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:
Canadian Parents for French:
French Street:

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!



“Oh snap, no tap!” Paying with an Apple Watch – My Experiment at Toronto Retailers

Anyone who knows me won’t be surprised that I dove in and bought the latest Apple Watch, yet another gadget to add to my ever growing tech collection! Luckily I was able to score a deal on Kijiji, those who know me also know I hate paying full price for things if I don’t have to! In this post I’ll tell you all about Apple Pay with an Apple Watch and where you can use it in Canada, and my experience at local Toronto retailers.

I absolutely love my Apple Watch, but was a bit skeptical of the notion of “Apple Pay” and paying for things from my wrist.  I decided to conduct an experiment at local Toronto retailers to combine my love of technology and shopping…my friend Tamara and I hit up the mall and the mission was to try to pay for as many things (that I was already buying) as possible with my new wrist wallet, that sounds weird, but we’ll just go with it.

Let’s start from the beginning, before we went to the mall I had to load all of my cards onto my iPhone ApplePay Mrs.Geek Chic1(and WApplePay Mrs.Geek Chic2atch) via the ApplePay Mrs.Geek Chic3Wallet” App that comes on all new iPhone models. You’ll only have to do this once. I loaded 2 credit cards and one debit card. It was an easy process, and kind of fun too! I used the iPhone camera to load my cards, the camera somehow registers the name and numbers on the card and pulls them up onto the iPhone screen so you don’t even have to type out all the numbers. Nice! Then there were security measures and codes I had to get via secure email from my banks (BMO & CIBC) in order to finalize the card-adding process.

The Wallet App “Pay” part only allows you to add debit or credit cards, but I wanted to have all of my loyalty cards (remember I like to save a buck!) on my watch as well…so I found another App called “Stocard” that allows you to scan in your loyalty/store cards and keeps them on your phone/watch for you. I loaded all of my loyalty cards similarly to the Wallet App, they have a list of frequently used cards, you click it then it prompts you to scan the card. If the card has a barcode you scan it and the number automatically gets stored in the app for you. Here are a couple screenshots from the Stocard App on my iPhone.

Stocard Mrs. Geek Chic
Screenshot of Stocard Loyalty Card App
Stocard Mrs. Geek Chic2
Sreenshot of Stocard App “adding cards”














Now that everything was loaded onto my watch and phone it was time for a trip to the mall. I tried to pay with my watch every time I made a purchase. I quickly figured out that only stores that have “tap” / “contactless payment” compatible machines worked with my watch. Look for the following symbols at the checkout: Tap Pay Logos

Here’s a chart that shows where it worked and where it didn’t based on a few trips to local merchants:Apple Pay Chart Mrs. Geek Chic

Here are some photos of my Apple Watch in action:


In the end I was pretty impressed with the ease of use and functionality of the Apple Watch for using Apple Pay and being able to quickly make purchases without searching through my purse for my wallet and fiddling with all of my cards. However, I was hoping more stores would be equipped and that maybe even I’d be able to leave my purse that weighs a brick at home for future shopping trips. As of today (July 2016) there aren’t enough retailers that have compatible “tap” or “contactless payment” machines to be able to pay with the Apple Watch everywhere. I’m sure as time goes on more and more stores will upgrade to include this feature. For now, I’m going to have to continue to carry my heavy purse around with me so I can avoid “Oh snap, no tap!”* situations!

–Note that Apple Pay will only work in stores with iPhones and Apple Watches, it won’t work on iPad devices as of now.


(As of July 2016, I will update this list as I learn about more stores)
-Apple Store
-Canadian Tire
-Chapter’s Indigo
-Giant Tiger
-Mark’s Work Warehouse
-Best Buy
-Petro Canada
-London Drugs
-Jean Coutu
-7 Eleven
-Shopper’s Drug Mart (Optimum card scanned too!)
-Dollar Tree
-Call It Spring

-Tim Horton’s
-Taco Bell
-Pizza Hut
-On the Go rest stops
-Crepe de Licious
-David’s Tea

-Pizza Pizza
-TTC (Toronto Transit Commission)
-Air Canada
-Ticket Master

Don’t forget to “watch” 😉 for Apply Pay retailers in Canada and let me know if you come across any others. Happy shopping!


*Kudos to Tamara for coming up with the “Oh snap, no tap!” expression!


GeoGuessr – An Addictive Geography Game to Try in Your Classroom

Geoguessr Logo

I recently heard about an awesome online game called GeoGuessr. It’s a game that drops you in random places around the world using Google Street View, then you have to guess where you are by thinking critically, finding clues, reading signs, looking at foliage, etc. It’s so addictive! The teacher in me immediately started thinking of ways to use this cool Ed Tech tool in the classroom. I’d probably try this with grade 3 and up.

-Critical thinking
-Problem solving
-Social Studies
-Mapping skills
-21st Century Skills
-Media Literacy

To play the game simply visit

You can choose to play “single player” or “challenge mode” against other people by sending a link to your opponent(s). You don’t need to have an account to play, but you can open up more features like saving your scores, creating your own maps, getting game stats, etc. if you create an account and log in. There are also preset games of famous places, cities, countries or continents if you’re not into landing anywhere in the world. Here are a few examples:
Famous Places Mrs. Geek Chic GeoguessrParis Mrs. Geek Chic GeoguessrJapan Mrs. Geek Chic Geoguessr

Here are some other screenshots of the game:
Geoguessr Mrs. Geek Chic

Geoguessr Mrs. Geek Chic

Geoguessr Mrs. Geek Chic

Here are a few GIFs of me playing the game:

Geoguessr GIF Mrs. Geek Chic
The one above is in southern Mexico, it was hard because there isn’t much to go on.

Geoguessr GIF Mrs. Geek ChicThis one was rare because you usually end up on a street or a dirt road, but this time I landed inside a building! I looked around and it was pretty simple to find clues (a lot easier than above!). By zooming in on the poster on the wall behind the bar I found that we were at a winery called “Pillsbury”, then a Google Search helped me figure out it was in Arizona.
Geoguessr GIF Mrs. Geek ChicYou make your guess by dropping a pin in the map on the bottom right of the screen. The closer you are the more points you get and then it tells you exactly how far away you are from the correct location. The game is played with 5 rounds, and gives you a total score at the end of your rounds.

It’s a neat game to add to a classroom learning/literature/social studies centre or to explore parts of the world you’re currently studying. You could take it one step further and have students create maps and games for their classmates then have them explore each other’s creations. There are so many possibilities, and my bet is you’ll have fun playing too!

Please leave a comment below if you think of any other ways to use GeoGuessr in the classroom.

Happy exploring!


French Media Triangle – Triangle des médias

If you’re here I’m sure you already know what a Media Triangle is used for, but for those who don’t it’s basically an easy way to have students read and analyze media forms and texts. The triangle prompts the children with questions to help them look at media from different angles and perspectives to help them create their own meaning. Here are a couple examples of Media Triangles in English:MediaTriangle Example2 @MrsGeekChic

MediaTriangleExample @MrsGeekChic









I used to only teach Media Literacy in English for my junior classes because it is it’s own strand in the Ontario curriculum and didn’t explicitly exist in the French Immersion primary curriculum. However, now with the new FSL curriculum came some pleasant changes and additional expectations rolled into Reading, Writing, Listening & Speaking that involve media literacy! I was thrilled, but that meant yet another translation because I wasn’t able to find a French version of the Media Triangle that suited my needs in the classroom. With some searching online I found this French lesson/unit plan from which contains a Media Triangle version in French on page 38 which they adapted from ‘A Guide to Effective Literacy Instruction (Grades 4 – 6); Volume 7: Media Literacy, Ontatio Ministry of Education‘. I decided to jazz it up and make it more interactive for my students. I made a plain version that could be a poster or a handout and another one on which the students can answer questions in text boxes right inside the digital GAFE file online.

Here they are:
Click on the images to make yourself a copy, or see shared folder below.

Triangle des médias @MrsGeekChic


Triangle des médias avec réponses @MrsGeekChic





Triangle des médias FOLDER


Please feel free to download, share, make a copy and modify to your needs!


From Intolerance to Acceptance with Patience and a Whole Lot of In-Between – Guest Post by Tamara Bolotenko

My good friend Tamara Bolotenko (@TamaraBolotenko) has been doing some wonderful things at her new school this year and wanted to share some of it with all of you! She’s written this amazing post in honour of International Day to End Homophobia & Transphobia (May 17th, 2016) and has some great resources to share. Check it out!






These are words we hear on a daily basis. Words that, sadly, describe many current societies around the world; societies in which fear of the unknown and distrust of differences propagates hatred, incites violence, leads to oppression, and even translates into discriminatory government policies.






These are all words that we hear often as well, whether at work or in the media, words used to describe utopian societies in which individuals with different ethnicities, cultures, races, religious orientations, genders, sexual orientations, and other diversities characteristics and histories, live together in peace and harmony. And not only do they co-exist, but they also engage in positive interactions with one another on multiple levels many times a day, creating pluralistic communities.

Screen Shot 2016-07-03 at 11.18.19 AMOne thing, however, that we do not often hear about, is how to get from a world of hatred to a world of peace. How does that shift from intolerance to acceptance occur? Well, the answer is not straightforward; several conditions have to be in place in order for it to be possible to create a pluralistic culture in which every member is accepted and valued precisely for those differences, that in many societies, are reviled.


Open-mindedness and Non-judgment.

People have to be ready and willing to learn about others’ ways of seeing and doing things, without judgment.

Listening and Sharing.

TBolotenko2People must be able to and willing to listen actively and to explain one’s own experiences in order to learn about other groups and in order to teach about themselves. They must be open to and desiring of engagement in positive and respectful dialogue. This is not to say that everyone must eventually agree on everything, rather that we learn to discuss feelings, rationales and thought processes without yelling or screaming or creating “winners” and “losers”. In the end, we should be able to gain another perspective and that makes everyone a winner.

Introspection and Improvement.

Here is where the process gets a little more active, as individuals will have to make time and space for self-reflection and make attempts to understand why they act in a certain way. The goal of introspection is to create a deeper understanding on oneself and others and oneself in relation to others in order to find ways in which to improve oneself. Everyone can improve at something. We are all works-in-progress.

Cognitive Dissonance.


Enduring those periods of confusion when preconceived notions about certain cultures, religions, genders, races, etc. don’t quite match up with the reality of one’s experiences is paramount. No one likes to feel confused and anxious and it is easy to throw in the towel at this stage and revert to prior stereotypes, but that just takes one back to a world of intolerance and prejudice. Stay here. Endure. Overcome.

Patience and Forgiveness.

Change doesn’t happen overnight and committing to an accepting, heterogeneous, pluralistic society is a lifetime commitment. Forgiving yourself when you’ve made an assumption and trying again is key. Forgiving others when they have made incorrect assumptions and having the patience to educate them is also what this process is all about.

In order to try to educate students about how to move from hatred to love, intolerance to acceptance, homogeneity to diversity, exclusion to inclusion, I’ve created a set of 3 posters depicting words associated with a hateful society, a society in-progress and a pluralistic society. Since FSL resources are sometimes hard to come by, I’ve translated them into French as well. Please use freely and share widely. I know that change doesn’t come with a couple of posters, but they are a good starting point for engaging in meaningful dialogue.

I’ve also created a set of 3 posters promoting safe spaces, inclusivity and harmony using the LGBQT flag as the background (in French too!).

Happy “International Day to End Homophobia and Transphobia”. On May 17th, how will you mark this important day with your students?

Here’s the shared folder containing all 12 of Tamara’s posters. 

FOLDER of Bilingual Posters by Tamara


I’d like to thank Tamara for being the first guest contributor to Mrs. Geek Chic! She’s an amazing teacher and friend, go follow her on Twitter I promise you she’ll be a great addition to your PLN!