The Power of Puzzles

What is the educational value for completing word puzzles?

This is a great question, that has been debated by many educators.

Working with spelling words and new vocabulary, seems like a justifiable use for using word puzzles.  However; when created by the teacher, the students require no creative thinking and often lack the comprehension and connection to the new vocabulary.   Sort of a worksheet in a different form.  So how do we “up” the value?  This value increases when you have them create their own word puzzles.

On the Discovery Education Site students can create

  • Crosswords

    Fallen Phrase
    Fallen Phrase
  • Word Search with Hidden Message
  • Criss-Cross Puzzle
  • Cryptograms
  • Letter Tiles
  • Fallen Phrase
  • Double Puzzles

All which link vocabulary to meaning.

After students have created their word puzzle, on the iPad hold finger on the image and download into photos.  In Photos share or upload the image into Notability and have students compete.

On macbook, right click on image and save.  Share via email or google drive then download image and add image to a notebook file and use pens to complete.





Using Book Creator to Explore Non-Fiction Text Features

Before you have students create a non-fiction book in Book Creator, you must explore the features in a non-fiction piece.

Text features in a non-fiction piece of writing, is like story elements in a fiction piece of writing.  Just like you need to teach students about characters, setting, problem, plot and resolution before writing stories, you must also teach students about specific features of non-fiction writing.

These feature are there to help the reader make sense of what is written.

Features include and are not limited to:

  1. HeadingsText Features 1
    • Helps to know what the text topic is about and help make predictions.

  2. Timeline
    • Helps determine the time an event happens.

  3. Labels
    • Helps identify a picture or photograph, and/or its parts.

  4. Photographs
    • Helps understand exactly what something looks like.

  5. Captions
    • Helps better understand a picture or photograph.

  6. Comparisons
    • Helps understand the size of something by comparing it to the size of something familiar.

  7. Cut Aways/Cross Sections
    • Helps understand something by looking at it from the inside.

  8. MapsText Features 2
    • Helps understand where things are in the world.

  9. Types of Print
    • Helps by signalling, “Look at me! I’m important!”

  10. Close-ups
    • Helps seeing details in something small.

  11. Graphs
    • Helps in a visual way so that it is more easily understood by readers.

  12. Charts or Tables
    • Helps by giving information in a visual way so that it is quicker and easier to read.

  13. Diagrams
    • Helps with a drawing  of the parts of something.

  14. Indexes
    • Helps with an alphabetical list of most everything covered in the text, with page numbers.

  15. Table of Contents
    • Helps identify key topics in the order they are presented.

  16. Glossaries
    • Helps define words found in the text.

Collaborative Writes Benefit all Students

Collaborative Writes Benefit all Studentsstudents-148163_640

  1. Collaboration strengthens writing skills and improves Communication 
  2. Sense of Responsibility to complete a task improves growth in Personal Awareness
  3. Sharing of Ideas with a diversity of opinions and styles promotes Positive Personal and Cultural Identity
  4. Sharing of Expertise with Peer Editing develops Critical Thinking Skills

*Bolded Core Competencies 

Using the iPads, collaborative writing can happen easily in the Google Environment.

Students can use either Google Slide or Google Docs to create and share the writing assignment.

Forms of Writing

Persuasive Writing (debate) using Google Slides or Docs

  • A pair of students choose to debate a topic on the same document.
  • Give Topics such as “Every child should or should not have a tracking device placed on them” or “Curfews”, “Uniforms” etc.
  • One student creates the doc/slide and shares to partner
  • When completed the writing, the students would edit, giving a strong argument for one, or decide to let the reader choose (more of a editorial write)

Research Writing Using Google Slides

  • Students in pairs or triads, research a topic together dividing the topic  into subtopics
  • One Student creates a Google Slide and shares with group
  • Students are each responsible to present the information on their own Google Slide pages, within the original document
  • Remind students that this is an oral presentation, with visual cues
  • Show students how to turn on the speaker’s notes, where they can add script to refer to in presentation

Narrative Writing Using Google Document

  • Give students a genre of a traditional/parody story to rewrite (Fractured Fairy Tale,  Animal  Story, Fable)
  • Divide students into pairs or triads
  • One student creates the doc and shares with the group
  • Put a table on the document, so that each student has a place to write
  • The (2×6) table could include: Introduction, Setting, Protagonist, Antagonist,  Problem, Attempt to Solve 1, Attempt to Solve 2, Attempt to Solve, Solution, Conclusion
  • Students divide the task and write in their chosen cell
  • Completed text can be copied and pasted into another application


  • Choose a poetry form with a distinctive form  such as sonnet
  • Discuss the characteristics of the poetry form
  • Sonnet 14 lines, 3 quatrains, 1 couplet,  each line 10 syllables, rhyming scheme of abab, cdcd, efef, gg
  • Divide students into groups
  • One student creates the document and shares
  • Create a table 2×14
  • Label  Column with rhyming scheme
  • Each Student completes their assigned line


Using “Book Creator” or “Explain Everything” to create a How To Book

“How to Videos” are a craze on YouTube.  To bump up the “How to”  use Book Creator or Explain Everything.  Both of these apps give a variety of extra tools to create a better procedural writing.

Bring in artifacts, such as skipping rope, card game, etc


  • at least one video

  • a picture

  • a soundbite

  • a drawing

  • text,  explaining  sequence

  • Uses transitional words to show sequence:

  • A, B, C, and so forth.
  • first, second, third, and so forth.
  • after, afterward, and then,
  • at this point, at this time, before this,
  • concurrently, consequently,
  • finally, following this,
  • hence, next, now,
  • previously, simultaneously,
  • soon, subsequently,
  • then, therefore, thus

*Students can also use iMovie

Using iMovie to “Produce” a Poem

Use this poem to create an iMovie.

The Bluebird Poem 1

or on Canada and government

I am Canadian Poem

imovieipad2 for iPads

imovie8greenscreen for Macbooks

  1.  Read the poem
  2. Chunk the poem into parts (stanzas, couplets, etc)
  3. Find images for each of the parts (google image search, search tools, usage rights) and save to device
  4. Create a new iMovie
  5. IMovie must include:
  • Titles
  • Digital stills
  • Theme music, which fits the poem
  • Sound effects
  • Audio of reading of poem, making sure to capture the mood


Using iMovie Trailers to Compare and Contrast

orangebanana2Using iMovie is a creative way for students to practice the language of Compare and Contrast.

Here is a document  with key words used in both compare and contrast.

Compare and Contrast

Use one of the Storyboards to have students compare and contrast two things.  Each text line needs to be a sentence comparing or contrasting.  The images in the storyboard will link to the text.


  • their self with a peer
  • their self with a character from a book
  • two animals
  • two countries


Wanted Poster

If your students are doing a character profile, for Reading or for development of character for writing, creating a Wanted Poster is a great way to explore character traits.

Create your poster as a Wanted Poster for a character (an antagonist/protagonist in your novel or story (or some other character you find interesting) Include in the information Name, last seen, physical description, special features and known associates.

Two iPad Apps will be used

Create an avatar using Avatar Creator

Create Poster using Pic Collagewantedimage

  • get a background image of a scroll  or old paper (portrait view)
  • open Pic Collage and create a new Collage
  • Make your background a scroll/old paper
  • Add pictures, text drawings etc, following the criteria below

Poster must include:

  1. The word Wanted in large black type at the top of the poster
  2. The Reason(s) Your Character is wanted for directly below the word Wanted
  3. Your Character’s Name
  4. A Detailed Image of Your Character (Avatar)
  5. A Detailed Physical Description of your character
  • description of face and body features
  • description of clothes
  • description of  accessories
  1. A Detailed Personality Description of your character
  • Personality traits such as mean, shy, happy
  1. A reasonable reward
  2. A last seen statement : Last seen headed for Charlie Lake
  3. Who to contact if seen
  4. An alias
  5. Known Associates


Use Pic Collage to Make New Year’s Resolution

NewYearsResolution2Did you know that New Year’s Resolutions were started by the Babylonians about 4000 years ago.

  1. Think about personal and school related goals or resolutions.
  2. Find a blank scroll picture on internet and save to photos
  3. Open Pic Collage and + add a new collage
  4. Press the + and Add Photos, choose Camera Roll and scroll
  5. Double tap and Set as background. Trash smaller image by dragging to trash
  6. Press the + and Add text, stickers etc.
  7. Save to Library (now in your photos)
  8. Make your wallpaper