Using Tech for Inclusion

As part of the Fifth Grade students’ last year in PYP, they have been working on their Exhibition of Mastery projects for the past six weeks. I have been amazed at the effort and dedication they have shown in preparing their displays and presentations and I was excited to see the final projects last Friday. Teachers from throughout the school have been involved in mentoring students, providing everything from moral support and encouragement to resources and examples that the students could build off. This is the first year that my school put together a full Exhibition of Mastery and it has been an exciting time for the students.

Ready to go

Using prerecorded audio

Throughout the time I have been working on COETAIL, I have also been taking the LEAD Inclusion courses with Dr. Lee Ann Jung. I wholeheartedly recommend this course if you are working to building an inclusive learning environment for all students.  The reason why I mention this is that both COETAIL and LEAD Inclusion have really inspired me to take new approaches in order to ensure that all students have been able to participate and access the resources they have needed.

One of the students with whom I work has been diagnosed with an intellectual disability. Their disability can make it difficult for them to present all of their ideas sequentially and their thoughts can sometimes become jumbled and come out in the “wrong” order. In order to help this student demonstrate their learning, I worked with them to create a podcast. They wrote the script, decided which information they wanted to include, and then we set about recording the ideas.

After the audio was recorded, the student choose images they felt would enhance their video. We reviewed the importance of remembering the rights of the creator and I bored them all, once again, with my epic tale of betrayal at the hands of a friend who “stole” my photograph. See my post Copyrights and Wrongs posted a year ago pretty much to the day for a more detailed explanation. When we watched the student’s finished video, they were proud of themselves and their creation. It took a lot of time and audio edits, but I’m excited that they feel empowered by this.

Photo by Inbetween Architects on Unsplash

Using visuals

I was also able to teach some of what I learned from course 3 regarding PowerPoint. One of my students wanted to create a PowerPoint that showed all of her research and she had reams of text on each slide. She knew what she wanted to say, but as she presented, she read from the slides. To help her, I showed her excerpts from the first five minutes of How to Avoid Death by PowerPoint.

Following this, I showed her the example sides from What is good Presentation design? (Presentation Zen) and we discussed what made the slides more effective. The final result was a PowerPoint full of visuals that she was able to talk about while facing her audience.


A decision made

For my final COETAIL project I chose to focus on what I consider to be one of the greatest challenges my students face: reading as part of their home learning routine. For the majority of students I work with, reading is challenging and so often, by their own admission, students avoid reading at home. I hope to address this by providing students with a purpose for practicing reading. I have prompted students to record themselves reading aloud to create videos to share with younger students as part of my school’s “Bedtime Stories” program. Bedtime stories are read alouds by adults in our community for students to listen to at home and this will be the first time we have some created and shared by students.  In the interests of confidentiality, I won’t be including students’ names or photos of their faces in this project, however, I hope to include video/ audio samples as well as student feedback and reflections.

Photo by Janko Ferlič on

I began this project by simply asking my students how often they read in English in order to get an idea of the groups I should be targeting.

Graph to show minutes read per week

When first discussing their reading habits, most of my students began by assuring me that they read for X number of minutes per night as outlined by their homeroom teacher.  This is with the exception of one fourth-grader who, and I respect his honesty, told me that he added the total time required for the week and read for that long on Monday so that he didn’t have to read for the rest of the week. Once I reassured each student that I wouldn’t be discussing their answers with their teachers they started opening up more and being more honest about the time they spent reading. When I asked about the reasons they avoided reading, there were a few trends. Time was a contributing factor for many, as too was homework in Chinese, however, the most telling response was from a student who told me that reading isn’t fun for her. Elaborating, she admitted that reading for her is tiring and frustrating; she would rather be doing things she enjoyed doing instead. Fair enough.

I have ended up with a shortlist of 11 students. Four grade two students, four grade three students, and three grade four students. The majority of these students read between 20 – 30 minutes per week at the moment. I would love to see that time change to 20 – 30 minutes every day. I am excited to see if this project can help to develop this group of students’ reading habits and make reading more appealing.

Photo by Laura Kapfer on unsplash

My Concern

I worry that I am too fixated on just having the students build fluency. I hope to inspire them to include reading as part of their daily routines, however, what if all I am doing is having them read words without comprehension. I can read Korean *cue slightly sarcastic woo* but just because I can sound out the characters doesn’t mean I actually understand the words. Does this mean that my scope is too narrow or is it better to target one area of reading?

This article  does a great job of explaining the different facets of reading fluency and how they contribute to developing a reader’s ability. Through developing a struggling reader’s automatic processing, they can start to expand more energy on making sense of what they are reading. In our classes, I am working to develop and introduce strategies for students to use across all areas of literacy, so I feel as though targeting one area may be okay. I also keep coming back to the overall goal. Providing students with something that is fun and motivating in order to develop reading habits.

Final thoughts

I am going to start by selecting a range of texts for students to choose from for their first reads, but then I would quite like them to start choosing their own books. This may be a hard process though, so if you have any suggestions of books that you enjoy reading aloud or remember enjoying having them read aloud to you, please feel free to suggest them!






End of Course 4

The Sitch

filled white coffee cup
Photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash

The majority of students I work with admit that they are not currently reading at home as they find it difficult and frustrating. My hope is that this project will provide them with a purpose for daily independent reading practice that can be monitored and measured. I will work with six students from grades 2, 4, and 5 for this project.


The First Plan


How does this project reflect your learning during COETAIL? How might this unit be different from or similar to other units you have designed/facilitated?


My first idea for a unit really builds off the project that Shalene, Julija, and I worked on during course 3, experiences over this semester, and some feedback from students during distance learning. My struggling readers have always enjoyed the opportunity to read stories aloud to younger students. The lexile level tends to be closer to their independent reading level and they are able to build confidence in their ability to read aloud while developing fluency comprehension skills. The difference between this and my previous units is a greater emphasis on independent reading at home. By providing students with higher levels of technology use, I hope to also encourage daily reading practice and therefore support students’ progress towards their reading goals.



Describe the unit: What will your students be able to do? What will they understand? What skills will they build? What ISTE Standards for Students will you prioritize?


Throughout this 10 week unit, the students will be selecting books to read aloud in front of the camera with an intended audience of students in younger grade levels. The goal is for the students to read 5 books aloud in order to build reading fluency and comprehension skills as measured by DIBELS and Fountas & Pinnell assessments. I want to prioritize the Empowered Learner ISTE standards as students will be creating content and sharing it with the school community.


Why do you think this unit is a good possibility for your Course 5 project?


I think this is a good course 5 project as it helps tackle a big issue I am seeing with my students. Namely that they are avoiding reading when they are outside school. Reading aloud is frustrating and some students report that they do not see the purpose behind cultivating this skill. It will also provide an opportunity for both myself and homeroom teachers to monitor student progress and allow us to give feedback. I want to improve in aligning SSP and ILP goals with the classroom teacher’s goals to allow for greater transparency with how I am supporting students.


What evidence might you collect to support students in demonstrating their understandings?


Weekly reflections will be a big part of this. I want to make the reflections easy enough so that students will complete them, but also use this as a tool to hold students accountable. In order to monitor students’ comprehension, I plan on adapting the Wilson reading recount rubric.


What are some of your concerns about redesigning this unit?


My biggest concern is that students still try to avoid reading at home. I am struggling with how to ensure that they are held accountable in a way that is empowering. My larger goal is to instill a love of reading in each of my students, but I am worried that this could backfire. By increasing the expectation for independent reading, I am cautious not to inadvertently causing more stress or pressure around an already challenging task.

My other big concern is related to how students share their readings. Living in China means that I am limited in some of the programs I can use. My school’s technology policy restricts me from using any apps with students that require a VPN so that means no YouTube, Google Drive, or (frustratingly) Thinglink. I’m also unable to use Padlet or FlipGrid as they are currently unreliable in China. I am leaning towards students sharing content through SharePoint and using Handbrake to shrink video sizes.


What shifts in pedagogy might this new unit require from you?

This unit will require me to share more of what I am doing with classroom teachers, something that I really want to do. It will also provide me with an opportunity for getting back to new learning partnerships. I have found myself more in the role of a traditional teacher during class times and I want my students to feel as though they are doing more than being passive learners. I want to put them in charge of their progress towards their learning goals.

What skills and/or attitudes might this new unit require from your students?

The students will need to show grit throughout this 10 week unit. I would like to provide them with the opportunity to discuss difficulties and frustrations while simultaneously providing them with an opportunity to plan for their next steps.

The Second Sitch

person holding a book and pen
Photo by Lewis Keegan – on Unsplash

My second idea stemmed from working with a few students who are finding Maths frustrating. This unit would focus on fewer students. Four individuals in grades 4 and 5. These students are struggling to make progress towards their Maths goals as they do not know their multiplication facts and have found learning them frustrating. As a result, these students are becoming increasingly disengaged in Maths classes as they feel they are unable to do the work.

The Alternative Plan


Describe the unit: What will your students be able to do? What will they understand? What skills will they build? What ISTE Standards for Students will you prioritize?


This six-week unit will harness the concept of remixing and have students create Maths music videos for multiplication facts. They can have the freedom to choose from their favorite songs so that they can take ownership of their work. We would begin the unit by looking at examples that already exist online and then students would have the opportunity to write their own lyrics and produce their own videos in collaborative groups. The ISTE standards I would focus on for this unit would come from the Creative Communicator strand.



How does this project reflect your learning during COETAIL? How might this unit be different from or similar to other units you have designed/facilitated?


This idea really started to grow over course 4. From the very beginning, I had my first idea taking shape and I was excited about starting it. Then, I started thinking more about how I could use technology to support student’s learning in meaningful ways and I tried helping a fifth-grade student by having her create a video to walk herself through the process of two-digit division. This really helped her and she started to become more confident in herself. This opportunity to use technology at a higher level instead of just for information consumption really helped to jolt my thinking. It got me excited for other ways to integrate technology meaningfully and provide students with more deep learning opportunities.




Why do you think this unit is a good possibility for your Course 5 project?


I think this unit would be great for taking technology integration beyond simple substitution and augmentation. I also believe that it could help excite students about a subject that they are finding difficult and frustrating. The combination of integrating technology in a meaningful way through supporting student growth towards their goals is something that I feel excited and passionate about.


What evidence might you collect to support students in demonstrating their understandings?


The end goal would be for students to be able to apply their new-found knowledge of multiplication facts to solve maths problems with greater confidence and fluency. I think the use of personal reflections from students would be paramount to see if they felt a change in their attitudes towards Maths, as well as their own abilities. Just today, I had a student tell me that she felt “stupid” because she could not solve a fractions problem in the classroom. I think that having pre- and post-unit reflections from students would be vital evidence.


What are some of your concerns about redesigning this unit?


My biggest concern for this is that the end product might only prove to be valuable for the creator rather than for any audience. I am questioning whether this is necessarily a big issue or not and I am settled somewhere in the middle. My intention is to have these four students learn their multiplication facts in a meaningful way and then share them with each other and their classmates. This feels a lot smaller in scale to my other unit idea, however, and I am worried that the focus is too narrow. I am also thinking about the enduring understandings box on the UBD planner and I am unsure of what the enduring understandings are for this unit.


What shifts in pedagogy might this new unit require from you?


I think that one of the things that really came to the fore for me over course 4 is that I have found myself drifting away from incorporating technology in meaningful and authentic ways. This has definitely come with the change in my role this year and feeling as though my time with students is very limited. I also believe, however, that this unit can be integrated into students’ service hours.


What skills and/or attitudes might this new unit require from your students?


Video production skills will be a review for all of these students. They have all participated in filming and editing projects either in the classroom or as part of after school clubs. Choreography, lip-syncing, and a shift in attitude towards Maths classes will also be necessary.


How Deep is your Learning?

blue scissor near papers
Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

My first thought when it came to evaluating the effectiveness of new pedagogies was to create a student survey. As Paulo Freire said, “Teaching begins with students, not teachers.” As I mentioned previously, I arrived at my current school when the PYP was being introduced. This proved to be a challenging yet rewarding experience for both myself and my students. Just before the end of the year I sat down with a group of five students and asked them how they felt this year was different from the previous.  A couple of students mentioned that they enjoyed a greater emphasis on asking questions and, as the year progressed, a feeling that they could shape our units of inquiry. The thing they all agreed on was they enjoyed the opportunities for collaboration more than anything else. When students are happy they are more engaged and so I feel that this is a good starting point. I was curious how else I could measure the effectiveness of new pedagogies.

With each year I have worked at my current school, a new model for measuring student growth has been introduced. If I take writing as an example, my first year we had grade-level rubrics designed for assessing students, the following year teachers and students created rubrics, after that a skills rubric for writing was introduced, this year that rubric has been refined to correlate to the How Language Works training that teachers have taken this semester. I feel as though changes are nothing new to educators, however, without consistent rubrics, I do feel as though it’s difficult to measure the effectiveness year to year as to how writing has been taught. We are still working towards implementing assessments that are “comparable across different types of tasks, subjects, schools and systems,” just as Fullen mentions in chapter 5 of A Rich Seam.

One area I was interested in digging deeper about was the use of the Tripod survey as a tool for measuring student engagement. I feel as though surveys that are aligned with the 7 C’s framework could be a useful tool for measuring the effectiveness of new pedagogies and curricula as they are introduced to the school.

“Making assessment much more intrinsically formative is a starting place, as it would develop students’ capacity for incorporating feedback in ways that are much more like how performance is measured in non-school contexts.” – Fullen, Langworthy, A Rich Seam.

Much of the feedback I currently give to students is formative in order to guide them towards the ILP and SSP goals. I am currently using the Wilson reading intervention program with a few students who have been diagnosed with dyslexia. This program is highly explicit and involves a lot of questioning in order to help students solidify their understanding of the English language. I am currently in the process of preparing for the possibility of returning to distance learning at some point in the future. Looking back at how my department supported students before it seems as though the learning specialist helped individual students work through assignments set by classroom teachers. While I feel this would be highly important to ensure student engagement I am also wondering how reading intervention can be successfully integrated into an online-only program that is engaging and allows for the level of feedback that students need in order to make progress.


When I look at the 6 C’s of Deep Learning I feel as though I am doing a pretty good job of planning lessons that help build the competency of character. I try to build resilience in students by showing them how their hard work has resulted in their progress towards goals. Where I want to get to is to feel as though I am delivering lessons that consistently include all of the 6 Competencies for deep learning. I am hoping that through my COETAIL Course 5 project I will be able to do this and, just as importantly, that I will be able to assess this.

The Wrath of Khan Academy

The above video is the oldest memory I have of using a computer in school. It was on an old 8 bit BBC Microcomputer gathering dust in the back of our classroom featuring the newest 8-inch floppy disk drive. The game itself was a basic text adventure but at the time to my friends and I it was glorious, even if all I really remember doing is endlessly trying to use a rope to fix a broken bridge. Except for some nostalgia, however, it’s difficult to point out what, if anything, I got from this experience. I consumed 8-bit music and graphics in all the different ways the BBC Micro could throw at me but I didn’t actually create anything. Instead I learned some rudimentary keyboard skills and that certain trees may contain magic.

One thing that first surprised me when I first read chapter 4 of A Rich Seam was that, “up until now, technology use has had a below-average impact on learning relative to other interventions” (A Rich Seam: How New Pedagogies Find Deep Learning Fullen Langworthy.) In order to prepare for my basic skills exam while I was training to become a qualified teacher, I used Khan Academy to prepare for the maths component. I found it a useful tool, however, I can certainly see the limitations that come from repetitive practice. I’ve always been a little hesitant in recommending Khan Academy’s use for elementary students as Sal Khan often speaks very quickly in the videos and I felt that the feedback system could be more frustrating than helpful for younger students. NWEA scores can be plugged into Khan Academy to help drill students on their ‘weak’ areas in maths but, to me at least, there seems little opportunity for knowledge construction over consumption.

Alphabet, Communication, Emotion, English, Feeling

At the beginning of the school year, I started to re-learn Japanese. In order to support my learning, I ordered the basic package of Rosetta Stone Japanese. I already have a basic daily conversation level of language so I assumed I’d be able to pick things up fairly quickly. When I originally learned the language, however, I would meet with a teacher and then we would go out to a restaurant or bar after to practice on the unsuspecting Japanese public. It was this human interaction that helped me to learn how to speak as much as I can and, without that, it has stopped being as meaningful.

This thought made me reflect on how I use Lexia to support students’ reading. On the one hand, there is a lot of repetition and students are encouraged to practice the same skill over and over again. If they make more than one mistake they receive “instructions” from an unskippable video and are forced to start over. I feel that this cycle is pretty frustrating for students and I wouldn’t recommend this program were it not for the way it tracks student progress and has intervention lessons alongside resources for teachers to use. I go back and forth on my feelings about this program and whether it is truly making a difference in supporting students’ reading. On the one hand, I have a data source where I can follow my student’s progress and look at where they need support, however, I worry that the repetitive nature could lead to them falling out of love with reading. Last week I had a student with moderate dyslexia read aloud to some kindergardeners. She came away from that experience feeling proud of herself and motivated to keep on practicing her reading. I feel like that experience alone proves that technology, by itself, does not promote learning. Instead, it is the opportunities we create for students to interact with “authentic audiences” that make a difference.

Mistakes, Mishapes, Misfits

As much as I can, I try to own my mistakes when I make them in front of students and model appropriate reactions. I speak openly about things I know I find difficult or that I found hard in the past. When I was in primary school I found multi-digit multiplication and division really frustrating. I’m not sure I really understood the concept behind either until secondary school. Now maths is one of my favorite subjects to teach but I really had to work at it and it never came easily to me. I don’t mind sharing those experiences and frustrations with students as I hope it demonstrates what it means to have a growth mindset.

Head, Silhouette, Mindset, Mental Health, Speedometer
Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

Dweck’s research seems to have become synonymous with modern education and more than one of the grade levels at my school begin with an Inquiry into Growth Mindset as part of there Who We Are UOI. I feel as though these are important lessons for students in order to promote the idea of showing grit in the face of adversity. Last year my class designed surveys asking their parents or family about a time when they had to show a growth mindset. Some of the conversations that this inspired were amazing and most of my students came back having learned something new about their parents. Looking back at this activity my students definitely used technology in a basic way, we formed questions as a class, they drafted a reflection, and then typed their findings. Looking back I think that this could have been a great opportunity for students to create a presentation or an animation of what they found out in order to allow for a higher use of technology.

Paulo Freire’s Five Ideas for Dialogical Learning really resonated with me, particularly where the International Coaching Group talk about their belief that “recognizing the learner as an equal is essential for true learning to take place.” After hosting a workshop on difficult behaviors a few weeks ago I had a teacher ask me what they could do to repair a relationship with a student after they called them out in class. My answer was to show humility. To own the mistake, apologize for it and then address the behavior that led to that frustration.  I really like the sentence, “Simple actions we take that encourage connection–praise, smiles, words of encouragement, signs of respect, genuine interest, and concern-can encourage more meaningful dialogue and increase the chances for learning to take place.” By showing vulnerability, honesty, and integrity I believe we can create an environement where students can do the same.



Red Wine is Healthy

Glass, Wine, Drip, Red Wine, Drink, Liquid, Alcohol
Image by Christine Sponchia from Pixabay

Reading through the article Everyone Has Invisible Bias. This Lesson Shows Students How to Recognize It (Jacquelyn Whiting). I immediately began to reflect on the story of Kyle who wanted nothing more than to show his teacher “I know what I’m going to say!” and so embarked on a quest to “seek only sources that validate that pre-formed position”.  After the first few paragraphs I started to think to myself, “To what degree am I a Kyle?” When I find a food (or drink) that I really enjoy I often find myself Googling, “Is XYZ healthy?” To which I will usually scroll down through the endless warnings from baseless fake news sites such as the BBC, Mayo Clinic, and The American Heart Association until I find a source confirming that of course, the food (or drink) that I am consuming is fine for me, in fact, I should probably enjoy it more often than I currently do. I am, therefore, left with the conclusion that I might just be a bit of a Kyle.

Invisible Bias

Invisible, Bowler, Suit, Hat, Glasses, Retro, Anonymous
Image by Christine Sponchia from Pixabay

Invisible bias is a prejudice that is unconscious and you may not realize you have. Whiting’s article talks about how many of these prejudices can affect the world around us. She references the article Girlhood Interrupted published by The Georgetown Law Center on Poverty and Inequality in 2017 when she states that, “adults see black girls as less innocent than white peers.” This is deeply troubling, particularly in education as, “Another study found that white teachers were 30 percent less likely than black teachers to predict a black student of theirs would graduate college.” We all run the risk of falling into the “bias confirmation trap” where, just as Kyle did, we actively search for information that confirms what we want to know and disregard the facts that we disagree with declaring them false.

I thought that the lesson Whiting described, a mad-libs approach to discovering bias, would be a highly engaging task for students. In particular, the impact language has on the tone of a paragraph would spark some deep conversations amongst students while, simultaneously, revealing some of their own biases. As I think again about my own invisible biases I am thinking more about how I use online sources to validate my own pre-formed ideas. I want to move away from being yet another Kyle and am prepared to explore sources that may disprove my own preformed opinions.

Antioxidants in red wine called polyphenols may help protect the lining of blood vessels in your heart. A polyphenol called resveratrol is one substance in red wine that’s gotten attention for its health benefits. – Mayo Clinic –Red wine and resveratrol: Good for your heart?

Truly, Madly, Deeply Learning

Algorithm, Mockup, Images, By Machine, Learn
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Reading through chapter 3 of A Rich Seam by Michael Fullan and Maria Langworthy made me think about how exciting it is to be an educator right now. Deep learning tasks lead to students constructing knowledge and then applying it to the world around them. The example of Dog River from the article is perfect for showing students taking action and using their knowledge. After learning about environmental issues 10th-grade students were tasked with doing something that could make a difference. The students chose to clean up their local river and created an action plan that helped build awareness about the levels of pollution. These opportunities to take learning beyond the classroom  give students “authentic choice over what they learn and how they execute the learning.”

Agfa, Vintage, Camera, Film, Retro, Analog, Lens
Image by Rudy and Peter Skitterians from Pixabay

As part of their inquiry into digital citizenship, my fourth-grade students were tasked with creating videos that would teach their peers how to be good digital citizens and stay safe online. The students were given specific criteria for their videos and they then formed questions that they wanted their films to answer. They had control over their creations and it was great to see the students learning from each other as they put their creations together. There was a real sense of agency amongst the students and they were taking pride in their creations as it had a greater meaning to them than a simple written report.

I am excited to start integrating more deeper learning opportunities this year that tie into student’s ILP goals. I feel as though since the start of this year I have been focused on Old pedagogies, namely explicit, direct instruction without providing enough opportunity for students to apply that learning outside of the classroom. This is certainly something that has been on my mind this year and something I will be implementing next semester.





Learned much you have…

Emerging Theories of Learning and the Role of Technology (Doak), Jenkins 2013; Willms et al 2009

It perhaps comes as no surprise that the Jedi order crumbled. Their insistence on holding onto an archaic educational model where the teacher delivers lessons to a student without an opportunity for questions does not seem as though it would provide a rich learning environment. Instead, it is possibly to the Sith, we should look to for inspiration. Here, students are encouraged to ask questions of their mentor, to form a close bond as teacher and student push each other in order to reach higher achievement, and their one-to-one mentoring program is second to none. Although, the whole rule of two thing has been known to backfire from time to time. Intergalactic space wizards aside,  opportunities for deep learning are being created through New Pedagogies that encourage closer human connections.

time lapse photography of man dancing
Photo by Ahmad Odeh on Unplash


When I joined my current school there was a huge pedagogical shift taking place where the focus was moving towards student-centered learning. Over the past few years, it has been an exciting time to be working as an educator. The difference at a student level of moving away from a traditional model of education has been one of more open collaboration and excitement, particularly where new technologies are involved. I run a design and coding club for students where the emphasis is on students learning from one another and sharing ideas. I found Emerging Theories of Learning and the Role of Technology (Doak) affirmed the approaches I was trying to take. When discussing Distributed Cognition Doak referenced a case study in which students used flow charts to construct robots with LEGO Mindscapes. These flow charts offloaded some of the cognitive work which then allowed them to solve more complex problems. I am currently using SAM Labs which allows students to create and program a variety of different systems. I have found that by using flowcharts the students have been able to apply what they have learned to solve increasingly difficult problems. Last week, for example, the students created a system where a car would move when an RGB LED turned green. The students were then asked to work in teams to create a 4-way intersection where vehicles would stop at a red light and go on a green light. It was exciting to see the students step up to these challenges and even try to take it further by, in the case of one group, by adding an encryption sequence to initialize their system.

Learning Theories in action

Personally, when I think of new pedagogies one of the first educators who really made me reflect on my own teaching was Dan Meyers.

His 3-Act Math tasks have an incredible impact on the classroom and it’s amazing to see a shift in student discourse from simply trying to solve a problem to really considering what the problem is asking. I think his quote, “The math serves the conversation, the conversation doesn’t serve the maths” is profound and it’s something that I’ve tried to carry over across other subject areas. During my maths classes it was apparent how the students had displayed both situated cognition and socially-shared cognition (Emerging Theories of Learning and the Role of Technology Doak) and, in my opinion, this is what it means to have an authentic learning environment where students are taking an active role in their learning communities. Even students who typically struggle with maths were engaged and able to participate, even when they needed additional support in the computation.

(As a brief aside Dan’s blog largely lists 3-Act tasks for middle and high school but there are other educators such as Graham Fletcher who took influence from Dan and created their own lessons. Fletcher’s blog can be found here.)

Could there be issues that arise from new pedagogies?

More than ever, my school have a lot of emerging English speakers joining the upper elementary grade levels and even into middle school. For many of these students, teachers will ask other members of their learning community or paraprofessionals to translate instructions. In some cases, however, this approach to inclusivity is having the adverse effect of some students using their home languages more than English. At recess times we are seeing a split community and so I would ask what other schools have done or if this has been an issue? Our language policy is centered around honoring the home language, but perhaps too much so? I find myself wondering how it is possible to honor the home language while simultaneously ensuring that English becomes our shared language.



Seeking opportunities to go One Step Beyond.

What a difference a week makes

red tulips on yellow tulips field
Photo by Eric Prouzet on Unsplash

Technology integration has always been important to me and it is the reason I joined COETAIL. I incorporate a lot of technology into modifications and accommodations for students to find success in the general education setting.  For example, I have some students who are using Dragon dictation software for speech-to-text. I have other students who use Storyline Online and Epic to access books and have texts read aloud to them. I also have some students using Lexia in order to further develop their reading and phonics skills at home.

One of the reasons I feel that technology integration is vital to the classroom is that “research has suggested that technology-enabled project learning has the greatest benefits as these allow students to be intellectually challenged while providing them with a realistic snapshot of what real-world problems look like.” (Brian Host, Education Technology, May 2019).  I want my students to feel empowered to participate and collaborate so I embrace the opportunities that tech integration, through mediums such as video production or Flip Grid, can offer students. This year, however, I have been faced with the challenge of time. I often feel that I do not have enough contact time with students and so I have been limited in how I integrate technology in my own classroom.


TPACK model diagram
Image by

In this video, Jen Lehotsky mentions that the three circles in the Venn diagram will not be of equal size as those pertaining to pedagogical and content knowledge will be larger than technological knowledge. If you were to visit my classroom a week ago, however, you would have seen that all tech integration that was happening was set firmly in the substitution or augmentation brackets of SAMR.

Image from Transformation, Technology, and Education (Ruben R. Puentedura)

I found learning about both the SAMR and TPACK framework really interesting. I knew that there was an element missing from how I was integrating technology into my classes but I couldn’t label it, now I can. Moving students’ work into Modification and Redefinition has been the biggest hurdle for me this year. I feel pressured by a lack of contact time with students and using a dedicated reading program that they are comfortable with. As a homeroom teacher, I had more opportunities for authentic and creative tech integration which has been lacking this year.

Something Changed

This week, however, I had the opportunity to include some video production in one of my classes. I have a student who is struggling to make progress in maths. She is able to solve grade-level maths problems, however, when she is working at home she has a lot of anxiety and doubts herself. In order to help her, I worked with her to create a video detailing the process for a 2-digit division. She talked herself through each step of the process and then edited the video using iMovie. I am excited to hear how this process helped her on Monday and, if it was useful, I will continue to help support her in creating tutorial videos.

I feel as though I am starting to see more opportunities for going (at least) one step beyond substitution with tech integration that will support my students’ progress towards ILP (Individualized learning Plan) goals. Time will always be a challenge, however, I am now feeling more confident in finding times when I can use technology to further support students. I am looking forward to hearing my students’ reflection and now thinking about ways that, if she feels confident, she could share her video tutorials with others.









Course 3 Final Project

Made It!

UBD planner

SlideDeck presentation


The past few weeks have been a whirlwind but here we are. I really enjoyed this collaboration with Shalene and Julija and I learned a lot from both of them. We chose Option 1 this time around as, previously, we had all worked on other options. My personal goal was to create an authentic learning experience that would help students make progress towards their literacy goals.


geen plant sprout
Photo by Stanislav Kondratiev on Unsplash

I did far better this time around with finding other members of my cohort to work with. We set up four meetings over four weeks to discuss ideas and develop our plan over Zoom. The most difficult part with connecting this time around was the time difference. I am currently five hours ahead of my teammates. With that said, I thought we worked well at remaining flexible with each other and rearranging meeting times when needed.


blue and white amusement ride
Photo by Etienne Girardet on Unsplash

I have not yet started this plan with students but I will this week. I am really looking forward to seeing their creations in a few weeks. I think that both Thinglink and Book Creator are excellent tools for our lesson and I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to learn about them. In students, I hope to see gains in confidence with literacy. The video blog entries on Flipgrid will be useful for monitoring the student’s own feelings towards their progress and, I hope, a meaningful record for them to look back on.

Relating to Course 3


Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

While my main goal for students working through this unit would be to see growth in their literacy skills I think that it also provides an opportunity for them to take on the role of designers. The rubric requires the students to select images that are related to their stories. Last year I used Storybird as part of our poetry unit. While many students enjoyed the experience my school did not have a subscription so we were limited by the choice of images available to us. This led to some students choosing images that had little to do with their final written pieces. I believe that Book Creator would allow students more agency when choosing images that helped bring their stories to life and so make the experience even more meaningful.



Givin’ a Flip

I’m the mother flippin’

It had been a while since I last posted anything on Flipgrid and boy did this week’s activity take me back to distance learning. During the Global Read Aloud last year, my class connected with a school in the United States and students had the opportunity to share reflections and opinions of The Front Desk by Kelly Yang. This provided a great opportunity for students to share insights into what lives were like in their respective countries and helped provide a deeper understanding of how the protagonist, a Chinese immigrant, felt.

While I love the app and the possibilities it allows for collaboration, unfortunately, it has become more unreliable in China. There are times when both myself and the other students could not access our grids or those shared by others, which was frustrating. I would be really excited to hear from anyone who knew of alternatives to Flipgrid just in case we have to return to distance learning in the future.

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

Flippin’ the script

This was my first time working through a text rendering protocol and I thought it was brilliant. I am already thinking of how to use this strategy with my students to help with reading comprehension and allow for deeper discussions about a text. Flipgrid was a perfect tool for this as it helped bring other educator’s ideas to life and it really helped me think deeper about what I had read about The Cycle of Socialization.

This week’s reading really hit me hard. Last week I was watching a documentary that included sketches from Not the 9 O’ Clock News, a British comedy show that ran from 1979 – 1982. Some of the shots from 1980’s Britain looked remarkable similar to scenes we are seeing played out on current BBC news reports. More than ever I think teaching students how to ask questions and reflect is important if we want to avoid being stuck in the same cycle.

Our Lower School student council was recently presented with some social issues from our school. They immediately began to discuss what could be done to make changes happen and independently emailed our admin team to arrange a meeting regarding school-wide expectations. Change is possible and we need to encourage students to question systems as well as find solutions.

Here is a QR code to my response posted on FlipGrid.