The Cell Cycle Song: embarrassing for me & educational for you!

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So…I am by no means a singer – I will belt it out in the comfort of my home or in my car driving to work (yes – I’m one of those people).  Back in 2011, my school got a bunch of FlipCams and I wanted to put them to use!  I was teaching Gr. 10 Applied Science at the time and one activity gave them the option to record tutorial videos and then share with the class.  I wanted them to feel comfortable – so I figured that if I made an embarrassing video of me singing, they would feel comfortable sharing.

We were in the cells unit and learning about mitosis and there was this fun video on YouTube of a teacher and his students singing this song.  I listened to it multiple times, typed up the lyrics – changed some wording to make it fit to my liking….originally, I wanted to play guitar and have my husband sing but he refused…sad face.  It is sung to the tune of “When I Come Around” by Green Day.

We have a household of fur babies who follow us around everywhere so it took 21 takes to get the entire song!  Here are the lyrics in PDF format: The Cell Cycle Song Lyrics

PLEASE SING ALONG WITH ME TO DROWN OUT MY VOICE…lol…

Introducing 2011 me:

Bloopers are bound to happen in an animal house!

Second Video: guest starring – Pickles, Peanut & Scooter

My animals seem to crave the spotlight…

Third Video: guest starring – Scooter & Pickles

If you make a video of your own to this song – send me the link below!  That way I can show your video instead of mine…lol

Hands Down: my favourite tool for creating mind maps

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“P” stands for pretty and with a little bit of effort, this is what your mind maps will look like after using this tool.  It is very user friendly and within 5 minutes, your students will figure out how it works.  Even though it is great, there are some drawbacks which I will go into…

Screen Shot 2015-06-02 at 6.43.46 PMScreen Shot 2015-06-02 at 6.54.53 PMI have been using Popplet with my science classes for about 2 years and what I really like about digital mind maps is how easy they are to bring home & mark!  Long gone are the days of lugging around bristol board – fluorescent boards are the bane of my existence.  Mind you, I still accept tangible mind maps because I don’t want to limit student creativity.  Also – not all students have tech access at home to use this tool.

It all starts with a popplet (a box that allows you to insert, text or media) which can then be linked to other popplets.  Each box can be colour coded so that helps with grouping content.

Once you finish, you can share the link to your work or export as a pdf.  If you want a tutorial on how to use it, I found a good video on YouTube.

This tool has flaws – the biggest flaw IMO is the lack of spell check.  Granted, my students have found a way around this (typing into a word processor and then cutting & pasting into the popplets) – however, the majority do not take this extra step…nor do I feel like they should.  Isn’t spell check standard nowadays?

Another problem I’ve encountered is not all mind maps can be exported properly – each semester, I need to obtain the login/password of 10-20% of the class.  Maybe their maps are too large or some files become corrupt?  Also – there have been a few cases where their work completely disappears and they need to start over (I know they weren’t lying because I noted their progress during in-class work periods).  So in that sense, it becomes a major inconvenience.

The last issue I have is that this pdf is not readable by turnitin so its difficult to know if the text is “copied & pasted” or original.  So you will have to decide whether or not that is important to you – guess it depends on the assignment/activity.

Despite these issues I have encountered over the past couple of years, I continue to promote Popplet as a tool as it helps everyone create “clean” and organized work – regardless of artistic talent.

Here is an example of a Popplet I made as a model of how their assignment could be organized: Ms Sy’s Energy Mind Map Exemplar

Any questions?  Comment below 🙂

Helpful Periodic Table App: engaging & FREE!

The Elements Flashcard by Theodore Gray is a free app that can be used in the classroom to introduce the Periodic Table or for review.  The graphics are clean and it looks modern – surprising for a free app!  It is by Touchpress Limited.  There are two main modes – “QUIZ” or “DRAG & DROP”.

For “QUIZ”, you can choose to do 20, 40 or 118 elements.  It can test you on: element name, symbol, group or picture (what it looks like).  A feature that you may or may not like is that it is based on the honour system – after it gives you the answer…you choose whether you were correct or incorrect. (screen shown in the middle picture below).

For “DRAG & DROP”, you literally drag the element at the bottom into its place on the Periodic Table.  I’d say this would be good for introducing the table and how it is arranged.  This would be difficult without using a Periodic Table for reference but maybe your kids will be up for a challenge!!!  Know of any other cool apps?  Comment & share below!

Canva: OMG – you make me feel like a legit graphic designer!

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This website is AMAZING!  It transforms you into a graphic designer and makes you think that…maybe you could quit your job and make a living creating pretty digital art!  True story – Canva gives you special powers.

Note exhibits A & B below.  Best part – it is FREE! (yes – there are some layouts and images that have a fee…but that won’t limit  you in any way) – be prepared to unleash your creativity!

Canva Peanut Dangerous Phrase

Piktochart: thanks for making me look talented!

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So, I joined Twitter this month & have been slowly integrating myself into various PLN (professional learning networks – yep, I had to Google what that stood for when someone put that in a comment to me…side note: feeling like a noob so far – but that is ok because learning is a journey and I’m just starting off).

OK – what a fun site!  So many templates, images & fonts – in LOVE!  I discovered Canva yesterday and today have stumbled upon this…look what I made today!  Currently an acting Spec.Ed. head – I imagine It should come in handy if I’m ever in that role again 🙂

I will definitely be using this site regularly from this point on.  Debating on if I should invest in the paid version…I have a feeling the low res docs will begin to bother me but I really don’t like how its a pay monthly subscription as opposed to a one time price.  Have you made anything cool that you want to share?  Comment below – I would love to see what you have made for inspiration 🙂

Supporting Spec Ed Students

Best Bio App for the Classroom: IMO it will rock your world


Plague Inc. – is a paid app but there are free versions and similar dupes (Ex. Infection).  It is a simulation game where you try different strategies to wipe out the entire world!  Yes – the ultimate goal is to be a plague that infects and then kills the human race.  Even if there is one human left and a cure is found by scientists – GAME OVER.

I use it in my Bio class as it fits nicely with the Microbiology unit.  There are different types of pathogens to choose from: virus, bacteria, fungus, etc…

While playing the game, you will learn how a pathogen spreads (air, water) and how various symptoms affect the rate of the infection.  As a pathogen you gain DNA points which will allow you to level up your powers and your ability to infect the world.

Trust me – your students will be playing this game beyond your lesson and it will be difficult to top this one!  You yourself will love this game – it is crazy addictive!  There is sweet satisfaction in being a smart pathogen that successfully wipes out the human race.  Enjoy!

Comment below on your experiences or to share any apps that you’ve used in the classroom that you think are worth a try!

Procrastinate With Me: awesome cat videos

IMG_3608Who doesn’t love cat videos? I have yet to capture my fur babies doing anything diabolically hilarious…but these people sure have!  You may or may not have seen any of these classics…but here are links to my favourite cat videos on YouTube…they will surely bring a smile to your face!

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This cat is the definition of naughty – moral of the story: never trust a cat with a sick moustache.  All this cat needs is a monocle…


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This kitty is silent but deadly!  Not sure if you will find this funny, cute or creepy…I find that its all of the above!

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These two felines are ADORABLE – they are straight up talking to each other!!! Someone translated this video and IMO it’s better than the original (Cat Talking Translation)

Screen Shot 2015-05-16 at 5.23.10 PMSurprised Kitty

The cutest kitten ever!  It’s so tiny…but really gives an excellent performance!  I wonder if it still does this as an adult kitty?

Screen Shot 2015-05-16 at 5.37.22 PMTurn Down For What Kittens

I have watched this video multiple times and can never listen to the song without envisioning two kittens with super focus!  I imagine the agency didn’t need this video to go viral before the kittens were chosen for adoption!

Screen Shot 2015-05-16 at 5.31.33 PM“I Love You” Husky

Ok – so this isn’t a cat but it’s sooooo cute!  It will make you melt…

Effortless Mani: Galaxy Nails Shortcut

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I love the look of galaxy nails but the steps involved intimidate me!  Here is an easy way to get the galaxy nails look if you don’t have the artistic talent to pull it off…

FullSizeRender-4IMG_09271.  Start with your favourite base coat – I used Nail Foundation by butter London.

2.  Follow it up with a dark polish (black if you want a greater contrast – I chose navy blue)…I used Char by Julep.  What I like about this formula is that I achieved the dark opaque look in one coat – polish has a thick consistency & smooth application.

3.  Use any confetti top coat (preferably one with different sizes & a colour that stands out from the base colour)…I used Crash by Sephora Formula X – it is a “transformer” top coat with turquoise confetti.

4.  End with your favourite clear top coat – I used Hardware P.D. Top Coat by butter London.  This is an optional step but I find that the confetti alone has a bumpy finish and the extra coat gives it a smooth finish!  I find that I need to reapply top coat every couple of days because the toner I use on my face contains alcohol & it slowly removes the top layers of the mani.  As the top layers get worn off, the abrasive confetti can cause snags/pulls in delicate fabrics – watch out!

Here are product links to what I used:

Base Coat: http://www.butterlondon.ca/lacquers/base-top-coat/nail-foundation-flawless-basecoat

Navy Blue Polish: http://www.julep.com/char-it-girl.html

Turquoise Confetti Top Coat: http://www.sephora.com/transformers-top-coats-P382101?skuId=1546621

Clear Top Coat: http://www.butterlondon.com/Hardwear-P-D-Quick-Top-Coat.html?search=Nail+treatments

I’d love to see your take on this – comment & share images below!  I’d love to see other colour combinations!

Stoney’s Bread Company: a little pricey – but tasty choice!

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We arrived at the Queensway Cineplex Theatres early, so we decided to eat at a local restaurant that received really good reviews online – insert Stoney’s Bread Company (http://www.stoneysbreadcompany.com)

Upon entering, we were a little confused as to where to go – there were tables on the right and what appeared to be an ordering counter with boards to the left (there were some pretentious hipsters blocking the left side and the only path to the ordering area so that added to the confusion).  Fortunately, there was a cheery worker who greeted us from the counter and motioned us to head in her direction.

FullSizeRenderAfter spending some time reviewing the menu (http://www.stoneysbreadcompany.com/etobicoke-menu/) – I decided on the $16 Blackened Atlantic Salmon Sandwich (avocado, mango salsa, citrus aioli served open face on focaccia with mixed field greens).  Nigel chose the $12 Southern Style Pulled Pork Sandwich (bourbon BBQ sauce & garlic aioli on a ciabatta).  We paid at the counter and the machine gave a tip option – we opted for 15%.  The total came to about $38.  The cashier then gave us a number and our receipt.  There was no one in the restaurant at the time so we had our pick of indoor tables, high tops or the patio.

Considering there were only two of us in the whole restaurant and about 3 line cooks, the food took a while IMO?  But maybe that is normal and I’m being nit picky?  Oh well, it gave me a chance to appreciate the modern decor.  Anyways – the food was good.  Pulled pork sandwich tasted pretty standard – hard to mess that one up.  Even the pulled pork served at my school’s cafeteria tastes good.

FullSizeRenderMy blackened salmon was yummy – it wasn’t as tender I’d like on the inside but the edges were nice and crispy (guess that is the trade-off).  The mango salsa was delicious but the avocado didn’t taste fresh – the avocado tasted like the pre-made stuff you can buy at the grocery store.  Not fresh like Chipotle – Chipotle knows how to do guacamole.  Salad was nicely coated in dressing.  No complaints – I would order it again!

In terms of the 15% tip – in retrospect, we would have done 5% as they didn’t do anything besides bring us the food.  They didn’t even give us the water we requested at the time of order.  Based on the experience we had, even though the food was good – the value was not there.  It’s like…they charge you for dine in and it is dine in…but not really because the service portion is absent.  Would we go back – no.  Would I recommend it to try at least once – yes.

If you’ve tried Stoney’s – pls. comment below…maybe I will be enticed to go back!

Cineplex VIP Cinemas: is it worth it?

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Last weekend, we got a chance to try out the VIP Cinemas (19+) at Queensway location.  I have always been intrigued by the VIP experience but too cheap to take the plunge.  The ticket prices vary on the day and the cinema location.  At the Queensway VIP: Monday to Thursday it’s $19.99 and Friday to Sunday it’s $25.99.  Whereas at SilverCity Oakville VIP: Monday to Thursday it’s $18.99 and Friday to Sunday it’s $21.99.  I haven’t tried the Oakville location so when I do, I will add my notes to this post.  I imagine there is a difference in price based on the size of the theatre?  The reviews I read online consistently stated that the Queensway location is the best – so I decided to get our tickets using 2000 scene points.

There is ample parking at the Queensway location (http://www.cineplex.com/Theatre/cineplex-cinemas-queensway-vip).  If you really want to feel like VIP – you can do the valet parking for $4.  When you enter through the VIP entrance (yes – it’s separate from the regular entrance…), you’ll notice a bar lounge to your right where you can get your drink on.  It was a little weird getting in line for the washrooms because there was a unisex sign and I didn’t know what to expect because the line wrapped out of the bathroom area.  I was in a line with males so I didn’t know if it was going to be a typical bathroom with stalls and communal sinks.  Fortunately, the unisex bathroom was made up of individual rooms.  Each room had fancy lighting, a big mirror, your standard toilet, sink, paper towels & nice smelling soap.  It felt pretty VIP.

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The theatre we were in looked exactly like this screenshot taken from the website.  Yep – those are leather reclining seats in pairs (the middle arm rest can be lifted) with mini sliding tables.  I wish the feet part reclined but only the back did.

When you sit down, you’ll notice a pair of 3D glasses (if applicable) and food/drink menus on the side.  You can find the menu online (http://www.cineplex.com/Theatres/vip).  The selection varies on the location.  The prices were pretty decent – they didn’t seem as overpriced as popcorn.  We had supper prior to going so we didn’t order any entrees.  About 5 minutes after I had a look at the menu, a server came up to me with an iPad and took our order.  We paid on the spot as their iPad served as a POS system.  We ordered a rootbeer float, a creamsicle float (orange soda & vanilla ice-cream) and sweet potato fries (it came up to about $15 minus tip).  We received our order within 10 minutes.  I suggest that you go to the theatre at least 30 minutes before showtime to truly enjoy the VIP experience.  They stop the ordering service once the previews begin.

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Cineplex currently has a promo on Wednesdays where you get dinner and a movie for two for $50.  The dinner is a voucher for entrees from their theatre menu.  The value is there as each entree was about $10 each, so taking advantage of this promo would be like getting an entree for free.

The movie we watched was The Avengers: Age of Ultron – a two hour & 21 minute run time so I felt like it was a really good choice to experience in super comfy seats!  I LOVED the leather seats, when you lean back on the seat, it keeps its position.  Compared to when I try to recline in AVX theatre seats, I have to have my feet up on the seat in front of me to keep the seat reclined.

Bottom line: I would definitely splurge on the VIP experience again if it’s a quality movie with a decent run time.  I imagine that if the movie was bad, this experience would feel like a rip-off.  So if you are going to spend a lot of money on the VIP cinemas…make sure you do research on your movie choice.  I’m thinking Jurassic World, Ant-Man & Fantastic Four will be my VIP splurges this year – how about you?