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BYOD App Library!

UPDATE! Here are the results!!!! Please feel free to submit others as the list will grow!


Hello Friends!

I want to compile a resource of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) apps that teachers are actually using!  There are a lot of great lists out there of apps but this list will be based on teachers top recommendations based on what they are actually using! They can be web based or OS specific apps for any grade or subject.  Pass on the link to the survey to friends

Please complete the following survey or use the embedded form below:   CLICK HERE FOR SURVEY 

Once the enough results are posted I will place the resource back here in this post!  Please share the survey amongst your teacher friends as well!



Banning Cell Phones at School?

I really can’t see the merit in that…unless the school is giving each student a laptop or tablet to replace it in their school day to learn with. Having the world at their fingertips is clearly something that can pedagogically benefit students when incorporated into a lesson. As teachers, we would love to say we know every fact but we really don’t. Textbooks go outdated the minute they are printed and subjects like science, that is rapidly changing, I want my students to access what is new and cool going on in the world. I want my students to shift from content consumers and stop just taking in information but to leverage their own learning and knowledge to create content. Being a content creator is very simple with a smart phone and it empowers students. During today’s lesson 95% of the students had a smartphone or tablet with them without even knowing we were using them today. The other 5% are able to use two of my class iPads to research, message, tweet, vine, skype, post…etc..

I know what some of you are thinking, they are going to be “on the Facebook” instead of learning. Yes, students may send a text to their friend or fire off a Snapchap message during class time but…have students ever whispered to one another when a teacher was talking or passed a note down a line of students?  As educators we need to create a culture in the classroom. The benefits outweigh all consequences I can think of. If we don’t allow phones into the class, who will teach them how to use them respectfully? for professional purposes? I know cyber bullying happens through phones but bullying happens in person too, so we can’t take away personal interactions due to a those incidents. We can’t take away phones for that same reason. There is no course on how to use cell phones, etiquette and manners online. It is through meaningful in-class relationships that we build those relationships and teach life skills along with our course content.

I use my phone all the time for personal and professional uses. I update the students class calendar on my class website right from my phone. Parents and students can log in instantly to see what’s due from a computer or their own phones. I tweet (@mrzorasstudent) out solutions from class, cool facts and things to benefit my students. More importantly I let the students curate the content as well and produce amazing ideas that are shared with the world. Learning chemical bonding can sometimes be boring, I admit it, but by having students produce a video from their cell phone explaining bonding and publishing it, they are having fun and learning the content as well. We use programs like Nearpod, which allows students to follow along and do quizzes from their phone so I can assess their learning. We grew space tomatoes as part of the Canadian Space Agency Tomato Sphere Project and heard back from them through Twitter. We make QR codes with information about science and place them around the school and have others do a scavenger hunt scanning them to learn. How about learning about electroplating and FaceTiming my Dad from my phone to give us a virtual tour. That is the tip of the iceberg as there are so many educational apps I encourage my students to use. and things we do in class.

I feel that students need to learn how to use their cell phones appropriately and I need to prepare them for the future. Using cellphones as an educational tool and in my class is important. I feel good that they are interacting safer in online spaces and are ready for the many jobs that will require them to work with cell phones as well.

Thanks for reading this blog post that was published entirely from my cell phone! 🙂


Video with my Dad on electroplating



Tweeting to the Canadian Space Agency about our tomato growth

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The class Twitter account: @mrzorasstudent

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Making videos on bonding

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The class calendar

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Updating the calendar from my own phone

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My reflection of my first 5 years of teaching!

With many years out of teachers college I thought it was time to administer a reflection task (if I didn’t get enough of those in teachers college) 🙂 5 years flew by and on the plane ride over to China to teach I had 14 hours to think and here it is: 

This school year ended like a whirlwind. It was also a significant milestone in my teaching career. This June marked my 5 year milestone in teaching. I have always known I love science but teaching is my true passion. My mom is also a teacher and is someone I look up to in my career. All the students at her school would look up to her and when we were in the neighbourhood many kids and then adults came to say hello to her.  From working parks and rec since I was 16, teaching art classes and summer camp, it was teaching and working with youth that made my day. After graduating from the inner city education cohort at OISE and have gotten a taste of inner city issues and equity, I knew this was my calling. With amazing instructors that are still mentors to this day I learned so much.  I heard that the teaching opportunities were slim but I was on the eligible to hire list with TDSB. I wanted to learn more though and I applied to the masters of urban education program at OISE. I continued it for the next 3 years learning with great profs and equally amazing colleagues with interests in urban education.

It was just 5 years ago I was 23 and teaching 21-65 year olds at SCAS, an adult day school, teaching math and English. It was there I was given a shot by a great admin team to take over 2 English classes and then a math class of my own. Teaching 60 adults from such a diverse background of experiences was very rewarding. I knew though, in my heart it was teenagers I wanted to work with, where I can prevent them from dropping (being pushed) out. The adults were amazing but they realized it was time to go back to school and were back on track to graduate.  A great mentor and principal of the school knew this as well and let me know a nearby high school would be hiring.  There, I fell in love with the school and the amazing staff who not only gave me chances that I couldn’t imagine but truly respected me. So much so that they let me know how young I was by informing me I doubled in age in one semester and my use of cell phones and technology sounded like slot machines dinging :). Unfortunately I was only 0.5 contract and had no placement for September so I went on some interviews. It was over to Eastern Commerce where at first was reluctant to go, I again, found a great place with amazing mentors and really great students.  From credit recovery in almost any subject I ever imagined, to civics / careers and being the sole grade 11/12 chemistry teacher I did it all. It was my first try at coaching with assisting an amazing coach on the football team to running the jr. boys b basketball team. The kids were what kept me going with 6 preps and coaching. Again I had the support of 3 amazing admin who gave me opportunity after opportunity and believed in me to excel. Unfortunately with declining enrolment I was surplus again from a school. At the good bye assembly kids were in tears, booing, and swearing as many of their favourite teachers walked across the stage.

As luck would have it I was placed back at Cedarbrae and it was like I never left. I brought back new ideas and ways of doing things. It was in my masters I was hearing and learning about the big picture in education from teachers, admin, central staff, community workers and instructors. I was again given opportunities to work on curriculum, start on textbook consulting, and work with a team to present ideas and lessons for the Africentric school. This year was great as I presented at many conferences and got to host exploration classrooms where teachers got to watch me teach. To the shock of many they walked in and saw a new/young teacher and seemed sceptical but by the end of the day I had a new found respect from them and I for them. I was lucky to be kept there despite the few scares of being moved again. I wanted to keep on making change so applied to be assistant curriculum leader (department head). I got to be the curriculum leader for the school year. I got to see the bigger picture of how the school works and ways to put in my ideas. I had a lot of support and have made friends and mentors that will last my entire career. I also had challenges thrown at me by colleagues that saw me as making them look bad because of the great work I do. It is sad that you leave high school as a student and enter as a teacher and some teachers gang up and bully others still. The momentum though was continuing and many great opportunities were coming my way. I was working with many community groups both in Regent Park and Scarborough. Pathways to Education was something great integrating in our schools. I got to work with a dedicated team of youth outreach workers who are miracle workers in school and the community.  I also started taking in associate teachers (student teachers) which was an amazing two way learning experience.

Again though I was surplus and sent to Monarch Park.  I again met another great set of admin and staff that have a school culture like no other.  I got to see another new way of teaching and learning with an all star science department.  Teaching International Baccalaureate (IB) for grade 9 science and grade 12 chemistry has been a learning experience for me and has opened my eyes to a different set of students in the school. I look forward to another year at Monarch and building on the foundation of last year.

I am grateful to all the amazing mentors and teachers I have gotten to work with from real life and the Twitterverse.  I think a lot of my PD and teacher resources are coming from digital sources and on-line connections.  You don’t just open a binder any more and let a new teacher copy it.  I am thankful for all those teacher, admin and central staff that have given me the numerous opportunities these past 5 years and the projects I have been a part of from hip hop curriculum, conference presentations, committees at the school, family of schools and board level, numerous EdTech companies, professional development, to this year running our own hackathon.  I am looking forward to another great year and working on new projects, committees and conferences.

Thanks for reading!    

ESL and BitStrips Digital Lesson on Conflict

ESL and BitStrips Digital Lesson on Conflict

Testing something out for the summer! Would love people’s feedback and for people to use this lesson!


Filmon Bereket: My Young Black Child

Amazing work by a student at my school!

The launch of Rhymes To Re-Education #HipHopEd

Full Album Here:

What a great event!  The launch was everything a strong community event could ask for! The community was there! The change makers, community works, teachers, board employees, librarians and even the trustee and superintendent came out to support the launch.

Mahlikah acknowledged the land in which we learn and grow together on.  Toronto being the meeting place where this resource and learning has taken place.  In Hip Hop the DJ and the beat is considered the root.  The drum is the root for people, mother, and Earth as they have the same root word. We hear the drum we are hearing the heartbeat of our mother the Earth.  – Mahlikah


Ramon introduced Motion and J-Rebel to kick off the event with a demonstration of the art of MC’ing and Break Dancing while DJ Power laid down the beat.  The vibe in the room was contagious and sense of strength resonated through the room.  Ramon discussed with high energy the journey we took to get to the resource.  He acknowledged the communities already using Hip Hop and how it has been happening.  Ramon put a call out to the cypher to have artists and educators all together to create the hip hop curriculum.


Moose from Success Beyond Limits presented an amazing spoken word piece in the space.  It is youth like Moose that we want to engage in our systems and empower them to continue the amazing things they are doing for the community and be proud.


The rest of the evening was a huge success with so many great people from the community coming together with the sounds of hip hop in the background.  Seeing so many people who care so much for the youth in our city was amazing.  There were people from all walks and all occupations in the space.  Hosting it in the Yorkwoods library just one block down from Jane and Finch was important.  To bring these successes and celebrations into the community where the youth are from is imperative.

The journey of myself as one of the teachers in the TDSB writing and working together with artists to give lesson feedback has been amazing.  I have learned so much from the community educators and artists and made new bonds.  It has also reinforced, not that I have ever doubted myself, that teaching students in urban areas is what I love to do.  Coming together to meet at Lawrence Heights Community Centre and working together to make a difference for youth is something I love to do.  It is important to acknowledge that learning by teachers and by youth doesn’t have to take place in classrooms in schools but also in the community.  At the same time the learning youth do in community needs to be acknowledged and happening in the classroom as well. I am proud to be part of the TDSB and being supported by them to be a part of this resource.

Thank you to all the amazing authors and for the amazing experience that will be on going.   Below is the list of all the people involved in the project!  Special shout out to Ramon who organized and brought everyone together!  He is a huge role model to me.


Ramon “Rugged” San Vicente


Karen Murray Itah Sadu


Nigel Bariffe
Karen Murray
Amanda Parris
Ramon “Rugged” San Vicente


Wendy “Motion” Brathwaite
Roderick “RAHD” Brereton
Joseph “Joe G” Galiwango
Alison Gaymes San Vicente
Duane “D.O.” Gibson
Joseph “J Rebel” Hersco
Dalton Higgins
Danielle “Yelly” Koehler
Tesfai Mengesha
Jelani “J Wyze” Nias
Amanda Parris
Ramon “Rugged” San Vicente
Chelsea Takalo
Braxton “HiPPYxHop” Wignall
Brandon Zoras

Youth Writing Team

Luis “SPIN” Mejicano (Youth Coordinator) Kenny “Nii Soja” Adjetey
Shukri Dualeh
Trae Maxam
Aaleem Mohammed
Gazariah Morrison
Patricia Ghany
Cenzi Stilos


Director: Subliminal (Sean Mauricette)
Clairmont II Humphrey
Janeel Marshall
Trae Maxam


Nigel Bariffe
Akir Brathwaite CaveMan
Catherine Draper
Sameena Eidoo
Paul Green
Abshir Hassan
Clairmont II Humphrey
Nigel Hunter
Cade John
Salima Kassam
Teenat Khan
Janeel Marshall
Trae Maxam
Luis “SPIN” Mejicano
Gazariha Morrison
Lashawn Murray
Kenny “Nii Soja” Adjetey
Robin Phillips
Sharron Rosen
Itah Sadu
Moziah San Vicente
Nyelah San Vicente
Sojourner San Vicente
Subliminal (Sean Mauricette)




Rhymes to Re-Education Critical Hip Hop Curriculum Launch! #HipHopEd

I have had the pleasure to work with such a great team of Toronto Hip Hop Artists (all the elements) and Educators to put together this resource.  Nearly a year in the making, this resource brought together the community of people who want to see youth succeed in school and life!  It is about teaching through critical pedagogy and hip hop pedagogy to get youth to examine issues and make change in their communities.  School is not helping everyone to succeed, this resource is a counter to traditional teaching styles, pedagogy and curriculum which will engage students in your class or community. The lessons range from Grade 2 – 12 and have something for everyone with Ontario Curriculum links.  This resource is not just for school but a community resource that can be used after school and summer programs.  The website and YouTube channel also have a ton of information and downloads to accompany the book. Very proud of the entire team and how far we have come!

I hope to see you at the launch this Tuesday!


Yorkwoods Library 
1785 Finch Ave West 
6 PM – 7:30 PM

Check the Facebook Event

Rhymes to Re-Education Website:

Rhymes to Re-Education Twitter:

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Some of the great authors include:

Wendy “Motion” Brathwaite Roderick “RAHD” Brereton Joseph “Joe G” Galiwango Alison Gaymes San Vicente Duane “D.O.” Gibson Joseph “J Rebel” Hersco Dalton Higgins Danielle “Yelly” Koehler Tesfai Mengesha Jelani “J Wyze” Nias Amanda Parris Ramon “Rugged” San Vicente Chelsea Takalo Braxton “HiPPYxHop” Wignall Brandon Zoras Youth Writing Team Luis “SPIN” Mejicano (Youth Coordinator) Kenny “Nii Soja” Adjetey Shukri Dualeh Trae Maxam Aaleem Mohammed Gazariah Morrison Patricia Ghany Cenzi Stilos


TDSB STEPWISE Initiative: A Google Apps for Education Action Research Study #GAFEsummit

Google in Education Ontario Summit: EdTech Team 2014

2014-04-05 EdTechTeam Ontario Summit featuring Google for Education

TDSB STEPWISE Initiative: A Google Apps for Education Action Research Study

Presentation by Brandon Zoras and Joseph Romano


Screenshot 2014-04-05 at 10.24.10 AM




Hip Hop as Critical Pedagogy – Rhymes to Re-Education #HipHopEd #RhymesEdu

Today was an amazing day with so many amazing Toronto teachers!  Below is my Prezi

included is my masters work, Dr Emdin’s TedTalk and a breakdown of Akom’s article

Click here for Akom’s article:

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Make sure to follow Rhymes to Re-Education on:



As well use the hashtags #HipHopEd #HipHopEdTO and #RhymesEdu

Bonus here is AkaSubliminal’s Freestyle to Ramon’s Beat


Black History Month Conference Keynote Michael Eric Dyson – UTSC

John River – hope city – opened up the keynote with great stories through spoken word of the lived experience of a youth in our city

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Michael Eric Dyson was beyond amazing! Below are my notes I was trying to scramble down on my phone as he was speaking!



These are his words and opinions below. Although I agree with many of it, this is notes I took from him speaking!

We need transformation of the world that we live. Many aspects are part of our identity: colour, race, sexual orientation etc. We are in evolution and becoming who we are meant to be.

We all are wanting recognition of our humanity where society punishes us for our differences

Man kills a youth because the youth’s very identity provoked fear.

Another young man was gunned down because he provoked suspicion.

His very own identity has provoked this.

People are allergic to difference

People are uncomfortable with difference

Move to a radical preoccupation where all of gods children should be treated equally with love

When we talk about the 3rd world it is actually 2/3 of the world. They look like most of the people in the world

Difference is what challenges the norm, the narrow cookie cutter norms.

We live in a world where people are incapable of acknowledging difference.

They try to justify their homophobia on their racial identity. That isn’t blackness! They are ostracizing another group

He spoke of jealously of freedom struggle. How do they take our freedom struggle. Where is the copyright on freedom struggle. Would Martin Luther king pay royalties to Ghandi? Ghandi is a internationalist and globalist.

Give the life you have had and repurpose and repackage so it has a broader and deeper impact

People of colour are getting upset because their stuff(stuggle) is getting taken over

We go to church and then have to be homophobic again

This homophobia we nurture in the womb of our identity, that those practices of justice are what it is to be black or brown or yellow.

We got to challenge this

Sexuality is one issue

Shades is another

No racism but colour coordinated oppression going on!

Darker people are catching hell.

Indian people have shadism

The currency of acceptance is the demonization of colour!

Colourism is real within and between groups. It has to be challenged, we must celebrate all beauty

It’s hard to be a youth, older people are mad a young people

The older people paid the price and suffered so you can have it well.

Dying for freedoms they could never enjoy. Wearing the military uniform could get you beaten up (referring to American history where first black soldiers servered the US and came back to America, would be beaten up for wearing their uniform).

How do we talk about the N word. He first heard it from the pastor It’s not their privilege

Can’t call women bitches either

Snatched the chain of oppression, Nigger VS nigga

Its Linguistic appropriation

Sell out for that day. If you trying to get a job pull your pants up and sell out for that day.

Hip hop has issues but so does church: Misogyny, homophobia etc

Hip hop is judged the most. There is variety within the art form. Some is great and other is whack

Christopher Wallace (Notorious BIG) – famous philosopher

Listen to the pain in hip hop

Sean Carter – teachers couldn’t reach me

Conscious rap – Mos Def and Talib Kwali

Issue of gender

We saw we want to protect women from gangster rappers

They are the objects of lustful desires

Learn some other women! learn something new about the women you already know!

Real men aren’t afraid of real women

Systemic issues and disproportionate number of coloured people in jail

People from their own groups will replicate and duplicate harmful beliefs about their own communities.

People of colour think of abuse as love

Black church has to stop beating up on minorities within minorities. Having same faith is fine but you don’t have to have same religion

We try to get god to sign onto our bigotry

Below is advice he gave to a youth

Read as much as you can. Learn new words, read the dictionary, and learn a new word each day. Speak and listen to people you admire.

Words he gave to an adult on how to speak to youth

Talk to young people not lecture. They want limits and boundaries. They have friends, they need a parent. Give them a sense of what is possible. Willingness to admit error.IMG_4829