eLearning Life, Food, and Travel

Taormina – My Favourite – by Alison McAllion

    One of the cities that I enjoyed most during my visit in Italy was Taormina. Though it is nearly impossible to choose a favourite, I remember loving a few specific things about Taormina that I did not experience anywhere else. Firstly, I really liked that we went to Taormina because it was a surprise; the itinerary never originally included visiting Sicily but in a change of schedule, I was delighted to find that I would get to see the beautiful island. One of the first things I noticed in Taormina was the cactuses. I never knew that cactuses grew in Italy, even though given the climate it isn’t surprising, and I never knew that so many could grow in one place or at such an angle as off the side of a mountain. I had a very memorable moment involving a cactus, when I noticed that people inscribed their names or initials into cactuses in the garden behind the amphitheatre in Taormina. I used a sharp rock to write M.A.M.A., the initials of my friends and I (Manny, Adriana, Maggie, and Alison). Speaking of gardens, another one of my favourite things about Taormina that I have never encountered anywhere else was breathing beautifully fresh air in a garden near a hidden pizzeria. My friends and I had lunch at a pizzeria that took a couple hundred stairs to get up to, but it was so pleasant it was worth it. While we were leaving, we knew we were late but I couldn’t help but stop to enjoy the wonderful fresh air in the garden. That experience convinced me I would have to go back. The other experiences that made Taormina so enjoyable for me were the way the people were so friendly and helpful when I didn’t know where to go and that Taormina was the place where I bought souvenirs for my friends and family so they could share in my memories. Overall, I could not decide on one favourite place we visited, but Taormina is definitely tied with other cities for my most enjoyed experience.

My expectations of this course and the trip were met and exceeded. I didn’t know I would be learning ancient history and mythology when I signed up and I really liked learning those units. If I were to do it again I would probably like to spend more time speaking Italian with classmates so I could be confident to use my language skills in Italy. I would also like to visit Venice, and perhaps not change hotels every night but use one or two hotels as bases and go on day trips to other cities instead. I would definitely want to keep the visits to Rome, Florence, Certosa, Taormina and especially the church of San Francesco di Paola.


Thank you for this amazing learning experience!

eLearning Life, Food, and Travel

Our Italy Trip – A Journal by Joseph Visconti


Although we didn’t spend much time in Bettolle I went into a small butcher’s shop with Sabrina, Adriano and Alex. While we were there we sampled different cured meats and sausages. It was all very good meat but my favorite part was experiencing the Italian culture. It was the first day we were in Italy and the owners were so friendly and proud of what they do. They were showing us pictures of the animals we were eating and I thought that was also a very interesting difference in culture. We (in Canada) prefer to separate ourselves from the meat preparing process but in Italy they are more in touch with where their food comes from.


My favourite part of Siena was when we got to the top of the bell tower. In Sienna I climbed the bell tower with Sabrina, Adriano and Alex. When we were at the top the view was amazing. It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. Just looking out over the Italian countryside with all the little villages sporadically nestled in the mountains was so picturesque. In my opinion, nothing is more beautiful than the Italian countryside and the bell tower in sienna was a great place to see it.


Florence is a beautiful city. There is so much history and so many priceless pieces of art but my favorite place in Florence is the Ponte Vecchio. Something about the feeling of being there, seeing all the shops on the sides and the beautiful scenery is truly a spectacular sight. I also really liked the part of the bridge where couples locked a padlock on the bridge so that they will be locked in love forever. While I was there I saw a couple lock a padlock together and I thought it was a very nice tradition. In Florence I also bought a purse from one of the street vendors. I actually really like buying things from street vendors because it really shows the Italian culture. Here we never haggle so I thought it was nice that we were able to experience that part of Italian culture


In Rome we saw so many nice things but my favorite part was when I bought gelato with Sabrina and Adriano. We had stopped for lunch in front of the Fontana di Trevi and I got “un gelato alla nocciola” gelato. It was such beautiful day outside and it was very enjoyable to just site on the side of the fountain and enjoy our gelato. There were many other very nice things in Rome as well. I really liked the seeing the Colloseo. I had been outside the Colloseo before but I had never been inside. I really liked being able to go inside and see where all the gladiators and animals fought. I also found it really interesting to be able to stand in the same place where so many people had stood before me. Emperors, peasants and so many other people had been where I was and I found that really interesting.


Although we didn’t stay in Paestum we saw Greek ruins. The Greek buildings were very well preserved. I found this really interesting because I didn’t know that there were those kinds of Greek ruins in Italy. I knew that there were some ruins from when the Greeks were in southern Italy however I never expected huge buildings that were very well preserved. I had never seen Greek ruins before so that really interested me.


Salerno is a really nice place and we went shopping and saw the beautiful Mediterranean Sea however my favorite part was goings swimming. Sabrina, Adriano, and I went swimming when we first arrived in Salerno. We had just spent the day driving and it felt really good to be able to just relax and go swimming. I also got a really nice shirt in Salerno and had a nice café at a little bar. At dinner I had the best tasting potatoes I’ve ever had. They were excellent.


I had never been to Pompeii before so being able to go there was a really nice experience. Seeing how well the whole city was preserved was amazing. Being able to see the expressions on the faces of the citizens was really amazing. Also, the fact that all the buildings were so were preserved was also amazing. Being able to look at a 1000 year old shop and tell what it sold is really cool so I really enjoyed that.


In Matera my favorite thing was the dance party we had with the American school after dinner. Mr. Femia got out Rosa (his original Calbarese “organetto”) and was playing the tarantella and other Italian songs and everyone was dancing and laughing and having a really good time. In Matera I also really liked going for the walk at night with the whole group and the Sassi were amazing. It was really interesting to see how the people lived so long ago and how they were able to carve their houses out of the rock.


Even though we didn’t stay in Paola and we just passed though it was my favorite part of the whole trip. The stories that Mr. Femia was telling us about his experiences there were really inspiring. Being able to drink that water and see the bomb that didn’t explode and pray in the church were all some of my favorite parts of the trip. The whole time I was there I felt like it was a really holy and sacred place. It was definitely my favorite part of the trip.


We didn’t spend much time in Amantea but I really liked going into the supermarket. I hadn’t been into an Italian supermarket yet in the trip and being in there and seeing the different foods that they were selling and the difference in prices was really interesting. I saw a five gallon bottle of wine for only five Euros. I really liked the supermarket.


Tropea was really cold and windy but it was still a beautiful town. I wasn’t feeling well in Tropea because the Calabrese roads had gotten the better of me however I was still able to really enjoy a piece of pizza from a little pizzeria. I also really liked the beautiful cliffs going down to the beach and I thought it was really funny when Alex picked a giant lemon off a tree.


Taormina was a beautiful city in Sicily. I really loved the amphitheatre. The sun was shining and thinking about all the people that had sat in that amphitheatre before me was really nice. On my way to Taormina I had a really good rice ball on the ferry. In Taormina we also bought some really good oranges that were really fresh and juicy.


My favorite part of Reggio was the gelato. I had the best gelato of the whole trip in Reggio. It was just a small gelato shop and it was really cold but I got a gelato and It was the best of the whole trip. The nocciola was so creamy and delicious. I also took a really nice walk along the promenade and saw the statue of Vittorio Emanuele. The Sea was also very beautiful there.

Serra San Bruno

We spent several days in Serra. Although when I first got there I was a little skeptical I ended up really liking it. My favorite thing that happened in Sera was being able to see my Zio Pasquale. I don’t get so see him much so I was so happy to be able to see him. I also really liked it when we went to the monastery and were able to say the rosary all together. Another thing I liked was the café. There were the most delicious cannoli and excellent espressos. The thing I liked most about Sera was the time that we had to spend with all the new friends that we had made. I know I made lots of new friendships that I have continued to keep up and will continue as well.

Italy was truly an unforgettable experience.

Education Trends eLearning Web2.0 World Workshops and Presentations

Eureka 2013 Conference – 21ST. Century Learning – Presentation Notes

Opening thought — Our  first  21st. Century  generation  of  students  will  graduate  in  a  year  or  so.

Today`s students love to learn, play, create, and socialize at a rapid and ever evolving pace because they have at their disposals technological tools:

  • Laptops
  • Clickers
  • Cell  Phones
  • Tablets
  • Portable  Gaming  Devices
  • Social  Media
  • and  all  other  forms  of  digitally  enhanced  interactivity
    • Image:
      Ed Tech Rising » The Incomplete Story of Student Clicker Technology

Our students are called Digital Native, Digital Citizen or 21st. Century Learner. The important realization is that today’s student learns, interacts, socializes and mobilizes in ways that are truly transformational and differ greatly from the pre Web 2.0 generation.

Growth of social media usage has been exponential

Before the appearance of Facebook (20013) the role of the Internet then was that of information gathering and the user main function was that of searching for information. This was called Web 1.0.

After the advent of Facebook and other social media applications revolutionized the way in which users interacted with the Internet. The user moved from a passive role to an active role of creator, remixer, and collaborator.

  • Video – Social Media in the 21st Century – (see credits below)

Today we no longer refer to the Internet as the “Information Superhighway“. We could, more appropriately, define it as an international, multicultural, multilingual sharing forum where information and ideas are shared and remixed.

This has brought a new dimension not only in society in general but in education as a whole.

Today’s students experience learning outside of traditional written, oral, and teacher centric methodologies.

There are many strategies in which to bring the experience of students in the classroom at par with what they experience in the world outside. One strategy is “Guided Participation`

  • Reference – 2009 – Pedagogy and the Human Sciences – Michael F. Mascolo
  • Beyond student-centered and teacher-centered pedagogy: Teaching and learning as guided participation.
  • Video:

The 20th Century model of the classroom is no longer effective. As new technologies are developed at an increasingly fast pace, the roll out of hardware and software as it happened in the 20th Century can no longer be sustained due to high costs, rapid obsolescence of technology, and other factors.

Possible solutions include: Bring your own device, the connected classroom, portable net book carts (labs).

  • Images 20th vs. 21st Century classrooms – see credits below
  • Video – The connected Classroom – see credits below

Did most of our first generation of 21st Century students attend 21st. Century classes…..??

Teaching/learning strategies need to evolve. We are in the 21st Century but many of our classrooms are still not relevant within this context!

  • Video – Vision of K-12 Students Today – see credits below

The promotion of 21st Century learning is not based on using technology as a teaching tool but adapting the classroom experience to be a student centric space. We (educators and learners) need to embrace the students’ ability to use technology to enhance their learning experience.

The classroom teacher must provide authentic opportunities for students to be active participants in their learning experience

The teacher, while meeting curriculum expectations and guidelines, must engage students to share their voice and grow in their learning through active, meaningful and personalized participation.

  • Image Allison Domicone, November 29th, 2010 – Ref: Science@creativecommons by Creative Commons / CC BY

Our students today are to mobile learners who use their technological tools to learn and apply their knowledge. Kids want to be: Producers, Creators, Teachers, Show-people and Re-mixers

  • Image – Rachel teaches at iPad Media Camp – Rachel was demonstrating the iPad app “Puppet Pals HD Directors Pass” in this photo:…
  • Rachel is using an interactive white board and a document camera – technology tools of the 21st. Century

21st Century learning is not married to technology but rather the principle of engaging students within the 4Cs: Collaboration, Critical Thinking, Creativity and Communication.

Student Centric, Technologically enabled s ample activity: Use a cell phone in a science lab to capture images, videos, and text during the observations phases of an experiment. Report the findings using a digital presentation (maybe post a video on YouTube) and allow others to collaborate and comment afterwards.

Exploring briefly the Flipped Classroom idea



Warm-up activity 5 min
Take up homework 10-20 min
Lesson on new content 20-35 min
*Guided and independent practice and/or lab activity* 10-25 min
Closing & Wrap Up 10-20 min

Traditional model of teaching



Warm-up activity 5 min
Podcast or video (pre-recorded by teacher and posted on blog or classroom website) with “how to” strategies and step-by-step solutions to problems– students can revisit this video or podcast anytime 10 min
*Guided and Independent practice and/or lab activity* 25-45 min
Closing & Wrap Up 10-20 min

Flipped Model of Teaching

Project based learning moves away from the teacher and lives within the experience of students “doing.” The teacher’s role shifts from a lecturer to that of facilitator of learning and co-learner.

This sustains and promotes a learning environment that is interactive, enthusiastic, and authentic.

The teacher is able to set up meaningful learning experiences which extend outside off the traditional classroom milieu.

  • Image source: The teacher as facilitator –

Traditional methods and pedagogies need not to be abandoned. 21st. promotes a balanced approach between teacher intervention and student response and experiences.

The goal then becomes o engage students in ways that provide and nurture meaningful activity. The students live in a 21st Century world and it is time for the classroom to be living in current time as well.

  • Video: The Arcade Experience – see credits below

References and Credits

A Vision of 21st Century Teachers –

Flash Video – 4:34

A Few Ideas (Visions of Students Today)

Flash Video – 5:44

A Vision of K-12 Students Today

Flash Video – 4:44

Social Media and the Creation of Self: Identity Development in Youth

Flash Video – 2:19

Arab Spring – Egypt and Social Media

Flash Video – 4:59

Top 10 Reasons to Use Technology in Education: iPad, Tablet, Computer, L

Flash Video – 5:30

»There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.«

Ken Olson,

President/founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977.

Students in The Classroom Image

Ed Tech Rising » The Incomplete Story of Student Clicker Technology –

Social Media (Facebook) Growth is exponential

Guided Participation–FU2JEOc

Active, meaningful and personalized participation.
Image –
Allison Domicone, November 29th, 2010


eLearning , Math Homework Help, Digital Resources – Links

Lately I have been doing a lot of presentations to elementary schools, secondary schools, principals and administrators on eLearning and digital resources.

First of all I would like to thank everyone for the great hospitality and welcoming atmosphere I encounter during my visits to the schools.

Second, I am always grateful for the great participation on the part of the audience. 

Because of the amount of information presented I have decided to post in this blog the links to some of the sites that were mentioned during the presentations.

These links are mostly for TCDSB staff use only and are accessible through the password protected Intranet site.

  1. If you attended a training session or have already taught an online course using D2L and would like to request your own course for Blended Learning use with your classes ….
  2. http://intranet/icontinuinged/dayelearning/blended/app.htm  (access from within the school or TCDSB Network only)
  3. If you would like to place your name on a waiting list to be trained by eLearning Ontario staff for D2L
  4. http://intranet/icontinuinged/dayelearning/D2L_Training/app.htm (access from within the school or TCDSB Network only). 
  5. Accessing the OERB (Ontario Educational Resource Bank)   – username and password are found under PASSWORDS on our AICT Website (accessible from the INTRANET) :  http://intranet/academic_it/passwords.html
  6. Link to the online Math Homework Help site:  (When creating student accounts, please remember to provide them with their Ontario Education Number OEN).
  7. My Blog – a humble source of resources, inspiration, trivia and mostly eMemorabilia (I may have coined a new word)
  8. Follow me on Twitter for more of #5 …
  9.  If you want to become an online tutor with the ILC.
Education Trends eLearning Resources

Screen Chomp for iPAD

Just downloaded and installed Screen Chomp on my iPad.

This is an excellent little app and it’s free.

It turns your iPad into an instant whiteboard and can interact with Facebook so that it will automatically send your screen captures to your Facebook page.

What I like the most is the “RECORD” feature that allows you to capture your voice/audio and thus create instant and easy podcasts of your screen diagrams, doodles, etc. … cool!