My ideas, thoughts, and experiences

Author: msemilymiller (page 2 of 3)

Manipulating Data to Tell a Story – Excel/Google Sheets

Step-by-step guides from Rich McCue  from the UVic Digital Scholarship Library:

Technology Integration in the Elementary Classroom

Alec Couros – Dropping knowledge on the #tiegrad’s

Ideas to ponder:

  • SAMR Model of Technology Integration (see above)
    • teacher has to be proficient in the tool and the ecosystem in which it exists before asking students to use it
    • it’s okay to be hesitant – start small (not every integration needs to be at the redefinition level)
  • Using YouTube as a research/learning tool
  • There is an abundance of information and tools out there for students to use, put them in situations where they can communicate in their ‘language’ and then translate it into a safe and generally understood platform
  • Providing opportunities and choice for students in order to show their learning (once they know how to acquire the knowledge, they need to explore different ways to show it

“If students are doing the same things in the classroom, are we really being innovative?” – Alec Couros

  • Social Media is a great way to connect to a network (develop your PLN)
  • Social Media can also be a teaching tool (students learning in multimodalities)
  • Using Social Media and crowd sourcing to learn (e.g. ‘The Learning Project’ by Alec Couros, videos by Mike Boyd)
  • Technology in the Elementary School context
    • Grades K-3:
      • understanding how to consume information
      • robotics
      • makerspaces
    • Grades 4-7
      • understanding the world of connecting and developing and understanding an audience
      • targeted ads
      • digital sleuthing (using the internet to find out all the information you can on someone *with their permission*)
      • practice Tweeting (papers around the room – limited characters, can comment below)
      • Twitter template (students have to submit potential Tweets and class discusses their thoughts)
      • FlipGrid

Lingering Question(s): Work in progress

  • How do you have conversations with staff members who are concerned about engaging with social media in the school context?

Quantitative Data and Social Media

This week in EDCI 515 we are exploring the concept of quantitative data collection for research purposes. Some examples of quantitative data collection that could be used for research are: statistics, sampling strategies, questionnaires, and surveys. The importance of quantitative data collection allows for development of a solid conclusion to a question based on numerical findings.

See below for difference between Qualitative and Quantitative research.

Qualitative Inquiry Quantitative Inquiry
  • seeks to build an understanding of phenomena (i.e. human behaviour, cultural or social organization)
  • often focused on meaning (i.e. how do people make sense of their lives, experiences, and their understanding of the world?)
  • may be descriptive: the research describes complex phenomena such as: social or cultural dynamics, individual perception
  • seeks explanation or causation


  • Qualitative inquiry is often used for exploratory questions, such as How? or Why? questions.


  • How do breast cancer survivors adapt to their post-mastectomy body?
  • How is bereavement experienced differently by mothers and fathers?
  • Quantitative research aims to be more conclusive and pertain to larger populations, answering questions such as What? When? Where?


  • When should women have their first mammogram?
  • What is the relation between bereavement and clinical depression?
  • may be comprised of words, behaviors, images
  • the goal is data that can enhance the understanding of a phenomenon
  • can be manipulated numerically
  • the goal is precise, objective, measurable data that can be analyzed with statistical procedures
  • Because the goal is exploratory, the researcher often may only know roughly what they are looking for. Thus, the design of the project may evolve as the project is in progress in order to ensure the flexibility needed to provide a thorough understanding of the phenomenon in question
  • A central tenet of quantitative research is the strictly controlled research design in which researchers clearly specify in advance which data they will measure, and the procedure that will be used to obtain the data
Data collection
  • researchers are themselves instruments for data collection, via methods such as in-depth interviewing or participant observation. Data are thus mediated through a human instrument
  • date often collected ‘in the field’: the researcher observes or records behavior or interviews the participants in their natural setting (e.g. a clinic, the family home)
  • tools are employed to collect numerical data (e.g., surveys, questionnaires or equipment)
  • research environment is often a controlled representation of reality
Informant Selection
  • usually collected from small non-random samples (e.g., purposive samples, convenience samples, snow-balled samples)
  • not ‘measurable’ in a quantifiable or mathematical way
  • the aim is ensure that a sample is representative of the population from which it is drawn
  • gold standard is a random sample
  • often inductive: the researcher builds abstractions, concepts, hypotheses, and theories from the data gathered
  • often relies on the categorization of data (words, phrases, concepts) into patterns
  • sometimes this data will then be embedded in larger cultural or social observations and analyses
  • Often complexity and a plurality of voices is sought
  • often deductive: precise measurement, mathematical formula, testing hypotheses



  • The goal of qualitative research is to understand participants’ own perspectives as embedded in their social context
  • contextually based and thus do not seek generalizability in the same sense as quantitative research
  • Goal is prediction, generalizability, causality


For our EDCI 568 course, we were looking at a quantitative research paper on “Twitter Use and its Effects on Student Perception of Instructor Credibility” by DeGroot, Young, & VanSlette (2015). Some of the findings from this study are mentioned below.


RQ1: Is the type of instructor Twitter use (social, professional, or a blend of the two) associated with student perceptions of instructor credibility?

RQ2: Above and beyond the content in the Twitterfeed, do perceptions of instructor credibility differ based on whether students believe it is a good idea or a bad idea for an instructor to use Twitter?

RQ3: Does student use of Twitter (ie., frequency, use of Twitter for social versus professional use) change the association between the profile content and perceptions of instructor credibility?

RQ4: How do students describe the potential positive and negative effects of an instructor using Twitter?

Process of Research

  • Researchers used both quantitative and qualitative methods to examine perceived differences in instructor credibility based on the content of hypothetical instructors’ Twitterfeeds
  • Participants were asked to gauge their own social and professional Twitter use by answering two questions on a continuum (completely social –> completely professional)*sliding response scale
  • Three hypothetical instructor Twitter accounts were created (1) an account with only social tweets, (2) an account with tweets of only academic and professional messages, and (3) an equal blend of the tweets from the social and professional tweets (social = personal life [16 total], professional = relevant to professors teaching and research [16 total], blend = alternating social and professional [22 total]
  • Names and profile photos on the accounts were all female, shared the same name, and were purposefully generic
  • Quantitative Measurement
    • Assessed using the Source Credibility Measure (McCroskey & Teven, 1999; Teven & McCroskey, 1997)
    • 3 separate subscales: competence, goodwill/caring, and trust
    • Each subscale included 6  bipolar adjectives with a 7-point response *reverse scored
    • reflect on reasons why it would be a good idea and a bad idea for their instructors to have a Twitter account (responses given)
  • Qualitative Measurement
    • Open ended questions regarding the students perception of the instructors
    • Comments were thematically analyzed


  • Were recruited by the researching posting calls (out to university Blackboard sites and on social media sites – Facebook and Twitter)
    • 239 individuals
    • Criteria:
      • Current college students
      • Twitter user (Average = user for 2.6 years)
      • Between 18-89 years old (Average = 20.5 years old)
      • 65.7% female
      • Primarily Caucasian (76.6%), 12.6% African American, 6.3% Asian, 2.5% Hispanic, 2.1% Multiracial, 1.3% American Indian
      • Range of academic majors and distributed across years of education



  • Participants rated the professional Twitterfeed significantly more credible than the social Twitterfeed and the professional Twitterfeed was also marginally more credible than the blended Twitterfeed
  • Students rated the blended Twitterfeed as significantly more credible than the social Twitterfeed


  • Organized into themes
  • “It keeps the students connected with the professor”
  • “Extending the classroom”
  • “Improving student-instructor relationships”
  • “Metalearning”
  • “Student/teacher relationships should not go much further than the classroom”
  • “Violating classroom and time expectations”
  • “Breaching the student-instructor boundary”

My perspective – I agree with the general result of this study. I think Twitter has a particular advantage because of the way that the platform is set up (can follow, be followed, limited characters, can repost, and comment) for academic purposes. As  Wasin Ahmed writes in his recent article, “Using Twitter as a data source: an overview of social media research tools” , that “Twitter remains the most popular platform for academic research.” As opposed to Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat – where they are geared towards people sharing their own personal experiences, instead of ideas.  By looking at what people post, you can make generalizations about someones professional credibility as well as pull data to gather information on a topic. I appreciate Dr. Valerie Irvine’s presence on Twitter as she not only shares information and research connected to what we are discussing in class, but also connecting us to other people to develop our Personal Learning Network, and engaging in conversation with peers in the field.

When comparing the outcomes for quantitative versus qualitative data collection for research purposes, I think that most of the information I will be collecting in relation to my area of interest will be qualitative. I am interested in the use of technology in the elementary classroom; which was excellent to hear ideas and suggestions from Alec Couros today such as digital sleuthing, targeted ads, and the use of Twitter templates before going online!

However, I could see benefits from researching quantitative data about how the use of technology and social media platforms improve information acquisition for students. This could be done through a questionnaire/survey in combination with a pre and post test on a random topic to see if it improved their understanding.

Supports for Success

The two readings that were provided for EDCI 568 this Wednesday seemed to be in direct contrast with each other. See my notes below for more information from each article.

Why Minimal Guidance During Instruction Does Not Work: An Analysis of the Failure of Constructivist, Discovery, Problem-Based, Experiential, and Inquiry-Based Teaching by Paul A. Kirschner, John Sweller  & Richard E. Clark (2010)

    • The goal of this article is to suggest that based on our current knowledge of human cognitive architecture, minimally guided instruction is likely to be ineffective.
    • Important to consider for this argument: working, long term memory, and the cognitive process
    • Long term memory – central and dominant structure of human cognition (everything that we see, touch, and hear is influenced by our long term memory)
    • Expert problem solvers derive their skill by drawing on the extensive experience stored in their long-term memory and then quickly select and apply the best procedures for solving problems
    • If nothing has been changed in long term memory, then nothing has been learned
    • Minimal guidance during instruction doesn’t allow learners to develop clear and precise pathways of learning to store in long term memory (stays in short term memory and is quickly lost)
    • How to learn needs to be scaffolded (when left to their own devices, higher risk for low aqcuisition of information and development of misconceptions)

Teaching for Meaningful Learning by Dr. Barron & Darling-Hammond, StanfordU

    • The importance of inquiry based teaching and learning in order for students to develop ‘21st century skills’ (inquiry, problem based, learning by design)
    • Types of assessment (ex. rubric) vs. the feedback that it gives (levels of progress)
    • Students learn more deeply when they can apply classroom-gathered knowledge to real-world problems, and when they take part in projects that require sustained engagement and collaboration.
    • Active learning practices have a more significant impact on student performance than any other variable, including student background and prior achievement.
    • Students are most successful when they are taught how to learn as well as what to learn.
    • These ‘new’ learning experiences require simultaneous changes in curriculum, instruction, and assessment practices

Class Discussion and Questions to Consider

As mentioned by Barron and Hammond,

“decades of research illustrate the benefits of inquiry-based and cooperative learning to help students develop the knowledge and skills necessary to be successful in a rapidly changing world.”

Personally, my views on students supports sits somewhere in the middle. I believe that the Inquiry approach to teaching is the most effective way for students to develop an understanding of themselves and the world around them.  Throughout my school year, I move through the ‘pool’ as Trevor Mackenzie notes in his book, Dive into Inquiry. At the beginning of the year, the whole class is engaging in the same inquiry together as we develop our questioning strategies, nonfiction reading skills, research skills, and persistence. Throughout the rest of the year, I often transition from controlled inquiry into guided inquiry. There have been very few instances where I have been able to fully let go in my grade 2/3 classroom. However, I am hoping to make this more of a focus as I transition into an intermediate classroom next year.

I believe that in order to build students success, educators needs to scaffold the learning experiences in order for students to develop the skills in order to be an independent learner. Reference the Zone of Proximal Development below.

The transition in education from traditional teaching strategies to Inquiry and Problem Based Learning experiences (PBL) was exciting and quick. However, I think it was done without much thought of students current education experiences as well as developmental abilities. As mentioned in our class discussion, high school students especially, are struggling with open ended teaching and learning.

Are students just lazy?

No. I believe that students are products of what they have been surrounded with. I think that in elementary school, educators are lucky because we have such a great opportunity to take advantage of our young students inherent curious nature to explore the world around them. Therefore, we should be using this time to scaffolding students learning process in order to transition into more difficult problems and concepts in the higher grades. It is unfair for educators to teach young students in the traditional way and then be expected to learn for themselves in a secondary setting. We need to provide students with the skills and strategies for success.

“Although unguided or minimally guided instructional approaches are very popular and intuitively appealing, the point is made that these approaches ignore both the structures that constitute human cognitive architecture and evidence from empirical studies over the past half-century that consistently indicate that minimally guided instruction is less effective and less efficient than instructional approaches that place a strong emphasis on guidance of the student learning process” (Kirshner, Sweller, & Clark, 2010).

If students are only wanting to do the minimum of what is expected, I think that is sign to us educators that they have not yet developed the appropriate neural pathways, they are used to low expectations of others, or they are not engaged with the learning that is happening.

How can students show their learning in different ways if they have not been taught it?



I believe that this is my job as an elementary school teacher – to expose students to exploring and experimenting with a variety of different ways to learn and share their learning with others. Therefore, as students get older, they can experiment with different ways to show their learning because they already know how to do the ground work.

Do grades feed into this?


As mentioned in the video above, the focus on grades for students pits kids against each other which creates a competitive environment instead of a collaborative one. I think the hyper-focus on grades, especially in the upper grades, gives students a way to compare themselves and develop a sense of self-identity that rides solely on their perceived abilities which is extremely detrimental as they get older.

In B.C. we are lucky to have a new sense of flexibility that comes along with the redesigned curriculum. The curriculum focuses more on the development of core and curricular competencies as life skills instead of the regurgitation of content. Because of the focus on skills and competencies, there is a need for a ‘continuum for growth and development’ as our School District calls it. So we are transitioning from a focus on grades and percentages to growth and development of a particular skill. We are definitely moving in the right direction, but it is going to take a while for students, but particularly, parents to be on board with this approach.

Transition from high school to higher education using an open model?

Parents continued focus on grades, I believe, is two-fold. They are used to the way things were when they were going to school (local, nationally, or internationally) and they are concerned about how the indicators on the growth continuum will translate into acceptance into a post secondary institution.

The first issue I think will just take patience and time. As educators continue on this journey of focusing on the competencies and clearly communicating the importance and the benefits of doing so, I think parents will come around.

In regards to the second issue, that is a systems concern. But some Post Secondary institutions are following the elementary and secondary school approach and altering their admission qualifications (see SFU’s here).

Something else to add – During a discussion with a secondary principal at the UBC Short Course this weekend, he had mentioned this his School District in Prince George have started to change the language between elementary and secondary schools to align  the approaches in the new curriculum to the types of learning that is going on at each site and each grade. He believes that the language of elementary, secondary, and post-secondary is not inclusive. Therefore, his district has moved to using the word foundational studies (Grades K-10) and graduate studies (Grades 11+). I thought this was a very interesting approach and something I would like to consider for my own site.

Research Methodologies

As defined by the Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries:

Research: a careful study of a subject, especially in order to discover new facts or information about it

Methodology: a set of methods and principles used to perform a particular activity

Therefore, Research Methodology is the careful study of the methods and principles used to do research.

(An excerpt from https://heidid.opened.ca/2019/07/05/mixing-the-methods-of-research-methodology/?unapproved=1&moderation-hash=2182d3af58c5c89812e71fea2a66dc89#comment-1)

As I reflect on my own personal learning experience and teaching approach, I realize that I have a very limited view of different types of research (methodologies) and how the use of a variety of methods ensure for deeper learning for myself and my students.

In my classroom, when my students participate in research based activities, I often have them go through the same process. We move through the Inquiry method and I scaffold by everyone participating in a class Inquiry and developing research skills and strategies before moving into a more guided or independent Inquiry (similar to Trevor Mackenzie’s types of student inquiry approach). The research categories and options are often scripted by me, to limit student’s confusion and support and meet them where they are developmentally.

However, reflecting on that practice after our class readings and conversations from EDCI 515, I am embarrassed to realize that is not enough.

Research Diaries

As I read ‘Research Diary: A Tool for Scaffolding’ by Marion Engin, I understood the intentional use of ‘diary’ in this approach. I have used Inquiry Journals in the past, however, they were quite prescribed on what was included and what was written in them – which serves a purpose sometimes. However, there is also the need, as learners, for a space to share thoughts, ideas, missteps, and questionings in order to improve personal performance and document the learning process. According to Engin,

“Diary writing is seen as an opportunity for reflection and inner dialogue. The articulation of thoughts becomes the catalyst for change in beliefs and practice, thus the narrative inquiry of diary writing is a tool which mediates teachers’ professional development.”

As classroom teachers, we often get wrapped up in quantitative data and forget to put strategic supports in place for students to move through and understand the process of learning – making their learning visible.

At the end of this past year, I planned a year-long Inquiry unit with my colleagues on the history of Canada. We were hoping to use Inquiry Journals in order for students to reflect on their process and answer questions for us to follow up with. However, I would also like to introduce the use of Research Diaries for my students. I would love for it to be something that students could carry with them through out the year and use it to help propel their learning. I think it could be extremely meaningful for the students, as it is something that is individual and not being used for marks, but as a visual example of their learning process. It could also be a great artifact for students to share with their families during Student-Led conferences in the Spring.

The video below describes some different reasons why the use of Research Diaries are helpful for post graduate studies.

Based on our EDCI 515 class discussion this week, here are some things that could be included and reflected on in Research Diaries in order to make it effective and progress the learning and development – whoever it is that is using them.

  • Data (observations)
    • Additional found items (photographs, letters, etc.)
    • Contextual information
    • Reflections  on research methods (ideas and plans for subsequent research)
  • Theoretical Ideas
    • Clarifying a concept or idea
    • Making connections
    • Connecting your experiences
    • Formulating a new hypothesis
    • Realising the process
  • Method/Logical Notes
    • Circumstances
    • Biases?
    • What role did I play in the situation under investigation?
    • Comments arise from my experience
    • What decisions did I make about the future course of my research, and why?
    • What conflicts and ethical dilemmas did I encounter and how did I deal with them?


According to our EDCI 515 reading this week,

Autoethnography is an approach to research and writing that seeks to describe and systematically analyze (graphy) personal experience (auto) in order to understand cultural experience (ethno) (ELLIS, 2004; HOLMAN JONES, 2005).

Similar to my classmate, Benjamin Hood’s perspective mentioned in his recent blog, I “also I learn more when I can make a connections to something in the real world such as a story, an experience, or an event.” Traditional research methods are often focused on hard facts and quantitative data. However, this approach “acknowledges and accommodates subjectivity, emotionality, and the researchers influence on research, rather than hiding from these matters or assuming they don’t exist” (C. Ellis, T.  E. Adams & A. P. Bochner, 2011).

When researching authoethnography examples, I found Sarah Wall’s paper which explores international adoption through the lens of her own experiences. She notes in her abstracts that “this form of scholarship highlights more than ever issues of representation, “objectivity,” data quality, legitimacy, and ethics. Although working through these challenges can lead to the production of an excellent text, the intimate and personal nature of autoethnography can, in fact, make it one of the most challenging qualitative approaches to attempt” (Wall, 2008).

If I apply this understanding to my own teaching context. I will probably not be having students write their own authoethonography paper, but I think some of the data collection strategies such as taking field notes, listening to stories, noting feelings of themselves and others, collecting artifacts, interviews, and questions are important practices to introduce to students. From there, the important 21st century learning skills that can be practiced are perspective taking, adding their own perspective, understanding biases and context.  Prompting students to do additional research about the authors of the information that they found, what other researchers in the field were exploring at the time, and what was the historical and cultural climate at that time. That information could have a profound affect on the interpretation of the information being provided in the article.

Reflection on my own teaching and learning – The 4 R’s

Before – I would say that my role as a researcher was to explore new teaching strategies and techniques and my efficacy as an educator. I would gather information of my own teaching from assessments of students (anecdotal notes, tests, check ins, etc.) and the data would be shared with the students and their parents at scheduled reporting times.

Students responsibility in my classroom was to research concepts using resources that were given to them (for the most part). And the goal of this data collection was not personal, but to provide to the teacher a submission of their understanding. And often,  information was shared with peers during the exploration process.

After – I now understand that my role as the teacher is to guide and support students in their learning. Together, we explore a variety of research strategies to develop an understanding of each other, ourselves, cultural context, where we are, and the world around us in order to develop strong, respectful, and flexible lifelong learners.

I am looking forward to implementing concepts and strategies learned in these courses, into the teaching and learning that is going on in my classroom.

Considering Privacy Online

Do you even know what the privacy guidelines are for teachers? I can tell you I didn’t! I didn’t even know there were documents for us to reference in order to be safe and respectful representatives for our profession as educators.

The era of social media seems to be inescapable. We now have profiles on a multitude of platforms are and are often sharing and constantly in communication with others. However, have you ever stopped to think before posting an Instagram story, Snapchat  video, or Facebook post?

As my EDCI 568 professor shared with us, “once you move into the role of a public school teacher or within any public body, you must adhere to the laws set out by the B.C. Office of Information and Privacy Commissioner for public bodies (private organizations have a different set of rules). Their office has put together guidelines for you to follow to better understand what the rules are and how to get consent.” BC Cloud Computing Guidelines (PDF). And you can review the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act here.

When we are using educational platforms, technology, and communication tools, we need to ensure we are abiding by the rules and regulations of our profession in order to protect the little people that we work with and their families. It does not mean that we stop engaging online or outside of Canada. It means that we need to be knowledgable and get the proper consent. Some districts have their own expectations and safety considerations. You can see an example of how school district are addressing access to cloud tools outside of Canada here (Coquitlam) and here plus here (Victoria).

It is important to also review section 4(b) of the B.C. Digital Literacy Framework. The whole document is good to review as a refresher of what we need to be teaching and exposing our students to.

Additional resources can be found here:

Privacy Education for Kids by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada

Information Security Awareness by the BC Government

MediaSmarts: Canada’s Centre for Digital and Media Literacy

Some competencies for you to explore and ask if you need help:

  • Is aware of the OIPC, FIPPA, and the Cloud Computing Guidelines and follows them
  • Understands what constitutes personal information
  • Understands that privacy online is a personal choice and must be respected
  • Understands that, as a preservice teacher or inservice teacher in the schools, that you assume a “public body” hat and have a duty of care for your learners, their parents and families, and your colleagues with regard to their privacy and protection of personal information
  • Is aware that the Canadian federal government states that the chances are remote that the US Patriot Act will access personal information of Canadians, but recognizes that it is our responsibility to protect privacy preferences and to ensure that consent obtained is informed consent. Some families may be involved with restraining orders and need to be private for their safety, but the reasons for privacy may be preference. Either way, it is not our business as to the reasons for privacy preferences, but it is our responsibility to uphold preferences.
  • Understands how media moves through networks into US cloud-based services (e.g., back-ups on iTunes, syncing with Dropbox, messages with personal information sent on Gmail, blog RSS subscriptions, etc.)
  • Understands that these acts do not prohibit participation in networked tools outside of Canada and many school districts are in need of teachers who model networked literacy and positive citizenship online for their learners
  • Is familiar with section 4(b) of the BC Digital Literacy Framework and is prepared to integrate it in teaching and learning
  • Understands what appropriate consent looks like for public bodies and is aware of what alternative steps are to support learners when consent is not obtained.

In addition,  I learned this week, that public expectation of administrators increases ten-fold. The importance of organizational leadership is paramount. As administrators, we need to not only comply with the FIPPA standards and the Digital Literacy Framework,  but think about the perception of our online profiles. We are now representatives of our school boards and therefore, need to exemplify respect, equity, inclusion, and a standard of excellence. Therefore, in the next few weeks I will be reflecting on my own online portfolio and ensure that I am aligned with those expectations.

Developing a vision for Educational Technology

In my school context, I have taken on the role of technology support person for the staff and students in the building. My primary role is to ensure that all the technology is up to date, apps that teachers want are input onto devices, and providing classrooms and students with equitable access to technology. In addition, this past year I attempted to support my staff with implementing technologies to enhance their teaching and learning. I was lucky enough to have been gifted time to go into classrooms to suppor.t However, unfortunately, not many people took me up. Looking back, I realized I did not have a vision and a plan for implementation, exploration, and support. As I transition into this new administration role this year, I reflect on how to be a Lead Learner in the school and not only support teachers in learning and implementation, but also to model exploration and vulnerability of myself.

I have spent the last five days out on the UBC campus in Vancouver at the BCPVPA Administrators Short Course. We have had the amazing opportunity to listen to a variety of thoughtful, intelligent, and courageous leaders in educational leadership and one of the main ideas that have been shared is the idea of being a Lead Learner.

As I reflect on that and how I can implement that idea into my school, I think about the importance of having a vision. When the ISTE standards were included in our EDCI 568 course readings for the week, I had never seen or even heard of them before! ISTE stands for the International Society for Technology in Education and there are standards on the site for students, educators, and administrators. See the Standards for each group below. Click on each image for more detailed information about the standards.


The revised BC curriculum has allowed for so much more flexibility, freedom, and exploration of the use of technology into our teaching. And I know that teachers are starting to use different tools to help support their teaching, however, I think we can be so much more intentional with our implementation and use. Teachers are using apps and platforms that they are comfortable with, which is great, but I think for the sake of our learners, we need to be brave and try to improve our practice with the incorporation of new ways of thinking, access to international audiences, and developing problem solving strategies. As we know, the world around us is always changing and we need to make sure our learners are experienced, educated, and safe users of technology.

Michelle Haiken is a veteran middle school English teacher in New York and recently published a book titled “New Realms for Writing: Inspire Student Expression with Digital Age Formats.” She provides experiences for her students where they can expand ways in which they can produce written work, help her get to know them better by providing options, giving them opportunities to amplify her students voices, and giving access to a variety of formats and audiences. Some examples she shares in in the book, shared in an article written by Benjamin Herold are:

  1. Mixing poetry and coding – using tools such as Makey Makers, Scratch, audio recording software, and other digital tools to create interactive presentations of the poems they chose.
  2. Working across disciplines and giving students choice – after research of their own independent inquiries, students showcased their work in either a traditional text-based annotated bibliography or a visual infographic. In addition, students shared their conclusions in a podcast, video recorded TEDtalk, or traditionla narrative nonfiction essay.
  3. Murder Mystery with a twist – as she read an Agatha Christie murder mystery, students were given the task of choosing a character, identifying a theme song that fit the character, and produce a quick music video tying the two together.

When reading these types of examples, I get extremely excited, however I go back to teacher workload. There are so many great initiatives and great things that we need to be infusing into our teaching (e.g. Indigenous education, SEL, Self-Regulation, Mental Health, new approaches to teaching Math, PBL, Inquiry, and the list goes on) and I want to make sure my teachers are feeling that there is the space to explore and be innovative, but being cautious of burnout. As an teacher leader, I think about how I can support my staff and students in the building. Some ideas that are rattling around my head on this topic are:

  • Reviewing ISTE standards and see how we are doing as a school with them
  • Developing a technology agreement (statt AND students) with our common understandings about how we use and care for technology, as well as what we are already doing/using in the building and who feels comfortable with those platforms and where we see ourselves moving next
  • Trying out some new things in my classroom and with my collaborative team (and showcasing at staff meetings and professional development)
  • Providing support sessions for staff (for FreshGrade, robots, coding, ADST curriculum implementation, etc.)

I am so inspired and excited by this course as it is already giving me things to think about and implement into my own teaching and leading.

Copyright and Copyleft

During our EDCI 568 class conversation on Thursday, the topic of copyright came up.

During my formal post secondary schooling as well as classroom teaching and professional development, I thought I knew about copyright. I thought I understood the concept and how to effectively teach my students and things to be aware of.

Boy was I wrong.

When I am working with my students and they are starting to explore the online world through research, I make sure we are having conversations about reliable sources, talking about intellectual property, and the importance of taking notes and rewriting in your own words in order to avoid copyright infringement. However, one thing that Dr. Irving shared with us is a site called Creative Commons. This site allows you to search images where their owners have definite ownership and have given permission to share. Included on the site when you search a photo is also how you can site the image in order to give recognition to the owner.

How to attribute CC materials

This is definitely something that I am going to include in my future teachings, as well as having the conversation about ownership of their own work, ideas, and content online.

Some interesting tools to use as well are Fair Dealing (Canada) or Fair Use (USA). They are not Creative Commons but exceptions for use of copyrighted material. See:


Follow @Lessig and @creativecommons on Twitter to learn more

Classroom Design – Places and Spaces for Learning


Come take a virtual peek into my classroom for the year!

This is actually the second year I have been in my classroom but I moved some major furniture around this summer to make the space more functional and useful for myself and the students. Here are a few things that I like to keep in mind when I am putting together my classroom:

1. Neutral colours. From my own experience I have found that the use of neutral colours and shades keep a room feeling calm. At this age, children already have a hard time focusing on one things for a period of time, so I try and limit possible other distractions as well.

2. Bare walls. As I noted above, I try and limit as many distractions as I can for my students. Having lots of colours, words, pictures, and papers starts making me feel cluttered and overwhelmed so I can only imagine what it does for the kids!

As you can see above, I have a few of my boards set up and are awaiting student work. I try and only put up work and reference material that we are currently working on. Then I transition things off and on as the year progresses. For the most part it is student driven; the students suggest tricky words from our units to put up on our ABC wall, we write up our wonderings on our wonder wall for every unit, we put up artifacts and resources from our units up on our inquiry board, and we use visuals for students to reference for reading strategies in the Reading C.A.F.E.

3. Separated spaces. I am really lucky that this classroom is quite bright and open. Seeing as my students are still pretty small, I try and create separated spaces in the classroom. You can see from my photos that I have tried to create a nook for reading with a reading tent and two shelves in between to make it feel more cozy. This is often where students go when they want to read without distraction of others, work independently or with a partner, and if they need a space to reflect and calm their bodies. I have also kept my subject specific manipulatives together. For example, I have a shelf that is all for math, I also have a explorations shelf, literacy manipulatives shelf, writing space, and a reading space within the classroom.

4. Flexible seating. Each student in my class has their own desk. However, I do not like students spending too much time in one space throughout the day. Therefore, I provide a wide range of flexible seating options around the class for students to take advantage of. I have some stools at a high table, I have pillows and logs beside my low table, I have lap-desks for my students to work on the floor, I have a circle table which works well for small group support, and I have some yoga ball chairs which have been a big hit this year!

5. Alternative light sources. I find the fluorescent lights in the classrooms extremely harsh and distracting. When I can, I try and provide some alternative light sources around the classroom (which is a bit tricky finding plugs in convenient place when your school was build in 1913). This year I have twinkly lights in the tent, a salt lamp near the self-regulation tools, and a small lamp on the small writing table. I try and leave the lights off during the day whenever possible, although that gets difficult in the summer. On those darker days I often just turn one set of lights on. I don’t think I can remember the last time I had all three sets of lights on in my classroom…

I hope some of these tips and photo was able to provide some inspiration or food for thought for your own classroom! Please let me know if you have any questions!

Miss Miller

Book Review


This book has been on the top of my reading list for a few months now. Ever since I heard that Rebecca Bathurst-Hunt had a hand in contributing to this book I knew I had to take a look! I know Rebecca through a friend and we did a Personalized Learning Institute Program together in 2015.  She is a Kindergarten teacher in Victoria who is extremely active on social media. I often scroll through her Twitter and Instagram accounts to get inspiration for my own classroom. She does everything from free inquiry, raising and releasing salmon, to mindfulness and meditation with five and six year olds!

Even though I have previous experience with inquiry, I found this book well laid out, straightforward, and is full of small things teachers can do in the classroom to develop a culture of wonder and inquiry. I did two of my practicums in IB schools as well as am a Level 1 trained IB teacher. I think this book is great for people that are anywhere on the spectrum of inquiry within their classrooms. I would love to introduce it to some of my colleagues as it provides a framework of how to set up authentic inquiry and some resources to support (spaces, places, technology, visible thinking strategies, etc.).
In this day in age, skills developed in an inquiry-based classroom are becoming more and more valuable. Skills such as questioning, critical and creative thinking, researching, and connecting to the community are what we are wanting to develop in children in order for them to be successful in their future.

Below are some ideas that I am going to try and integrate into my own practice and classroom this year!

  • Posting a question grid or question/wonder prompts in order to give students a starting point
  • Create a provocation space where students can interact with materials connected to our unit(s)
  • Rolling cart with loose parts and materials in order to create a mobile Makerspace for the School
    • With some inspirational books for students and teachers
    • Also have a ring of cue cards with visuals and/or challenges for students using the different materials
  • When planning my inquiry units – think more critically about how I can move from structured to free inquiry throughout the year (provide my students, especially the ones in grade three with more independent learning and researching skills)
    • Post the visual of the different types of student inquiry on our inquiry board
  • Using morning tubs for the first 20 minutes of the mornings instead of morning activity worksheets (give students the opportunity to create and communicate first thing in the morning and a good start to the day)
  • Working with the Librarian to possibly create a Wonder Wall in the Library
    • Can help support inquiry from the class but also can be a place where questions can guide what type of story or activity the librarian introduces to the students
    • “The design of our library spaces impacts how our learners interact with one another as well as with the resources and experiences in the space….Add a provocation table, a poetry center, a Wonder Wall, and flexible furniture as well as visual cues, sentence stems, and supports to guide learners in how the spaces can be used…the Library should be the hub of student-led interests and passions in the school.” (pg. 118)
  • Somehow combine classroom communication and social media (FreshGrade, Professional Blog, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, etc.)

I look forward to this upcoming school year and seeing how these ideas transform the learning community at my school!

I will ensure to update how it is going in the classroom this year! 🙂

Miss Miller

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