Ed. etc.

Category: Course discussions

Coding for classrooms: Scratch

I have been exploring Rich McCue‘s resources on coding and reading my classmates blog posts on different ways coding can be integrated into the classroom. Rich believes that coding should be something that is possible to teach in subjects in addition to just math and science. My favourite resource I came across was Scratch, a website for beginner coders that is extremely user-friendly and accessible. There is minimal text on the screen and the different commands are colour-coded and shaped as blocks that fit together. It is aimed towards younger learners, however as an absolute amateur at coding this resource appealed to me the most. Scratch allows learners to create short animations, stories, and games relatively easily and introduces them to the idea of coding.

While before I was introduced to these resources I would never imagine, as an English and French pre-service teacher I would ever use coding in my classroom, but I can see myself easily using Scratch particularly in either of my teachable subjects. Coding is an incredibly relevant and useful skill that I think can be expanded from technology classrooms to beyond.

Augmented and Virtual Reality


Rich McCue did a presentation in our Education Technology class today on augmented and virtual reality. He explained the use of the Aris app in Kitsilano High School, a project that they did connecting current students to past students in 1944 in the midst of World War II. He made a point of how students could set up something similar as a project for many different classes, rather than a teacher setting it up like they did in this case.

There are so many ways augmented and virtual reality can be used in education, but Rich pointed out particularly that for reconciliation it could be an amazing resource that also links deeply with place-based learning. As I am passionate about doing my part in reconciliation, this idea really appealed to me.

Today I also had the opportunity to try virtual reality for the first time. It was an amazing experience, and it got me thinking how it can be applied to education. Exploring Google Earth in virtual reality I could see particularly relevant to French language learning, which is one of my teachable subjects.

There are a few cons to augmented and virtual reality, including that it is not recommended to children under 13, how expensive putting it into practice is, and how for virtual reality goggles it would often be only one student actively participating at a time.

I am interested to continue learning about how virtual and augmented reality can be implemented in different types of classrooms.

Video Conferencing/Multi-Access Learning

man standing in front of people sitting beside table with laptop computers

Should we allow flexibility in modality accessibility? What are the implications within a classroom context? How is this a human rights and a social justice issue? These are all questions that we discussed in EdTech on Friday.

I think that sometimes, as teachers, we can get locked into our own preferences and biases. The binary that exists in high school and most universities is courses are either taught face-to-face, or online. In online learning, there is not usually a set time and dates for the class and the professor to meet online, even though the resources to have “face-to-face” learning online very much exist, and are actually becoming more accessible and affordable. Students have to self-regulate, deciding what times they are going to go online to do coursework, so their self-accountability is huge.

Another method includes blended learning: a mix of face-to-face time and online learning. There are benefits to this method, but the learning is not increased in this scenario. It does not meet mobility needs.

Multi-access learning is seemingly the best solution. It includes video-conferencing, face-to-face, and online learning. It is inclusive rather than exclusive because everyone’s preferred method is addressed.

There are so many different needs that learners have, including many different physical and mental health needs that some learning styles obstruct. Using multi-access learning can help learners that are normally barred from traditional classroom settings learn like the rest of their community.

Minecraft in the Classroom: EdTech Presentation

Yesterday in class we had the privilege of having a Grade 7 teacher from Colquitz Middle School and some of her former students come in to our EdTech class to teach us about the advantages of Minecraft in the classroom and how to use it!

As I have been exploring Minecraft in education for my EdTech inquiry project, this class was very valuable for me. The teacher explained how much success she had found ever since she incorporated Minecraft in her classroom and shared so many different ways to use it.

The students were so knowledgable about Minecraft, and we had so much fun learning from them, flipped-classroom style. The room was so loud as all of us struggled to figure out the game and our “teachers” running around to help us as much as they could. They were absolutely the experts in that room yesterday, and they seemed to feel so empowered by having the knowledge and the opportunity to share it. One of my classmates joked to me that they were more comfortable and confident up in front of a class than we were as pre-service teachers, but it was actually true. The experience definitely brought home the message that learning from my students happens more often than I may have previously thought and how valuable that can be to a classroom.

Here is a screenshot of a castle one of my classmates made in the minutes it took me to figure out how to place a block, showing me how much I still have to learn in the world of Minecraft.

EdCamp: Bottom-Up Learning

Today in EdTech we had a mini edcamp/unconference. We were able to write down on post-its some topics we felt we wanted to talk to or to learn about in a small group setting, then we narrowed it down to three main mini conferences that we could choose to attend.

man standing in front of group of men

I chose to join a group that wanted to talk about our favourite teachers and why they were our favourites. I liked that I was able to choose the topic I was most interested in instead of sitting in on something that I wasn’t as engaged with. We had a great conversation, everyone was engaged and contributed a lot because we were talking about something we were passionate about. The more casual, small group, conversational setting I think really lends itself to people feeling more comfortable to share their opinions and experiences. We were able to hear each others perspectives and have deeper debates than sometimes is possible in a lecture setting.

Pacific School of Innovation and Inquiry

This Friday, I had the opportunity to explore the Pacific School of Innovation and Inquiry. Jeff Hopkins, the founder of the school took the time to talk to us and explain the concept of the school and how it looks on a day to day basis.

Up until this visit, I understood what inquiry-based learning was but wasn’t completely convinced of how it could be more beneficial to learners than any other method of instruction or learning. Jeff explained how the learning at PSII is completely individual: the students decide what they are interested in learning and have the agency to pace this learning however they would like. Using monitoring services such as Trello, the teachers are able to keep track of each students inquiries very easily. Students who wish to work on one subject all day are able to do so at PSII, instead of being interrupted by bells and refocused into different subjects in 60-minute blocks. There are teachers constantly circulating, so the students are able to get help when they need it.

One aspect I was surprised by was the amount of activity and conversation among the students when I walked in. I expected almost a silent work environment, with each student staring at a screen. Part of the reason why I was hesitant about the school’s philosophy was that I thought students were missing out on this social aspect. However, I was glad to see that this was not the case. Although the students learning is individualized, they are not sequestered and alone in their learning environment. There are opportunities around the school for students that would like to work alone silently, but the main area of the school looked like a lively group of kids working and socializing together. Jeff also explained to us that they strive to facilitate events and activities that involve the whole school, such as group hikes, in order to further establish their school community.

Overall, I was extremely impressed by Jeff Hopkins presentation. He has such a passion for allowing learners to reach their fullest potential, and I commend him for the amazing job he has done setting up PSII. I encourage everyone to explore PSII‘s philosophy and to look into the benefits of inquiry-based learning.

Jesse Miller: Privacy and Digital Identity as Educators

Today in EdTech, we had the privilege of having Jesse Miller come to speak to us about privacy and professional responsibility as an educator.

I was so interested in the parts of the presentation that focused on our digital identity and how it intersects with our professional identity as educators. While I thought I was pretty well-versed in internet safety, Miller gave us a new perspective on how we need to think about everything that we are putting online. It seems clichéd, but I had not thought before about how much more students are going to be online and how much more eager they are now to catch us out as educators doing something they consider inappropriate online. When I was a high school student, we would try to find out teachers on Facebook and laugh when we found them and could see their profile pictures, but it stopped there. Now there are a myriad of different platforms that we as teachers are on and can therefore be surveyed by students. 

In addition, I enjoyed the Miller’s discussion of our three audiences: public/parents, staff, and students. Of course, I wouldn’t be one of those teachers we looked at that hashtagged #teacherproblems, but things such as informing the school if you are sharing your cell phone number during a field trip with students are things that I would have not had considered before as something innocent that could be perceived as problematic without it being disclosed. 

Although using technology as a teacher considering privacy and ethos of care can be daunting, I now feel more confident that there are ways to use social media and technology as an educator, as long as we are aware of school expectations and policies of the employer, when and how you should disclose things.


Most Likely to Succeed

In class on Friday, we discussed Greg Whiteley and Ted Dintersmith’s film, Most Likely to Succeed. I found it really interesting that some people said that they had the same feelings as the parents of students at High Tech High about how this new type of schooling might affect the students futures as they enter the world structured around traditional schooling. I had not thought of this perspective as I watched the film, being so enamoured with High Tech High’s near-revolutionary approach to learning. As we discussed in class, I would be very interested as well to see a “Part 2” that might provide us with some insight on the long term effects of the High Tech pedagogy. 

In addition to the focus on High Tech High, I enjoyed the beginning of the documentary where it outlined the absolute urgent need for a change in our educational system. Things such as the subjects that we choose to study that we never really question were actually established more than a hundred years ago, in a completely different world than we live in now. In the possibly near future, every job that does not require human creativity or critical thinking will disappear. Of course, we have known this for a while, but I had not yet thought about this fact from the perspective of an educator. I will have to take this into account as I think about my approach to teaching, adhering to the curriculum but also having an eye on the future and how I can best set up my learners for success.


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