My ideas, thoughts, and experiences

Month: April 2020

Week 8 – Technology Operations and Concepts Reflection

Course Readings:

Sterling, L., “Session L : Coding in the curriculum : Fad or foundational?” (2016). 2009 – 2019 ACER Research Conferences. 4. Retrieved from:

  • issue – what concepts are being addressed in teaching coding and how essential are they for engendering an understanding of the digital world around us, and improving productivity and innovation?
  • we (teachers) tend to take advantage of the fact that computers are now essential in schools, and students need basic computer literacy skills
  • how to teach computational thinking? and where should it be placed in the curriculum?
    • general lack of agreement in whether computational thinking should ultimately be incorporated into education as a general subject, a discipline-specific topic, or a multi-disciplinary topic
  • to teach computer programming in school or not?
    • ‘coding in the curriculum’ seems to be the current preferred option to programming
    • benefits to teaching code from an early age?
      • thinking engendered by coding (general problem-solving and design skills)
      • appreciation of what computers can and cannot do
      • providing exposure (encourage more students to take up careers in coding)
    • objections to placing coding in the curriculum
      • does not come from an adequate pedagogical basis
      • no evidence base establishing that coding is beneficial (not correct, but evidence is primarily anecdotal)
      • push for coding is primarily about vested interests
      • current popular ‘Scratch like’ environments are too limited to learn the important programming concepts
    • space can be made in the curriculum to connect coding to math and science lessons
  • Important to provide opportunities to children

My Experience:

Our district has been on board and supportive since the beginning. We even have a district coding arcade put together each year where kids create coding games and showcase them to other students and families in the district.

As a Grade 2/3 teacher over the past few years, I have seen the growing fad of incorporating coding into the curriculum. I agree with the author of the article for this week in the sense that it is important to provide these types of coding opportunities to children as exposure to what is possible in the world of technology. My young students are still learning what coding means, but by engaging in activities such as the Hour of Code each year and practicing their game creation by progressing through step by step instructions on, they are developing computational thinking and gaining a deeper understanding of how technology works.

My Perspective:

Is coding a fad or is it something that needs to be integrated into every curriculum? Why or Why not?

I think it is something that can easily be integrated into the BC curriculum in a variety of ways at each grade level. In the primary years it can be taught without the use of technology by coding and giving directions in play. In the middle years it can be integrated into literacy by having students tell a story using Scratch, and in the older years it can be coding robots to complete a task in shop class! I think coding teaches computational thinking and exposes students to a different way of engaging with technology that they didn’t know was possible before.

Just as the author of the article mentioned, we engage students in other creative endeavours (music, art, etc.) and this is another form of creative expression that students might really gravitate towards.

What is the role of computer science in digital literacies?

The study of computer science (coding) allows students to explore a relationship and language with technology that they did not know existed before and manipulate that relationship to get their desired outcome.

We are becoming more and more digital (especially during the Covid-19 pandemic) and students are engage with digital platforms more than ever before. But they don’t necessarily understand how they do what they do. I think it’s important to provide students insight into that.

How are emerging educational technology trends impacting your learning context?

As a young millennial teacher who is interested in all new technology – I am always game to explore the new trend (with district approval if need be). Personally, I find this process very exciting, and the more experience I get as a teacher, the better I get an integrating them into what I am already teaching in the classroom.

What I am learning now, through my ongoing masters project research, is how to build an environment and a space where I can help the whole staff be risk takers when it comes to technology. I am very happy to say that during this uncertainty in remote teaching and learning, most of our teachers have tested and tried things that they never thought they would! And I am so proud!

Week 7 Communication and Collaboration Reflection

Course Reading:

Rothwell, D. (2017). Social Media in K-12 Schools. BOLT Multi-authored Blog. [Weblog]. Retrieved from

  • should school policies be framed in safety (to monitor and block student access to new technologies) or should policies be framed in media literacy (to integrate and teach students how to utilize new technologies within the classroom)?
  • the use of social network sites have been cited as having potential to support collaborative knowledge construction, timely access to information, academic help – seeking, development of communication competencies, and blurring the lines between learning, social, and leisure spaces
  • research uncovered five common themes in the studies of SNS integration in K-12 classrooms:
    • students informal learning outside of school
      • spaces to organize group activities , seek social support, and validate created work
      • platform of self-expression
      • can be easily distracting to students (research encourage use of ‘technology breaks’ to improve focus and stamina)
    • students formal learning in schools and classrooms
      • students are keen to use the social networking platforms to connect , interact, and develop new literacy competencies
      • teachers need more help recognizing how to utilize SNS as a learning and teaching tool
    • connections between in-and out-of-school learning
      • “the more time students spent informally with social network sites and similar technology, the more they craved the use of those tools in their learning environment – especially for visualizing difficult material”
      • students feel that current use is limited and mainly used for assignment submission and grade management
    • pre-service teachers perceptions and practices
      • although they are often willing to try new things, they lacked experience and expertise in integrating these technologies into learning
      • intend to use SNS to increase student-to-teacher and student-to -student interactions, foster collaboration, and share content knowledge – HOWEVER – there is a need for teacher education programs to simulate these experiences for these beginning teachers to improve their effectiveness at employing these technologies
    • in-service teachers perceptions and practices
      • teachers’ positive shifts in their teaching practices by gradually ceding control over the use of technology to students, and the positive impact of this on students ICT skills and science learning
  • studies showed that SNS MAY enhance motivation, higher-order thinking and digital literacy development – HOWEVER – it lacked a review of studies that monitored the social impact of SNS
  • nothing to show best practices
  • people looking for evidence based data to support the use of technology in education

Couros, A., & Hildebrandt, K. (2016). Designing for open and social learning. In G. Veletsianos (Ed.), Emergence and innovation in digital learning: Foundations and applications. Edmonton, Canada: AU Press. Retrieved from:

  • theoretical foundations
    • the open movement
    • complementary learning theories (social cognitive theory, social constructivism, and adult learning theory)
    • connectivism
  • concept of ‘open teaching’
    • the facilitation of learning experiences that are open, transparent, collaborative, and social
  • important to develop a PLN and promote the continued development within your context

Expansion of Couros’ research is the Open Learning Continuum

My Experiences:

My experience as a teacher using digital tools to support communication and collaboration is limited as I have been primarily teaching grade 2/3 these past 5 years. There are very few digital tools that have been approved by my district for use and are easily accessible for the age group of my students.

However, as classroom education evolves during the time of this pandemic – we are looking at exploring some different options. Right now I am using FreshGrade as my primary communication platform. It is a great way to communicate information out to families and engage with students online, however, there is no way for students to engage with each other.

One of the platforms that one of our grade one teachers is using right now is Padlet as a way for kids to share ideas and photos of what they are doing throughout the week.

As school administrators we are using Twitter and Instagram to connect and share information with families. We seem to have increased our following by quite a bit over the last few weeks!

I have really enjoyed my experience in this M.Ed Technology cohort as it has exposed me to this firsthand – in the world of post secondary education. I have not been able to connect with any of my classmates face to face as I live in Vancouver, however, there have been many opportunities provided inside and outside of our learning environment to connect and collaborate.

We have:

  • a class website
  • we each have a blog and our feeds are aggregated on our class website
  • used BlueJeans and Zoom to connect with each other virtually each week to discuss course readings (led by the course instructor)
  • have been able to have small group conversations using BlueJeans and Zoom (monitored by the course instructor)
  • Whatsapp group (which didn’t have everyone included on it – so it is not being used as much anymore)
  • Slack channels for coursework, random, and a locked student chat
  • Twitter hashtag to follow (#TIEgrad) discussions and thoughtful posts related to our learning

My Perspective:

What are some examples of digital tools that support communication and collaboration?

  • Google Classroom
  • Google Meet
  • Zoom
  • Padlet
  • Blogs
  • Social Media (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, TikTok, etc.)

How can digital tools expand learning beyond classroom walls?

  • helps to develop class community (sharing and hearing from others)
  • allows students to communicate and connect with classmates (brainstorm, ideate, etc.) that are not in the same place
  • allows students to develop different forms of digital literacies
  • allows students to make connections to things they are seeing outside of the classroom – news, current events, etc.
  • an opportunity to share their thoughts (especially if they are socially isolated)

How does your project promote communication and collaboration between students in your class and with others outside your learning context?

  • students share their poem with others digitally (Google Classroom, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, etc.) for review and feedback

Digital Citizenship – Developing & Designing for Safe Learning Spaces

Course Readings:

Kral, I. & Schwab, R.G. (2012). Chapter 4: Design Principles for Indigenous Learning Spaces. Safe Learning Spaces. Youth, Literacy and New Media in Remote Indigenous Australia. ANU Press.  Retrieved from:

Design Principle 1: A space young people can control

  • historically learning is controlled by institutions (usually with a deficit attitude towards Indigenous students)
  • adolescents tent to be early school leavers or not attending classes regularly
  • policies are often punitive
  • there are few spaces in the public domain where Aboriginal people experience a sense of control
  • access to technology in many remote communities may still be mediated through a non-indigenous ‘gatekeeper’ (new affordable mobile devices are changing that)

Design Principle 2: A space for hanging out and ‘mucking around’

  • ‘digital bedroom’ – one of the most vibrant digital learning spaces for adolescents
  • adolescents in remote communities often do not have that luxury
  • informal learning spaces such as media centers, youth centers, and libraries perform an important function as a communal ‘digital bedroom’
  • access  to new technologies and control of digital practices is allowing young people to gain control, not only over the production process and editing, but also self-representation (structuring their own learning environment based on what is available in the community)

Design Principle 3: A space where learners learn

  • what makes a good facilitator of learning?
    • passionate about what they do
    • ability to teach complex technical skills which engaging learners
    • give agency to young people (don’t seem themselves as ‘bosses’)
    • highly collaborative and respectful (respect for and interest in the language and culture of the learners)
    • facilitated productive learning activities that are project based, rather than assessment driven, and built upon a sense of mutual respect, development of relationships, and recognition of learners existing knowledge
    • allows for peer training

Design Principle 4: A space to grow into new roles and responsibilities

  • expert mentors and other enabling adults play an important supporting role help keep kids engaged in ongoing projects
  • opportunities for students to take on meaningful roles and responsibilities (e.g. video making in a group)
  • ‘rules’ or expectations created by those engaging in the activities in the space

Design Principle 5: A space to practice oral and written language

  • new forms of interactions with adults in the project sites are allowing young people to negotiate different types of social relations where they engage in complex turn-taking interactions with an expectation of high communicative competence
  • young people listen to and interpret instructions, request clarifications, and initiate ideas and actions (become risk takers)
  • mother tongue is valued
  • critical that we conceptualize literacy not only as a skill learned at school, but also as a competency acquired in community with others (without the need for formal lessons)

Design Principle 6: A space to express self and cultural identity through multimodal forms

  • minorities need to see themselves in their learning

Design Principle 7: A space to develop and engage in enterprise

  • cultural values important
  • activities tied to meaningful community projects
  • collaborative intergenerational activities

Design Principle 8: A space to engage with the world 

  • integrating history and the past with digital and contemporary methods

Regan, P., & Jesse, J. (2019). Ethical challenges of edtech, big data and personalized learning: Twenty-first century student sorting and tracking. Ethics and Information Technology, 21(3), 167-179. DOI: 10.1007/s10676-018-9492-2

  • “one of the most heavily marketed, exciting, and controversial applications of edtech involves the varied educational programs to which different students are exposed based on how big data applications have evaluated their likely learning profiles”
  • these raise ethical concerns, especially at a K-12 level
    • information privacy
    • anonymity
    • surveillance
    • autonomy
    • non-discrimination
    • ownership of information
  • are personalized learning programs similar to concerns raised about educational tracking in the 1950’s

My Experiences:

How I have been considering this in my own context?

In the district that I work in, we have district staff the approve digital resources. This team looks at all of those ethical concerns above and works with platforms to help mitigate the risk or walk away from it all together.

This has been a relatively new phenomenon. In the past, teachers have introduces new platforms and applications as a way to engage in a new, fun, and exiciting way. However, there was not much thought about how this could effect our students data.

We are now more aware and things are approved at a district level before being passed off to classroom teachers to integrate and use. However, I have become even more cautious after learning so much in our summer courses last year about data sharing online.

Something that came up once this year was one of our Grade 1 teachers wanted to use an aging app to take pictures of students and age them in order to print pictures of them for 100’s day. However, I heavily suggested against it as it is an application that then has all these little childrens photos saved on it.

I am happy to know that it is becoming second nature for me to questions the privacy and policies of all digital platforms.

We are especially feeling this right now as a conversation has arisen around video conferencing in many districts.

My Perspectives:

How does  a safe learning space influence student learning?

  • its crucial to develop a safe learning space in order for students to become comfortable enough to take risks (academic, social, and emotional risks) in the classroom
  • this can be done in the 4 walls of a classroom, but also online (as I am learning to how do)

How can educators ensure student privacy and safety is considered in digital environments?

  • reading privacy policies before signing students up
  • communicating with their district technology support person
  • finding out what kind of data is linked to their Google Suite
  • teach them about sharing online and examples of some popular sites and the prevalence of data mining

How does your project consider individual student digital identity, safety and choice while encouraging individual cultures and perspectives?

  • working on it….

Creativity and Innovation – MakerSpaces

Course Reading:

Resnick, M. (2007). All I really need to know (about creative thinking) I learned (by studying how children learn) in kindergarten. In Proceedings of the 6th ACM SIGCHI conference on Creativity & Cognition (pp. 1–6). New York, NY, USA: ACM. (This link is updated from the course outline.)

  • in a society characterized by uncertainty and rapid change, the ability to think creatively is becoming the key to success and satisfaction (learning to come up with innovative solutions to unexpected situations)
  • kindergarten approach to learning should be applied to all other levels (spiralling cycle of Imagine, Create, Play, Share, Reflect)
    • children imagine what they want to do, create a project based on their ideas, play with their creations, share their ideas and creations with others, reflect on their experiences – all of which lead them to imagine new ideas and new projects
  • as students get older, their materials need to change (digital technologies can play a transformative role here)
    • materials need to be multipurpose and not too specific that it directs how kids are supposed to engage with it
    • provide kids with more opportunities
    • more open ended materials where kids have to be creative
  • PLAY
    • plan and learning CAN and SHOULD be intimately linked
    • focus should be on ‘play’ and ‘learning’ (things you do – active learning) rather than ‘entertainment’ and ‘education’ (things that other provide for you – learner is passive)
    • generally received less emphasis in later years of schooling
    • focus in Reggio Emilia, Italy is the way their encourage children to reflect on their design process  and thinking process (shown in drawings and pictures on the walls)

My Experiences:

How do I engage students in this process in my context?

For the past 5 years I have taught some combination of grades 1, 2, and 3. Ever since the beginning, I have strongly believed in the inclusion of play in the classroom. Early on in my career I was doing a lot of free play once a week – and kids viewed it as an opportunity for ‘free time’. As I have gained experience and understanding, I have included it into my practice daily, as well as integrated it into as much of our academic content teaching as well.

This year I teach grade two and I decided to alter our morning routine. It used to be a worksheet activity last year, but this year I wanted to provide students an opportunity for a gently entry in the morning as well as an opportunity to connect with their peers. So each morning this year I have set out activities for the students to engage in. These materials I have been collecting over the years and throughout the year I have added new ones and taken out other ones that don’t seem to capture their attention.

For literacy, I have started engaging students in creative thinking and story ideation with loose parts. This is a tactic in which you provide students with a variety of materials with the hopes that it will help them create a visual of their story, so they remember it, and gain creative ideas for new stories. I started this by modeling my own and having them recreate a story. Then we transitioned into creating visuals a part of their weekend, and then finally have been moving into more creative stories of their own.

For our Units of Inquiry (Social Studies and Science curriculum) I have also worked in some form of creation for them to show their understanding of the concept. In the past I have done:

  • using materials provided, move a LEGO man 1 meter and explain the forces that are helping him move (Content: Force in Motion)
  • create a story of a water droplet moving through the different parts of the water cycle (Content: Water Cycle)
  • create a way to share tourism information about a province of your choice – using  low tech or high tech materials  (Content: Regions of Canada)

For math, I have found that students really need to manipulate materials in order to develop a concrete understanding of number sense. A routine that I continually come back to is called Counting Collections. It has students gather a collection of the same materials (# is dependent on the level of understanding). Students then use their understanding of number to find ways to skip count and reach the total number in the collection. They complete this routine in partners. This way, it ensures students are discussing their mathematical thinking and collaborating on ways to solve the problem (how they are going to count, who is going to do the counting, who is going to do the grouping, etc.).

I am by no means and expert in this, and I am always inspired by my primary colleagues at my school and across districts!

I strongly believe that in order for students to develop a solid foundational understanding of concepts, they need to move through the process of imagine, create, play, share, and reflect.

What materials do I use?

  • LEGO
  • blocks
  • Keva Planks
  • Magnatiles
  • Geometric shapes
  • Marble Run
  • Kinetic Sand
  • Water beads
  • Paper and Paint
  • Loose Parts (popsicle sticks, buttons, feathers, sea glass, small blocks, leaves, tile, corks, mirrors, peg people, felt mats, etc.)

My Perspectives:

How could maker-spaces support creativity and innovation in my learning context and/or project?

As you can tell from my answers above, I think the use of maker-space activities can help support the development and acquisition of creativity and innovation in all learners. As mentioned by one of our guest speakers this week, we have so much content to get through in a week – especially in intermediate grades – so it’s important to integrate play and exploration into already existing content acquisition across the subjects.

What kinds of digital tools encourage creativity and innovation?

I do not have much experience with using digital tools to encourage creativity and innovation other than platforms to show their understanding of a concept – where they can create a presentation of some sort (e.g. Adobe Spark Video, Book Creator, etc.).

The article mentioned the use of Scratch as a way for students to create a story using code.

I would LOVE to hear any other suggestions of digital tools to engage students in the creation and innovation realm of learning!