3 Teacher Tips Thursday: Nov. 12th Edition

This week’s 3rd edition of 3 Teacher Tips Thursday comes from TCDSB secondary teacher Nicholas McCowan.

Below are 3 simple yet effective resources broken up into 3 categories:
– Great Ideas
– Online Tools
– Teacher PD

Enjoy 3 Teacher Tips Thursday. Hope you find it resourceful.


I’m a huge advocate for developing student voice in my classroom.  One way I go about doing this is to start each lesson with a Random Daily Fact. This fact can be written on the board, projected on a slide or given orally in a discussion setting. This strategy was introduced to me by Sandro Mancino, one of my fave teachers, during my time at Cardinal Newman high school. 

He called it “The Wild Wacky World.”  He’d read segments of articles from the newspaper to get us engaged in that day’s lesson.  It set the tone for the day and encouraged students who don’t typically participate to engage with the material.

Students who are unsure about the course content are afforded the opportunity to be involved in classroom discussions.

In my class I use the Infact-Daily Random Facts app with my own students to help me decide which fact I want to post to steer the conversation in an intended direction. 

The app categorizes factoids for you to help with your selection.  Starting the day with an open-ended discussion alerts students to my expectation for participation and engagement. 

Some days we use apps like Poll Everywhere to build word clouds to capture the main ideas of our discussion. Other days we have open debates that can get rather heated!

Alternatively, students write journal entries while I play instrumental tunes in the background. It’s a simple activity that takes as little as 10 minutes and can really get the ball rolling at the beginning of each lesson.

Have you ever tried to explain a concept to your students but you wanted to go beyond the picture in the textbook that you’re using?  How incredible would it be if you could show them Michaelangelo’s masterpieces up close?  Or take them on a hike in the Himalayas? Or see the inner workings of the brain right there on your own desk? Well look no further.  Google Expeditions offers the ability to do just this, through the use of augmented and virtual reality platforms. 

All students need is a cell phone, tablet or laptop for AR  (goggles are needed for VR).

By helping students to visualize information in this unique way you can positively impact their ability to retain course content.

Google partnered with National Geographic, The American Museum of Natural History and The Guggenheim to create hundreds of different learning experiences for enhanced student engagement.

Lessons have read aloud features for auditory learners and read along features for visual learners.  Also included, are “scene scripts” for teachers to orate while they lead the adventures.

Once students get comfortable with the tech, both Apple and Google have apps developed that are easy to use allowing students to make their own content! 

One other idea is to create a class youtube channel where students can upload and share their work with their friends and family.

During the pandemic, educators had to learn to use a multitude of new tools to effectively deliver curriculum to the classroom literally overnight.  When PD opportunities (along with the rest of life) shut down to prevent the spread of COVID-19, I plugged into the Apple Teacher Program

Apple designed a series of FREE online workshops that are easy to follow and will increase your knowledge base on how to use many of their platforms.

For example, learn how to video edit on iMovie. Manipulate audio and compose songs on GarageBand. Students can also run through the workshops and learn simple coding activities using Swift Code. You can also learn the basics of Keynote, Pages, and Numbers (Apple’s version of Powerpoint, Word, and Excel). 

These not only benefit student learning in the “regular classroom” but enhance our new virtual realities as well.  You can attempt each workshop at your own pace and comfort level, helping to put new teaching tools in your leadership tool belt, while testing your knowledge and earning yourself badges as you go!  Who doesn’t love getting a nice sticker!? For new teachers, it’s one more amazing skill set to add to the resume to help give you an edge over your competition. For veterans, it’s a new trick to add to your vast reservoir of teaching tools.

About the author:

Nicholas McCowan is a TCDSB high school teacher at St. Joan of Arc Academy and teaches Science, Leadership and Student Success
Instagram: @mccowanroad and @teach.me.tips

This edition of 3 Teacher Tips Thursday is brought to you by:
Teach Me Tips – Educators sharing best practices with fellow educators.

Follow @teach.me.tips on Instagram

I hope you enjoyed our third weekly edition of 3 Teacher Tips Thursday. Got a resource, idea, or PD opportunity you want to share? Email stefanie.lenzo@tcdsb.org.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: