadership skills
  • Who needs to work on growth mindset
  • Who my good communicators are
  • Who thinks outside the box
  • Who gives up right away (this has never actually happened because they’re always so engaged and eager to figure it out!)

For more online escape games check out the BreakoutEDU Digital site and the Sandbox for crowdsourced games by teachers like you and me! Sylvia Duckworth has also created some amazing TEAM Digital Breakouts with a Canadian theme (both French & English versions, too!), check them out and read all about it here.

If you’d like to know more and learn how to make BreakoutEDU Digital online escape games yourself please check out my presentation slide deck below inspired by & 

Thanks for reading. Happy breakout’ing, hope you enjoy these online escape games!

Larissa Aradj

Pic Forward Global Green Screen Challenge

Pic Forward Logo Mrs. Geek Chic

What is Pic Forward?

Pic Forward is a global green screen challenge for students, teachers and schools. The idea is to have people all around the world edit our monthly green screen photos, then to “Pic Forward” or “pass it on” via social media to other classes so they can participate too. My grade 4 & 5 students are leading this project and want to try to spread creativity around the globe.

So far we’ve had Pic Forward participants from 4 countries! Check out our participant map below:

How Can You Participate?

Taking part is easy, all you need is an editing app and some creativity! The website I built with my grade 4 & 5 students has everything you need in order to participate in our Pic Forward Global Green Screen Challenge! My classes made an introduction video, nomination videodigital flyers, rules, and a “how-to edit” page to help promote the project. You can check out what previous participants have created here. Interested? Please fee free to follow us on social media channels –  @PicForward on Twitter, @PicForward on Instagram and Facebook. We hope you’ll be in touch!

Pic Forward How-to @MrsGeekChic

Check out to participate in the fun today, we can’t wait to meet you and see your creations!

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How it All Started

During our school’s Halloween celebration last year many students were dressed in amazing and original costumes. I decided to capture their creativity on camera, so I pulled out my homemade green screen, hung it up in the gym and took pictures of dressed up students in front of it. They loved that we could change the background to add context to their costumes!

I wrote a post on our Lord Lansdowne PS school blog to share all of the Halloween green screened photos, you can check that out here. The children loved it so much that I wanted to come up with a way to continue this beyond Halloween!

It was actually a physical education challenge called Burp It On  that my students and I had participated in the year before that inspired the idea to go global with Pic Forward. I thought, why not take photos in front of the green screen then see what backgrounds other students and teachers around the world would put into them. It was like a modern day Flat Stanley or Postcard Pete, do you remember them? (Thanks, Michelle Armstrong for making this connection and reminding me of our old school paper friends!) By participating and running Pic Forward my students get to travel the world without leaving our classroom, plus it lent to creating potential relationships and collaboration with classes in other provinces, states and countries.

Curriculum Connections

As a Media Literacy teacher, my goal is to encourage my students to make responsible and positive decisions regarding their use of technology. Many of my lessons are centred around {digital} citizenship, positive digital footprints, healthy living/relationships and global competencies. My overall teaching goal is for my students to be excellent global citizens online and in life in general. I can’t think of a better way to introduce these topics than with an authentic project where we can think critically about social media and our uses of digital tools.

Some of the main themes and topics my classes will touch on through the course of this year-long project are:
Digital Citizenship
Internet Safety
Problem Solving
Digital Fluency
Reading and Writing
Media Forms & Literacy
Positive Digital Footprints
Healthy Living
Critical and Creative Skills
Global Citizenship & Character

You’re nominated! What’s your green??

A huge thank you to everyone who has already taken part in our project, we’re looking forward to many more creative pics in the future.

Pic Forward Student Blog

**My students recently decided they want to share their Green Screen learning with a student blog. Check it out here:

Happy green screening!

Là où je dors – An Interactive Website and Videos for FSL Classrooms

With the updates to the FSL curriculum in Ontario, we now have Listening and Speaking as two separate strands instead of the previous stand-alone “Oral” strand. For the Listening portion of the curriculum, I’ve found TFO’s Idéllo platform to be a great place for students to watch controlled content videos and for teachers to find ample resources, all in French. You can search for videos by grade level, subject, type, theme or skill – there are so many to choose from! Another bonus is that it’s free if your school board has a subscription. One of my favourite video series from Idéllo also has its own website, it’s called “Là où je dors“, and it is completely free.

Là où je dors is an interactive website with a selection of videos of Francophone children from all over the world who each give a glimpse into their lives and bedrooms. I love that this site exposes my students to several French accents and dialects that they wouldn’t necessarily hear here in Toronto.

Here’s a look at the website:

I had my students begin with the ‘Carte du monde’ tab in order to explore what areas of the world the Francophone children were from. Each star is a location on the map that features information and videos about specific children.
Là où je dors CARTE - Mrs. Geek Chic

When you click on the “Chambres” tab you can see an interactive photo of the children’s bedrooms. Certain items in the photo are hyperlinked and you can read about the objects in the room. The child’s name appears on the left and you can choose to view their video or click “Son Histoire” to look at one-page overviews of their story.

Là où je dors - Mrs. Geek Chic

Here’s an example of the one-page overviews, you can choose the tabs along the top to view “Son pays”, “Sa maison”, “Ses passions” or “Bric-à-brac” – there’s one for each Francophone child.

Là où je dors - Mrs. Geek Chic

There’s more! Within the Idéllo platform, you can find “à l’écoute” downloadable PDF teaching tools (les fiches) that go along with each of the Là où je dors videos. They include curriculum links, language acquisition strategies, assessment suggestions and lesson ideas. Here’s an example of one of the many “fiches” available for this video series.

Là où je dors FICHES - Mrs. Geek Chic

To find the above PDFs sign into your Idéllo account at (top right) –> search “Là où je dors” in the “Search by Keywords” field (top right) –> go to “Filter” (on the left) –> click “Type” –> Check off “Thematic Folder” and you’ll see them in the results (page 2-6 of results because the videos show up on page 1). Here’s a gif to walk you through it.

Last month I was featured in their French publication called Idéllo Magazine in the “Coup de coeur” section, I wrote about “Là où je dors”.

idello Là où je dors Magazine Mrs. Geek Chic

Là où je dors Magazine -Mrs. Geek Chic

Here’s the link to the full online Idéllo Magazine from December:

I’m heading to TFO’s Les Tablettistes Conference in Ottawa on Friday, looking forward to a great day of bilingual learning!

Give Là où je dors and Idéllo a try, I’m sure your students will enjoy them as much as mine do!

Two TDSB teachers selected for prestigious Google Certified Innovator Program #TOR16

Recently the Toronto District School Board published a Web Story about our Google Certified Innovator accomplishment. It’s an honour to be recognized along with Zélia Capitão-Tavares!

Google Certified Innovator Web Story
Here’s the link to the full Web Story:

I also previously wrote two blog posts about my journey to GCI: Mindset Matters and some Takeaways from the Innovator Academy.

2016 was an amazing year for me professionally, looking forward to what’s to come in 2017!

Happy New Year to all!

Google Drawings 101

Larissa's Google Drawings 101 | Mrs. Geek ChicGoogle Drawings is one of my favourite G Suite tools, it truly is the ultimate blank canvas. Not to mention, everything I show in these tutorials about images, cropping, WordArt, etc. can also be used in Google Slides!

What is Google Drawings?

  • Don’t let the name fool you, you don’t need to be an artist or amazing drawer or artist to use this tool–I’m not!
  • Drawings is a simple GAFE/G Suite  tool in which you can:
    • annotate on visuals and photos;
    • create illustrations, posters, graphic organizers, digital manipulatives and more.
  • Think of it as Google’s version of “Paint”…but better!

How can you use Google Drawings in your classroom?

Google Drawings Examples | Mrs. Geek Chic

Outside of the classroom and school context, I use Google Drawings often for creating things like logos, blog banners, social media flyers, photo collages, promotional posters, website icons and buttons, the list goes on. It’s a very versatile G Suite tool that can be used for almost anything!

Based on postive feedback from my “The Ultimate Blank Canvas – Creating wtih Google Drawings 101” workshop, I made some YouTube tutorials to compliment that training session.

Here are my 5 Google Drawings 101 tutorial videos: Intro & Shapes, All About Images, Creating with Shapes, WordArt and Shadowing Letters and How to Crop Into Shapes. Check them out below or on my YouTube Channel.


Here’s the Slide Deck from my training session:

Hoping this post helps you get creative and you enjoy Google Draw as much as I do.

Happy digital drawing!

Introducing Sketchollage – Sketchnoting & Photo Collages Come Together!

Sketchollage – a new creative way to express ideas, notes and experiences in your sktechnotes.


Recently my friends Marie-Andrée Ouimet and Sylvia Duckworth inspired me to start sketchnoting. It’s basically like taking creative digital notes with drawings, logos, sketches and shapes mixed with handwriting. I’ve made a few now, they can be found here.

Sketchnoting is a way for me to sit back, decompress and wind down from a busy day. I can let my creativity go wild, even with my almost inexistent art/drawing skills. Despite my new love for this new hobby, I was realizing that my lack of artistic skills was making it harder and taking much longer for me to really express myself in my sketchnotes.  Not being able to depict people, the core of all of this being my PLN & relationships, made me think my sketchnote was missing some key aspects.

I wanted to paint a picture to convey my experience at the Bring IT Together (#BIT16) conference over the past 2 days…wait…”paint a PICTURE”…hummm…why not add photos into a sketchnote to help convey what happened at the conferece that way?

That’s where Sketchollage was born, it’s a mix of SKETCHNOTING & PHOTO COLLAGE. I feel pretty good about my first attempt because I was able to add photos of the sessions and capture smiles and energy on my camera then put it all together. Furthermore, it’s fun to add borders, frames, speech bubbles and designs over the photos, kind of like a digital scrapbooking.

Here’s my first ever sketchollage, it’s a mashup of my 2 days in Niagara Falls presenting and learning at #BIT16:


I am going to continue to sketch-smash and include photos in my sketchnotes from now on when I can!

If you try it, make sure to use the hashtag #Sketchollage and please share it with me, I’d love to see all of the creativity out there!

Happy sketchollaging….!!


My Takeaways from #TOR16 – Google Certified Innovator Academy

As most of you know I was lucky to be able to take part in the latest Google Certified Innovator Academy. After the 3 days that the 34 of us spent together there were quite a few discussions with my fellow #TOR16 Innovators around “how do we explain our experiences at the Innovator Academy to others when we get back to work?” and “It’s so hard to put it all into words…” So, I decided to try to tell the story of my experience through drawings, images and photos. My recent obsession with Sketchnoting (thanks to Sylvia Duckworth and Marie-Andrée Ouimet) inspired me to “draw” my takeaways from #TOR16 instead of writing them out. As a visual learner, I thought I’d do a blog post that contained limited writing and more images and drawings to help tell the story of the 3 amazing days I spent with like-minded Educators here in Toronto at the Google Offices! The sketchnote I drew is packed very full, similar to what my brain felt like after the Academy! GCI Academy was honestly the best professional development I’ve had in my 12 years as an Educator!
Here’s my attempt at a sketechnote:
(It was so hard to fit everything in!!)
Larissa's Sketchnote #TOR16I’ve started a Flickr Feed where I’m posting my sketchnotes. You can find it here.

Here are some photos from the GCI Academy:

I’m so honoured to be part of this group of awesome Educators who want to transform education. I made connections and friendships that will last well beyond the academy! Thank you to everyone who made this a reality for me, I can’t wait to see where these opportunities take all of us!

If you want written accounts of the Academy, check out these wonderful blog posts by some of my other #TOR16 tribe members:
Chris Webb
Isabelle Lavoie
Charity Helman
Mandi Tolen
Steven Morrison Day 1, Day 2, Day 3
Brian Costello

As they say, “an image is worth 1000 words!” Thanks for viewing 😉


Mindset Matters: Larissa’s Journey to Google Certified Innovator Academy #TOR16 #GoogleEI

Techie educators unite for #PubPD Twitter chat in a Toronto bar!

I’m not really sure where to begin for this post, I have so much going through my mind at this moment! I’ll start back in May, shortly after being turned down from the #COL16 cohort of Google Certified Innovator Program. On May 26th I attended #PubPD at a local Toronto bar with my usual like-minded techie educator friends. I knew there would be lots of talk of the fact that I didn’t get accepted, and I nearly didn’t go, but I forced myself because I always come home refreshed and inspired after these #PubPD meet-ups. Everyone was super positive, gave me great feedback and I was told numerous times to be sure to apply again. Even with the support system around me, I could still feel that fixed mindset trying to sneak through and convince me that it was “safer” not to apply a second time so I didn’t have to go through the rejection feelings again. As I drove home after that PubPD night I still hadn’t convinced myself I could go through all of the hard work and spend so much time coming up with a new innovative idea, slide deck, video and everything that goes along with the application process.

THEN…as I’m driving down a dark Lawrence Avenue at 10:00 p.m. on my way home from PubPD that same night,  I look up from the steering wheel and see this sign:
WHAT?? I must be dreaming…I turned my car around and had to go back to get a photo of this “sign” (literally!) and to double check that I wasn’t seeing things.
When I get back there I see this:
…and several other messages about water polo tryouts and exam schedules scrolling quickly across the screen until finally, it came back to the one I wanted to see. “Success happens when you choose not to quit”.

This meant that as I was driving I had to look up in the right direction and be driving by at the PERFECT MOMENT to even catch the sign with those words on it in the first place. I took this as my sign that I needed to apply to GCI again. Fate, maybe? Who knows…but that sign was enough to kick my fixed mindset in the arse and keep me moving forward with my hopes to change FSL education for the better.

I decided to apply again, take the growth mindset route and hope for the best!

Spring forward to September 6th, 2016 the day we found out if we would be accepted into the #TOR16 cohort. It was the first day back to school for me after summer break, and because they didn’t email us until the evening it felt like the LONGEST.DAY.EVER! Then at around 8 p.m. while in the car on the way to the walk-in after hours emergency clinic for my son (because he has to get sick that same day to keep it more interesting, obviously!) my phone beeps, I look down and see this:
GCI Acceptance Email Aradj

WHAAA??? My poor husband had a screaming child in the back seat and me screaming with joy in the front seat!

It was official, I made it! I was accepted to the first ever Canadian GCI cohort that would be taking place in my very own city of Toronto (#TOR16)! It’s hard to describe the feelings, but I kept thinking back to that sign…I’m not sure if I believe in fate, but regardless if I do or not I learned a lot about myself and the importance of growth mindset. The notion of “growth mindset” is something we repeat to our students all the time but I think as adults we forget to apply it to our own lives sometimes. I need to continue to remind myself that success DOES and CAN happen when you don’t give up!

I want to thank all of the people who motivate and inspire me all the time, especially those who attend #PubPD regularly! You know who you are!

Larissa.RafranzTOR16Also, I want to give a shout out to my amazing GCI Coach and friend Rafranz Davis (@RafranzDavis) who has pushed me to think about and not be afraid to tell my stories even if writing isn’t my strong suit!

Takeaways from my experience at
TOR16 Academy blog post coming soon.

Thanks for reading, and please try to remember that mindset DOES matter!


FSL Website List for Teachers


I updated my collection of FSL teaching websites over the summer. I wanted to do a quick post to share it with all of you. This is a work in progress and will be updated often as I find new French sites for teachers. I’ve divided it up by subject to make it easier to find what you’re looking for. You can see the list on its own separate page in the tabs at the top of my blog.

Il était une histoire:
Brain Pop:
Weekly News in Slow French:
Journal des enfants:
Il était deux fois…:
Apprendre le français avec TV5 Monde:
Animated story with words: Le match de foot
Ebook kids:
Free Rice:çais
1jour 1actu: News Headlines & Articles for children:

NetMaths (Free for Ontario educators):
La souris-web:
Les champions des maths:
Kangourou des mathématiques:
e-learning for kids:
Branché (OPHEA):
École Branchée:
Zoe et Molly
La Souris-Web – Internet Safety:

Musée Virtuel:
Ça bouge au Canada:
Là où je dors:
Musée canadien de l’histoire – l’Égypte:

Brain Pop:
Bout de gomme -science:
Hector le castor – agence de l’eau:
Planète astronomie:
Jurassic world – dinosaures:
Cybersciences junior:

Librairie Ineractive: *NEW
Quia – French games & activities:
Ressources pour les profs:
Learn Alberta Resource Bank:

ExoFiches: *NEW!
Moufle Clipart Bank: *NEW!
France TV Education:
Google Feud en français:
TV5 Monde:
Taka s’amuser:
TFO éducation:
Brain Pop:
Chateau Jean-Jean:
La Souris-Web:
Le grenier de Bisou TFO:

French Teacher.Net:
List of French Internet Sites:
Bonjour de France:

Please feel free to leave a comment below with your “go to” French teaching sites.


Coding in French – Free Printable Coding Blocks

It’s a pleasure to have a guest blog post today by Ashley Soltesz, a fellow French teacher who like me is on a mission to share French resources with others so we don’t have to keep recreating the wheel! She’s made some amazing free French printable coding blocks you can use in your classrooms, enjoy! 

Free Printable French Coding Blocks @MrsGeekChicA primary goal for me as a French Language Teacher is for my students to see the relevance in learning to communicate in French, be it in Reading, Writing, or Speaking.  I want my students to know that what they do in English, they can do in French and in turn, receive many opportunities because of this skill that they have.  If, somewhere in the future, my students think back to the time spent in my classroom, I want them to remember that what they learned, was useful and important to them.  This includes use of the French language to discuss and teach others about their interests.  A large interest of students (of various ages) is in technology.  Many are starting to develop an interest in coding and creating using different forms of technology. Coding encourages students to try something new; to create something they thought was impossible; to use a new language to communicate; and to use critical thinking skills to solve problems.

But, as many Core French teachers are on a cart, or if a French teacher is in a classroom, they may not have access to the technology to permit this type of learning when many rooms have more than 30 students and fewer tools to use.

While using twitter one night, I saw a teacher using coding blocks.  Hand’s on, tangible, printed blocks.  No actually technology was involved.  I loved that this was a fun and easy way to include coding for French learners.  I googled the blocks and found them.  (  I knew that these blocks could help my students, but I needed them in French.  I asked on Twitter, on Facebook, anywhere I could.  They were nowhere to be found.  So I decided to make them and I would like to share them with you all.  You can find them here: (or in the folder below). This link will take you to the blocks that I have made and other helpful documents.

I have created two sets:

1) a small set for centers (to be printed on 8.5” x 11” paper); and,

2) a larger set (to be printed on 11” x 17” paper) for use in more open spaces (i.e. gymnasium)).  

I am working on editing, and revising these blocks as needed.  The language is from the Scratch Website so that if students want, they can transfer their knowledge to the Scratch platform.  I wanted to have a tool that is both useful and transferable from one classroom to another.

I printed off some, laminated them, and then cut them out.  They fit together like a puzzle!  By laminating them, the students can fill in the blanks using dry-erase markers for words, values or whatever is required, and then reuse them over and over again.

free French printable coding blocks1 @MrsGeekChic


Now I’m wondering: How can I use these blocks to further my students knowledge in ALL subject content?  I’m not sure, but I’ve put together some ideas for primary (I’m teaching grade 2 French Immersion in the fall).  You can find them here: Please feel free to add to the Doc and let us know how you’ve used coding blocks in your classroom!

free French printable coding blocks3 @MrsGeekChicfree French printable coding blocks2 @MrsGeekChic

Do you have other ideas?  How would you use these in your classroom? I would like to know and share the ideas in this PLN that is quickly growing.  Join me in sharing ideas and pictures on Twitter this upcoming year (use the hashtags: #FSLchat #FRIMM #CODINGinFSL).

-Ashley Soltesz


Here is the folder with everything you need to get coding “en français” with your students!

Printable French Scratch Coding Blocks Folder


Have fun with this great free French resource! Happy unplugged paper coding!