App Smashing with ELL Students defines “App Smashing” as “The process of using multiple apps in conjunction with one another to complete a final task or project.”  When teachers create assignments that require the use of multiple apps, it not only increases the engagement of their students, but it also allows them to learn about many new applications which they can use for other assignments in the future.  An example of this process worked very successfully when an ELL teacher working at both Pickering High School and Dunbarton High School decided to use “app smashing” to revamp an assignment she had used in the past.

ELL teacher, Nicole Hardy, was eager to learn how to better integrate technology into her teaching practice and was willing to try things out with her students even if they were new to her.  When she told me about a project that she used with her ELL students in the past, where students present their “journey to Canada” stories, I thought it was the perfect opportunity for an app smash.  The project already had multiple elements and steps which perfectly lent themselves to many different applications. So we formulated a plan which included me modelling a new app for the students each week when I was in the building and then Nicole would work with the students on the actual content of their projects between my visits.

The goal of the summative project was to give each student an opportunity to share their personal stories and experiences regarding the journey from their native country to life here in Canada.

Here are the applications the students used and what they used them for:





read and write logo

Read & Write for Google Chrome

Text to Speech and Translation tools

  • Reading stories of other students who have immigrated to Canada
Docs Logo

Google Docs

Tables, Speech to Text, and Translation tools

  • Comparing and contrasting their personal story to other students’ stories
  • Writing their own stories in narrative essay format
  • Creating a script that incorporates their stories
Drawings Logo

Google Drawings

Image search and Modification tools

  • Collecting a series of related photos for use in their video interview

Google Drive Logo

Google Drive

File Storage for use in multiple apps


Google Image Search

Using advanced search tools to find creative commons images cleared for reuse

Wevideo Logo


Webcam Record, Essential Library, Colour Keying, and Video Editing tools

  • Recording a video of themselves in the style of an interview including collected images and appropriate visual aids
Google Sites Logo

Google Sites

Website creation, video, image  and document embedding

  • Developing a website to display all of the above
Google My Maps Logo

Google My Maps

Creation of a shared world map where each student could link their final project to their native country

  • Students could use this map to share their completed websites with other students as well as view and comment on their peers’ projects
  • Since students from both schools were included in the same shared map, they were also able to connect with other ELL students from a neighbouring school
Google Classroom Logo

Google Classroom

Posting of announcements and assignments as well as sharing of documents in order to facilitate collaboration among ELL students at different schools

  • Used by the teacher as a way of communicating information and expectations as well as providing ongoing feedback throughout the process
  • Also used by students as a way to collaborate and communicate with each other

In the end, each student created a website which described the stories of hope, struggle, determination, loss and joy through the journey that brought them to Canada. They could then share their stories with other students who’s own journeys had brought them to the same destination.  Visitors to their websites could hear and read the stories that helped to shape the person they were and the person they will become in the future. Along the way, the students learned several different tools which will undoubtedly help them as they continue to navigate the challenges encountered by anyone who is attempting to learn in a language that is not their native tongue.  



I truly enjoyed working with this open-minded teacher and her amazing students and I hope they all felt our partnership was as valuable as I did.

Leave a Reply

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

You are commenting using your 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