Andale, Andale, it’s the A.I., A.I. … What’s Happening Now?!

“Artificial Intelligence will be part of our future. It’s inevitable.”

Sundar Pichai

Human vs artificial intelligence concept.

Now that we have established that A.I. is inevitably part of our future… how can it be incorporated into education?

I think most educators can agree that when ChatGPT arrived on the scene, it seemed to be terrifying how easy it was for students to have a computer do their work for them. I know the feelings I had can be related back to a, 1858 quote about the telegraph from earlier this semester..

There can be no rational doubt that the telegraph has caused vast injury. Superficial, unsifted, too fast for the truth…

There was fear that it was too fast and too smart. That students would use it to write essays for them and that the world of education would forever be changed (not necessarily for the better). I will admit that I was also very fearful of how Artificial Intelligence would change everything; however after learning more about technology this term I am realizing that humans just have a natural fear of things that they don’t understand.

In the video Evolution of Artificial Intelligence, it is mentioned that in June of 2023, ChatGPT generated 1.6 billion visits. These numbers tell us that we can’t just stick our heads in the sand and ignore that AI is here to stay. It’s now time to ask ourselves some essential questions when it comes to the use of new tech in education:

Blue digital question marks background 3D rendering

  • What are the good/bad things that this can bring about?
  • How does it change the student experience?
  • How does it change the way we think about learning?
  • What might it solve?
  • What new problems might it bring?
  • Is it going to help us potentially do better things?
  • What ways can we use this technology?

What are the good and bad things that this can bring about?

In the context of education, there are many different answers that I see here. It gives educators and students easier access to an seemingly endless information.  AI can be used to help with research and lesson planning, which in turn makes sure that students are receiving top-notch information. However, this could also lead to students and teachers relying too heavily on AI, using it to do tasks that require human thought and communication. As stated in AI Ethics and Governance in Practice, “In order to manage these impacts responsibly and to direct the development of AI systems toward optimal public benefit, considerations of AI ethics … must be a first priority.”

How does it change the student experience?

After sitting with this question, I’m realizing that AI can have a positive change on the student experience. It calls educators to question WHY we teach the things that we teach. What facts and statistics do we require students to memorize in a world where they have quick and easy access to everything they could ever need? Should we be thinking about shifting to a different type of teaching, that is thought-provoking and allows students to form their own thoughts and opinions? The funny thing here is that I find myself using MagicSchool to help lead me down the right path when it comes to AI-resistant assignments. Key word there being “lead.”

How does it change the way we think about learning?

Learning is “the relatively permanent change in a person’s knowledge or behaviour due to experience.” (Mayer, 1982, p.1040) I look at this quote from earlier this term and see that the idea of a change in behaviour stands out to me more than a change in knowledge. Perhaps having access to Artificial Intelligence really calls on us to focus on WHAT and HOW we learn in this new world. We want students to interpret, evaluate, analyze, connect… things that we can’t ask a computer to do for us. Through writing each of these blog posts, I myself am learning to form my own connections and access a deeper level of understanding.

What might it solve?

Oh, so many things! I have started using AI to tackle mundane tasks to free myself up to focus more on my content and providing the best learning experiences possible for my students. I am also hoping to try AI to correct grammar and spelling errors in student essays so that I can better use my time to focus on content.

Young man is typing on laptop keyboard over white office desk. Top view with copy space, flat lay.

What new problems might it bring?

There is definitely the possibility of many problems arising from the use of AI in the classroom. The simplest problem would be students using it to complete assignments. As I stated earlier, however, it is up to us to teach students how to responsibly use Artificial Intelligence, and to create assignments that require deeper thought. I always try to stress to my students that the point of coming to school isn’t’ just to get good grades; it is to learn life skills that will make them successful and happy in their futures.

Is it going to help us potentially do better things?

100% yes. There are so many ways that Artificial Intelligence can help us. I used an AI Chatbot to help plan a 3 week trip to Europe this past summer. It gave me some great destinations and travel advice, saving me a ton of time and stress while planning an itinerary. I have also used Artificial Intelligence to allow my students to ask questions of great historical and fictional characters – a few weeks ago they were asking a chatbot Luigi Galvani insightful and thoughtful questions about his findings in the field of bioelectricity. There are so many amazing possibilities with AI!

What ways can we use this technology?

In this week’s presentation, Christina gave us an amazing list summing up where we can use Generative AI in Education. I personally use AI to help me expand my vocabulary when it comes to report card comments, creating basic slideshows that I can build from, locating resources, and finding new ways to support my diverse group of students.

In the future I want to teach my students to use AI to help them with their essays. What if I had them print their peer-edited drafts, THEN plug it into AI to get corrections? They would be able to then write these corrections on their original drafts to show what they are taking from it. I genuinely wonder if this would help them learn from errors, and over time prevent them from making the same mistakes.

Go ahead and continuously improvement concept, silhouette man jump on a cliff from past to future with cloud sky background.

As far as the future goes, Max Roser puts it best by saying that “A technological development as powerful as this should be at the center of our attention.” Artificial Intelligence isn’t going anywhere, and we need to continue to ask ourselves questions to ensure that we are giving our students the best education possible with AI in their world.

They See Me Coding…

… but what is coding??

Writing programming code on laptop. Digital binary data on computer screen

What my brain sees when I think about coding…

Jamie K. tells us that “Coding is the process of writing out steps for a computer to follow to achieve a goal or perform a task.” Over the last ten years of teaching, I have learned that coding does not have to be as scary or overwhelming as we first think!

My first exposure to coding was when I was introduced to Hour Of Code. I was a new flappy bird game background for parallax effect with city and trees in the back pixel artteacher with a very rambunctious group of third graders and my division’s consultant brought the idea to me. To be honest, I saw something that could get my students settled, engaged, and building their skills in problem-solving.  It allowed me a solid 10-15 minutes each day after lunch to get my students calm after the excitement of lunchtime so that I could sort through the drama of that day (type my log entries for the office, call parents, etc.)

However…. when my administrator asked me what specific outcomes I was teaching with Hour of Code, I was a little stuck.

Fast-forward a year, and my principal at the time approaches me to ask me if I know anything about computers. I say yes, of course… and next thing I know it I am coaching the school robotics team with First Lego League.

wide-eyed and bushy-tailed at the 2018 FLL Provincials

My awesome, mighty team… 3 of whom are graduating this year!

I was never into robotics or really big into technology myself at this point. I had literally no clue what this league was about, or how to do anything. I was blessed with a group of students that were excited and passionate about coding and robotics, and together we figured it out!

The best way I found to learn this was to invite our high school’s robotics coach and students to teach us about the basics. We set up some times after school to head over and practice with the robots and coding programs.

The blessing in disguise with my utter lack of knowledge was that my students were able to take the lead and have a lot of independence on their journey. I remember being at this competition at the U of R… our principal came to watch and was in utter shock that I let the kids take the robot as well as the lead with almost everything. They had learned with me from the beginning and I knew that they were able to do this confidently.

 This experience is also the reason why I strongly believe that coding and makerspaces do not have to be taught by “techies.”

My experience with First Lego League really showed me how much value there is in coding with students: they learned about the scientific method, researching real-world problems to solve, teamwork, and resilience. The students that I had take part in this club were students who weren’t interested in playing sports, but still wanted to be part of a team. It was a beautiful thing to see.

There is More

I have found that there are a lot of amazing benefits to teaching coding in this capacity (as extra-curricular, or as work students can do when they are finished classroom tasks). I do, however, see some obstacles preventing me from bringing it into my daily classroom lessons.

  1. CURRICULAR CONNECTIONS – I would need to really sit down and see what curricular connections I can make between coding and the outcomes outlined for me. I know, I know — it’s possible… I just haven’t taken the time to do it. I have made some connections between curriculum and Minecraft Ed (building the scene where a novel we are reading takes place, or building a rocket for the Artemis mission to align with our space unit), so I know it’s possible. I have been looking into CoSpaces Edu and am hoping to try that at some point in my near future with some help from my students.

2. COST – During this class presentation, my group learned about Sphero, a coding robot. It looks really fun and I know that students could learn some lessons about resilience/the scientific method from using it, but I’m not sure the cost is worth it. I had a both a hard time relating it to the curricular outcomes I teach, and reconciling that with the cost that it would take to get this for my school.

All that said, the conclusion that I have come to with coding is this… it is a GREAT experience for students to have. Maybe it doesn’t tie in to all of the curricular outcomes, but it can be used to touch on some. Coding teaches valuable life skill such as teamwork and resilience — if schools and teachers want to give it a shot, why not start by running a small coding club with students as an extra-curricular activity? This gives everyone the chance to figure it out, learn, and see how it can be used in the classroom later on.

I mean, what’s the worst that could happen?

Little cute boy kid wearing casual white tshirt clueless and confused expression with arms and hands raised. doubt concept.

How Assistive is Assistive Tech??

Assistive Technology is for Everyone – Teaching in a Fishbowl

Take a minute to think about where you use assistive technology in your day-to-day life. Do you use closed captioning when you watch TV? Do you take advantage of the word prediction on Google Docs? Is the text on your phone zoomed in so it’s easier to see? Do you utilize the voice-to-text option to send messages?

Assistive Technology  is identified by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (2004) as being “Any item, piece of equipment or product system, whether acquired
commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of children with disabilities.”

Saskatchewan Schools use The Adaptive Dimension for Saskatchewan K-12 Students to ensure that we are practicing inclusion of students with all abilities and exceptionalities. A great way to include all learners is by using assistive technology. After listening to this week’s presentation, I really started to think about how I use assistive tech in my own classroom.

Let’s start with low-tech devices. Areej Ahmed tells us that low-tech devices are low-priced equipment that costs less than high-tech; it is also simply designed and requires limited training.
child's hand with writing tool for help by incorrect holding of pencil

Immediately, I think of my beloved wobble stools and rockers in the classroom. They do require limited training (how they are meant to be used) and have a huge impact on my students who are diagnosed with ADHD. It is almost always my first go to when I move to a new school and into a new classroom. I find this has such a huge impact on my students and their ability to focus and pay attention in class. The challenge with these tools is that they are expensive. A rocker could easily benefit every student in my classroom… and many students want a rocker, but we don’t have the budget to make that happen.

Another wonderful low-tech tool that I like to use in my classroom are resistance bands. I like to tie them around two legs of my student’s desk so that they can bounce their feet on them. Unfortunately this can sometimes cause them to snap so I need to make sure to teach how to properly use them first. Resistance bands are also wonderful for body breaks… some of my more active students will walk down to the student support room to do some exercises as a great body break when they are struggling to focus in class!

There are so many other low-tech assistive tools that I use, but I will finish off with these Loop Earplugs. I am blessed to work in a school with families that can afford to purchase items such as this to support their child. I suggested these to a student who, due to a medical reason, is very sensitive to noise – you can imagine the struggle with that in a very rambunctious group of 27 students. I am a friend of this student’s mother, and I sent her the link to these earplugs and asked if she had heard of them. This particular student now wears these throughout the day to reduce excessive sound, and finds them very helpful in phys. ed and other noisy environments! A more affordable alternative to this would be the larger noise-cancelling headphones… the issue I’ve found with these in middle years is that students don’t want to wear them because they are noticeable, and we all know that pre-teens just want to fit in. The downfall of the loops is that they are quite pricey ($70+) and can only be used by one student since they fit inside the ear like earbuds. They are also extremely easy to lose.

I also employ many different high-tech devices, which Areej Ahmed describes as being “… more complicated and cost more. They also require training or guidance from the user, such as adaptive equipment, voice recognition software, or word prediction software (Johnston & Watson, 2007).”

The first one that I hadn’t really thought about as an sound recording concept - close up of small lavalier clip-on microphone on blue male shirtassistive tool (because I’m so used to it) until this week’s class is my microphone. To be honest, I have always worn it because it saves my voice and I learned on it a lot while wearing a mask during the pandemic years.  This system is so beneficial for so many reasons! It allows ALL students to hear my voice, which immediately leads to better focus and understanding. It also helps my students with who require an SLP to hear me enunciate my words. Additionally, as already mentioned, it saves my voice and allows me sto speak at a normal volume instead of yelling to project my voice through the entire classroom. A downfall here is that since moving to my new school, we do not have the same system that I used at my last school (Lightspeed Redcat). It was very expensive (upwards of $1500), and as such my previous school is not open to sending it over for me to use for this school year. We are using a much cheaper alternative, but I am not finding it nearly as effective or easy to use as the previous one.

The second high-tech device I will touch on is this middle-years calculator (TI-15). I love this tool for my grade 5-7 students because it allows them to keep up to their peers and still have an understanding of the processes going on. For example, I have a Hand holds blue calculator on yellow background.particular student who has always struggled with math. They don’t want to ask for help to draw attention to themselves because in the past they have been teased for being “dumb.” This calculator allows them to reduce or add and subtract fractions, round decimal numbers, and use the order of operations along with everyone else. At first, they were hesitant to give it a try just incase other students saw them using an assistive tool. I send a practice book home for them to work through with parents and they saw that it can take a lot of that mental load out of the assignments, allowing them to see the process and understand the concepts. The biggest downside with this calculator is that the student sees it as a negative – which is why I encourage them to do the question first, and use it to check answers instead.

The next high-tech assistive tool I’ll talk about is voice-to-text using something like Google Read&Write. This was actually a tool that my class shared with me a number of years ago. My initial thought was that it would be great for students to listen back to their writing to see if they can catch any awkward-sounding sentences, but at the time the reading wasn’t quite smooth enough for that. So I taught my students how to use it as a voice-to-text tool. In theory, it is amazing, but honestly I have found it nearly impossible to find a space quiet enough for a student to use it effectively. The kids also find that they aren’t enunciating words clearly enough for it to understand what they are trying to say. One thing I do like with voice-to-text options is using it to spell words that you are unsure of. Even writing this blog post, I have my Google search handy so I can just tap the microphone to check my spelling.

Okay, finally I have a new one that I just discovered 2 days ago. MagicSchoolAI is a tool that I’ve been very excited about. I’ll admit, they totally suckered me in when they offered the paid version for free – I used my PD funds to get myself a year subscription to it shortly after. I heard they were going to release a student-centered AI tool called MagicStudent and immediately joined the wait list. On Friday, I got an email that I was now able to access this tool, and there are so many possibilities! One in particular that I enjoy is the ability to speak to any historical figure or literary character in history. I would be able to open JUST this option on students’ chromebooks, and they can type in the name of a particular scientist or historical figure we are learning about and ask them questions! Immediately I wanted to run to school and start trying it out with my students… but then I remembered something that was mentioned in our Productivity Suites presentation…

What kind of data is being collected here?

So, I slowed my roll and decided to do some more digging. I found the Student Data Policy and the Privacy Policy on the website, and will be sure to comb throught it and try to get additional opinions before giving access to my students.

With the evolution of the Web, there are so many new and exciting tools coming out that appear to have huge benefits for student learning. My job as an educator is to properly vet these tools and ensure that they are safe and beneficial for my students. If you have read through the Student Data Policy, I’m very curious to hear your take on it!

Curiosity Moves You Forward sign with sky background

Thanks for reading 🙂


“Assessment is not a spreadsheet, it’s a conversation.”

–  Joe Bower

Boy, do I wish that I had heard this simple description of assessment before I entered the field. Or maybe I did, but I was so bogged down and stressed out that I never put it into practice as a new teacher.

Standardized test form with pencil and eraser with a shallow depth of field and copy space

If I were to ask my students what assessment is, they would tell me that it is a grade or a mark… as in the familiar questions, “Is this for marks? Will this be graded? What do I need to do to get an EU on the next test?” When I think about what assessment is to me, however, it is a way to see if a student has a grasp on a particular outcome taken from the curriculum.

Çekiç & Bakla recognize that there are two forms of assessment that are used in education: summative assessment and formative assessment.

They say that summative assessment “… refers to the practice of assessing learning at the end of the learning process, usually for making decisions regarding success or failure.”

Furthermore, Çekiç & Bakla describe formative assessment as the monitoring of students’ performance in order to pinpoint incomplete or missing knowledge/skills and to try to fill these gaps.

For this blog post, I’m going to focus on summative assessment, and how it can be more of a conversation than spreadsheet, with the help of technology. 
businessman SURVEY and Results Analysis Discovery Concept

I was scrolling on Pinterest over the February break when I came across this revision sheet from Scaffolded Math.

This school year, I have always allowed students to take assignments or tests back, fix their corrections, and hand them back in to me to have another look at or to re grade them. This revision sheet looked like an even better way to do that, because there is a spot for students to explain why their new answer is correct, and even why they made the mistake in the first place.

Naturally, I stapled it to the back of our last unit test. When I returned tests back to students, I explained that they needed to take it home to show parents, and that the revision sheet was there if they wanted to fix their mistakes. I told them that the “Explain” boxes were there so that they can tell me WHY they got the question wrong, and how they corrected that error.

I was thrilled to see what happened next! Students took their tests home and figured out exactly what went wrong with the mistakes that were made. They were able to find the error, figure out WHY they made that error, and explain it to me. It felt more like a cognitive approach (focus on the mental process and problem solving), or even a constructivist approach (feedback to continue learning) to assessment.

Why haven’t I done this before? TIME. This is the first year in a while that I have felt I could set aside the time to do a second check of the assessments and update scores… although it didn’t take very long at all. What I wish is that the feedback could have been more immediate for a true constructivist approach…

So what about online assessment? Maybe that could help with the immediate feedback dilemma.

I like to think that I can use the immediate feedback from online assessment to drive my instruction in the right direction (more of a formative assessment tool). The other day, I started math off with a round of 99math, focusing on rounding decimals, and found that my students weren’t yet comfortable with that concept. We spent the rest of that class reviewing how to round decimals, and everyone finished with some drill-and-practice that I was able to quickly and easily assign with 99math.

To use online assessment in a summative manner, I am interested in the idea of using AI to correct spelling and grammar on student essays, so that I can put more of my time into the content and structure of their writing. This would allow me to get through those 27 essays a lot quicker than I have been so that students can get feedback sooner and then go back to make those changes. I’m going to try to do that before the end of this school year.

Now, for someone who is feeling overwhelmed by all of the assessment options and has no idea where to start… what can you do? As Alonzo et al explains, we can use online tools and social media to enhance those conversations… using it as a tool for students to grow and develop their ideas by interacting not just with their teacher, but with each other.

What would happen if we replaced the word “assessment” with the word “conversation” as Bower describes? Keeping in mind that to have a conversation is to have a back-and-forth between two or more people, and not just one person delivering words to another person.

Something to think about…

What in the Web is Going On?!

 “The web influences people’s way of thinking, doing and being, and people influence the development and content of the web.  The evolution of the web from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 and now to Web 3.0 can be used as a metaphor of how education should also be evolving, as a movement from Education 1.0 toward that of Education 3.0.  The Web, Internet, Social Media, and the evolving, emerging technologies have created a perfect storm or convergence of resources, tools, open and free information access.” (Jackie Gerstein)

Shocked and surprised boy on the internet with laptop computer

If there is one thing we learned from Monday’s presentation on Web 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0, it’s that the web seems to be changing at a pace that is mind-boggling to comprehend. The first website launched the year I was born, and we are now seeing Artificial Intelligence make its way into our lives. It really makes me wonder if perhaps the millenial generation is seeing more rapid changes in technology than ever before…

With these swift changes in the Web, we also see swift changes in Education happening before our very eyes.

Before we get too far into impacts on today’s education, let’s quickly review the evolution of the web from Web 1.0 to Web 3.0.

Web 1.0 and Education 1.0

John Terra describes Web 1.0 as being “…designed to help people better find information… This web version is sometimes called ‘the read-only Web’ because it lacks the necessary forms, visuals, controls, and interactivity we enjoy on today’s Internet.” In my research for this presentation, I learned that the web was created to allow for scientists to share data across the world. The whole purpose was for free sharing of information.

Now, Jackie Gerstein makes an interesting comparison between each verison of the Web and the evolution of Education. Education 1.0, like Web 1.0, is also about the access of information. Like Web 1.0, teachers were seen as the gatekeepers of information, and would share this information with students. The students, in turn, receive, respond, and regurgitate that information.


This can easily be compared to a behaviourist approach to education. The learners are seen as having no unique characteristics, and their role is to take in the knowledge given by the teacher.

Web 2.0 and Education 2.0

We saw Web 2.0 emerge early in the 2000s. Heather Hall describes Web 2.0 as “…the second generation of the World Wide Web. It focuses on the web as a platform and offers more opportunities for collaboration, functionality, various applications, and user-generated content.” This is often referred to as “the social web,” as we now saw two-way communication.

Jackie Gerstein compares Web 2.0 to Education 2.0. In this “wave” of education, we see learners “communicating, connecting, and collaborating.”


Sydney compared Web 2.0 and Education 2.0 to the constructivist approach. She shared that we can see Education 2.0 in things like project-based learning, inquiry learning, shared blogs, and global learning projects.

Web 3.0 and Education 3.0

Shyamli Jha describes Web 3.0 as being “the concept of the next generation of web, in which most users will be connected via a decentralized network and have access to their own date.” Brianne further explained that in this phase of the internet, users own their own information… meaning that they can choose what can be done with that information. There seems to be more autonomy happening with this version of the web.

Jackie Gerstein tells us that Education 3.0 is “… self-determined, interest-based learning where problem-solving, innovation and creativity drive education.” She explains that Education 3.0 is all about connectors, creators, and constructivists.


Brianne further broke this down by telling the group that these 3 C’s are all nouns for self-determined learners. In this wave of education we are seeing the learners becoming the authors of their learning experiences.

What Impact does the Shift to Web 3.0 Have on Education?

So… now that that’s out of the way… what does impact does this latest shift have on education? In the blog post Education 3.0: Altering Round Peg in Round Hole Education, I read that many educators are reluctant to utlizie Web 3.0 in their classrooms. I myself can relate to this… thinking that I don’t have the time, resources, or the know how. I’ve also become accustomed to the way that I’ve been teaching for the last year, and am not ready to make any changes to that.

But the author of this blog (Jackie Gerstein) explains that this mindset is the result of Education 1.0.  Educators have developed a fixed mindset when it comes to the way that we are teaching, and I myself am guilty of this as well. We are hesitant to enter into the unknown. The problem with this is that we need to keep in mind what is best for the student.

Gerstein goes on in her blog to ask the reader, “Do you want to be a whittler or a dream-facilitator?” At the end of the day, we need to find the fine balance between teaching curricular outcomes while also allowing students to take charge of their own learning. Maybe this can be done through passion projects with the use of technology, maybe this can be done by using AI tools to relate these outcomes to things that our students are passionate about. At the end of the day, our job is to do what we can to ensure that the students are put first.

Teachers who are advantaged by Web 3.0 would be those who are newer to the profession and have been honing their craft during the shift from Web 2.0 to Web 3.0. Those who began teaching during the early days of Web 1.0 likely struggled to incorporate tech in their teaching, and this would have become even more difficult as we shifted to online/blended learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Students who will be advantaged by Web 3.0 will likely be the same as those who were advantaged by the previous two versions of the web – students who have access to devices and internet both at home and at school. They will have prior knowledge and be able to complete assignments with ease, compared to those who are not as familiar with the web.

This graphic speaks a lot to me. It reminds me that we don’t need to change everything we are doing as we see the impact of Web 3.0 on education. I like to try new things and have my students help me along the way — maybe something new will be a hit, or maybe it will just be a little bit of time lost in the day. We, as educators need to be willing to make these changes (maybe not all at once) and practice what we preach, which is having a growth mindset.

psychology, success, personal

Photo by Tumisu on Pixabay

Should Blended and Online Learning Be Here to Stay?

According to, “Online learning… refers to the delivery of educational content and instruction through the internet.”

This week’s presentation spoke about different types of online learning; including video conferencing, synchronous, asynchronous, open schedule, and fixed time learning. In our small group, we discussed which type of online learning is most beneficial for us (more on that in a moment).

This current class utilizes a number of tools to reach all of the learners. UR Courses uses Moodle as a hub for everything, Zoom is where we can meet for classes or with our groups (as it is open all the time), and we share work on blogs and can access each other’s work through the blog hub. We also utilize shared documents thanks to Google’s Workspace and use the Discord to ask questions, share resources, and communicate with each other.

coffee, school, homework

Photo by ejlindstrom on Pixabay

As an adult learner with a career and a hectic home schedule, the flexibility that comes with an online course is a necessity… without it, I’m sure I wouldn’t be furthering my education.

That being said, it is my belief that too much flexibility is not beneficial for my own personal learning. I appreciate taking synchronous classes, which were defined in our presentation as having a required class time each week. This allows me to stay on track, ask questions of my classmates and instructor, and keep  more of a routine. I discussed this with my husband, asking if he would prefer synchronous or asynchronous (viewing instructional videos at any time) classes. His response was, “well if you aren’t meeting every week you can just rip out all the videos and do a half decent job to get it over with.”

And therein lies the problem… WHY are we here? Why did I apply to be in this program and pay tuition? To get it over with? To bump myself up on the pay grid? Or did I do it to learn?

I am doing this because I love what I do, and I am in a place where I am ready to learn and grow in my career.

I personally do not believe that I have ever gotten as much knowledge and interest from any asynchronous courses I have taken… it has always been about getting it done. Which is not what learning is about. It’s about finding something that interests you and taking in as much as you can to grow both personally and professionally.

For that reason, I believe that the Zoom class time would be the most useful tool when it comes to online and blended learning.  According to “Teaching in a Digital Age“, this would fall under the category of Social Media.

“Andreas Kaplan and Michael Haenlein (2010) define social media as

a group of Internet-based applications that …allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content, based on interactions among people in which they create, share or exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks.”

It is imperative to have that face-to-face time to ask questions and mull things over in discussions.

teacher, learning, school

Photo by 14995841 on Pixabay

When COVID hit us in March 2020, I was having a tough year in the classroom. I was teaching a group that I had already taught in grade 2, and again in grade 3. I knew that they were a challenging group, and that they would test boundaries. To be honest, when they announced that the school would be closing I felt a huge sense of RELIEF. This was my third year with this crew and I was ready for a break.

By May, I was ready to get back into the classroom. I came to realize that I feed off of the energy of those around me, and without the energy of the classroom I was bored with teaching. It also had a profound effect on the students.

In class we talked about how school is more than just the curriculum. My students were coming to school to get breakfast, to learn about hygiene, to learn social skills, problem solving skills, and to feed off of the energy of those around them just like I do. The joy of learning was gone. It just wasn’t the same.

For this reason, I do not think that online education is a good idea for our growing and maturing learners. There will of course be the exceptions to the rule, but being out of the house and around peers is an integral part of the education system. It comes with challenges, yes… but those challenges inspire growth in students that will lead to happy, healthy, and successful futures. As someone who was truly looking forward to distance learning, I can say with confidence that (in most cases) this is NOT beneficial to our students.

Productivity Suites… yes please!

Productivity Suites

What is a productivity suite, and what is their current role in education?

According to Forbes, an office (or productivity) suite is “… a set of productivity applications that typically include email, file sharing, document editing and collaborative tools.” explains the popularity of Google’s Productivity Suite by stating that “Today, more than half the nation’s primary-and secondary-school students… use Google education apps like Gmail and Docs”

In my own teaching experience, Google really took over in my school division around 2015. Instead of using large laptops to create presentations on Powerpoint and type essays on Word we began making the switch to Chromebooks, which were clearly a more affordable option. It also allowed us to move from 1 device per 2 students to a 1:1 device to student ratio.

logo google, google, research

Photo by ElisaRiva on Pixabay

Slowly, I started to see the benefits of moving to Google’s Productivity Suites:

  • It was easy to move my Word Files and Powerpoints into Docs and Slides
  • Students were able to collaborate on presentations and assignments without sharing a device
  • Files were accessible from everywhere
  • Students could share their working assignments with me for some additional support, instead of needing to bring a laptop up to me for assistance.

In 2017, a colleague introduced me to Google Classrooms, and it was an absolute game changer for me as an educator. It was a way to organize assignments, grades, due dates, everything in one place. I wasn’t chasing down papers or keeping constant checklists, because everything could be submitted and tallied on the Google Classroom. In my mind, this opened up my time to focus more on the content I was teaching instead of organizing and collecting everything.

cluttered, desk, dirty

Might as well be a photo of my desk before Productivity Suites – Photo by OpenClipart-Vectors on Pixabay

That being said, this was a time when I was teaching in a community school, where many of our students did not have access to technology at home. The way we worked with this was by giving students the option to print out any unfinished work at school, and take it home to complete by hand. I needed to remember to focus on the quality of their work and not just the outward appearance.

macbook, laptop, google

Photo by 377053 on Pixabay

There is the issue of copy and pasting from the internet and claiming it as one’s own work, but I truly don’t believe this is a new thing. When we were strictly using textbooks, students always copied word-for-word from the textbook. I even remember my sixth grade teacher, Mrs. Friesen, explaining to my class back in 2002 that we needed to explain answers in our own words, and try to make connections to our own lives/previous learning to show that we truly understand something.

If anything, it is easier for me to check if students have been copy-pasting from websites. All I need to do is copy a snippet into Google and it will likely locate the source of the plagiarized information for me.

Access to Productivity Suites and online tools means that we need to look at how we are teaching and WHY we are teaching it. What base knowledge should students have, and where should we teach them how to help themselves? How can they locate trustworthy websites and sources when you can pretty much search up any answer that you want to find online? How can they give authors credit where credit is due?

Now, to something that I had truly never considered before last week’s presentation…

What is Google getting from this? According to Google Workspace for Education itself, School Divisions are indeed paying for it’s services. The Classroom Help page also states that:

Classroom doesn’t use your content for advertising

There are no ads in Google Workspace for Education Core Services, and core service data is not used for advertising purposes. Also, if ads are shown in Additional Services and you’re using your Google Workspace for Education account in K-12 (primary and secondary school), we don’t show you personalized ads, which means we don’t use information from your account or past activity to target ads. However, we may show ads based on general factors like your search query, the time of day, or the content of a page you’re reading.

However, because I have the ability to search for whatever answers I truly want to find, I can also find an article from The Verge that says “Google uses student data from Chromebooks and Google Workplace for Education ‘for its own purposes,’ which isn’t allowed under European privacy law.” The article further goes on to stay that Denmark may be phasing out Chromebooks due to this.

I don’t know what to believe or who to believe… what I want to know is what information would be collected and how is it used? I’m going to ask our Supervisor of Learning and Technology to see what I can learn from them.

To be continued…

Can You Tell Me How to Get to Sesame Street?

“…We now know that “Sesame Street” encourages children to love school only if school is like “Sesame Street.” Which is to say, we now know that “Sesame Street” undermines what the traditional idea of schooling represents.” – Neil Postman 

ernie and bert, sesame street, electric car

Photo by Kapa65 on Pixabay

Postman brought up so many great points in this article, Learning in the Age of Television. I find it so fascinating that the ideas he wrote about in 1985 are still very applicable today.

He says that Sesame Street relieved parents of the responsibility of teaching their children how to read and  lessened the guilt of leaving their children in front of the TV. (Postman, Learning in the Age of Television)

This brings up thoughts of CoComelon‘s educational nursery rhyme videos on repeat for my nieces and nephews, and Ms Rachel’s Toddler Learning Videos that successfully distract my friends’ toddlers while they prepare meals or tidy up the house. I have always feared that over-exposure to screen time at an early age had links to ADHD and emotional regulation difficulties, but if it’s educational, is it still an issue? Is it the content, or the bright colours, or the sound, or the constant scene changes that is the real problem?

I watched my sister raise her first child with a strict no-screen policy. She took it upon herself to create learning experiences for her child, and I also believe that because of this, my first niece has a lot of patience, a long attention span, and is able to entertain herself with anything readily available. That being said, she may be the exact same child now even with exposure to screen time.

television, kids, cartoons

Photo by Vika_Glitter on Pixabay

It’s my own belief that we need to find a balance to everything. If something seems too good to be true, then there is a reason why.

Audio Visual Technology has an important place in education, particularly when it comes to creating meaningful learning experiences. According to the Regeneration Music Project, “The combination of sound and visuals creates a multisensory experience that can evoke emotions, drive engagement, and leave a lasting impression. ”

  • My question to you is, if that we overdo it with the AV Technology, does it minimize these emotions, engagement, and lasting impressions mentioned in the above quote?

  • Should there be a place in education for the more “mundane” tasks, that teach our students to complete things that are not always fun but necessary as they become independent adults?

  • Does the role of AV Technology need to change based on our students? If they have constant access to audio visual technologies, do we need to bridge the gap? Isn’t that the role of schooling in the first place?

This brings me to another conversation that I have recently had with one of my colleagues, a pre-kindergarten teacher at a community school. My school division is running a play-based learning pilot program, and as a middle years teacher, it took me some time to wrap my head around. This colleague of mine made the argument that the role of school has always been to give students the learning that they are not receiving at home; in a time where students are exposed to so much screentime, they are missing out on the socialization and learning that can come from play. 

girl, bored, sleepy

Photo by Saydung89 on Pixabay

It is possible that because students have constant access to tablets, televisions and smartphones, they find audio visual technology monotonous and dull?

With the implementation of play-based learning, it seems that we are moving away from the heavy use of AV Technology in the classroom. There is, of course, a place for it in education. But that doesn’t mean that it needs to be part of everything we do in the classroom.

It is my belief that Audio Visual Technology is a great way to ENHANCE student learning, but at the end of the day, the skills that we need to teach students so that they can lead happy, successful lives include interpersonal skills, critical thinking skills, and reslilience. This is something that can’t be taught BY screens, but something that needs to come from us as educators.

I would love to hear your thoughts on the overuse of AV Tech in the classroom and play-based learning! Do you think we are going from one extreme to the other? Do you think there is a fine balance?

Peeke’s Perspective on Learning Theories

Join me on a journey as I look back at my ten years of teaching and reflect on how three different learning theories have shaped my philosophies of education.


According to Anthony William (Tony) Bates’ book Teaching in a Digital Age, “At the heart of behaviourism is the idea that certain behavioural responses become associated in a mechanistic and invariant way with specific stimuli. Thus a certain stimulus will evoke a particular response.” (Bates, 2.3.3).

I can confidently, but not proudly, say that my earliest teaching years focused heavily on this theory. My first year as an educator, The Zones of Regulation was all the rage. We were asked to have the posters hanging in our rooms so we could point to the different colours and ask our students, “What zone are you in right now? What zone should you be in? What can you do to get back to that green zone?”

traffic light, traffic, three primary colors

Just by drawing the students’ attention to these coloured posters, our questions would prompt them to calm down, and practice mindfulness to get themselves into a learning mindset.

I also spent a year trying out Class Dojo, which was very unsuccessful and short-lived. Although I enjoyed the short lessons on developing a growth mindset, the idea of having points sitting on the board for everyone to see was too distracting and frustrating for students. Very soon after beginning to use this behaviourist technique, I learned that it was counterproductive to subtract points for negative behaviour. This was embarrassing and shameful for the students that it effected, and immediately closed them off. It didn’t build a respectful relationship between myself and the students, and I have never believed in taking things away as a method to sway student behaviour.

office, notepad, whiteboard

Photo by ammcintosh1 on Pixabay

Now, what I try to do is start the year by making sure my classroom is a safe, nurturing community for students to come and feel loved and cared for. We create a class contract and spend time discussing the things that make us feel safe, and the things that allow us to learn. When we are trying something new I try to give students time to goof around and be kids.

This week, for example, we utilized Jamboard. I set aside the beginning of the lesson to make a blank board so students could hop on and play around with it… putting funny emojis and messages to each other, and trying to take over the space. When we were ready, we talked about how it can be used as a great discussion tool.

To sum up behaviourism in my teaching practice, I would say that I am trying to find a delicate balance between fostering a calm, effective learning environment and trying to gain total control over my students.


“Cognitivists believe that humans learn from thinking. They believe that we learn from our experiences and that we can change our behaviors based on new information. Knowledge is considered an internal process rather than a product.” Main, P (2022, December 09). Cognitivism Learning Theories: A teachers guide. 

As a new teacher, I can say that I didn’t practice this learning theory as much as I do now. Inquiry- Based Learning was new to me and something that seemed too big to conquer. I tried creating inquiry projects to help students reach the learning outcomes in a more meaningful way, but it took a lot of time and a lot of preparation on top of being bounced from grade to grade and starting from scratch each year. When I started teaching, there were a lot of teachers who wanted to get hired, and I took whatever I was offered with the hope of that permanent full time contract.

  • I started in Grade 7 along with Grade 5/6 prep coverage
  • Next was one month of grades 1-5 Arts Ed coverage at a French Immersion School (no, I don’t speak French)
  • The rest of that second year I was moved to Grade 2/3 in the mornings in one school, and 5-8 prep coverage in the afternoons at another (Mondays-Thursdays)
  • From there I got a grade 3 position in the mornings, and a Grade 5/6 in the afternoons at a second school (still at 80%, but this time a permanent contract!)
  • Next, I was finally able to get 100%, but 2 mornings a week I was the Music Itinerant at a second school.
  • Finally a spot opened up for me to have Grade 6 full time in one school!
  • Since then I have been bouncing between 5/6 and 6/7

With so much movement, I wasn’t willing to reinvent the wheel each year. So, what I did was keep my teaching basic. Here is the unit, these are the lessons, and at the end there will be a test which will require you to memorize the things.

So you can imagine my excitement when I learned about Genius Hour at a Middle Years Conference – meaningful learning that doesn’t require so much time on my end. It makes perfect sense… why don’t we also focus on teaching our students HOW to learn so they can continue to grow when they leave school?

Genius Hour for me was a wonderful experience when I had a class who was capable of it. My students were learning math, science, research skills, the arts, and everything in between. They were engaged, they were excited, and they loved sharing what they learned with each other! Am I doing Genius Hour this year? Nope. Will I in the future? It depends on the group of kids I have!

Considering Bloom’s Hierarchy of Learning, I felt (and still feel) that this form of learning pushed students beyond beyond remembering facts, past applying what they’ve learned, to creating their own projects and sharing those with others. 

Figure 2.4.1 Cognitive domain Image: © Atherton J S (2013) CC-NC-ND



According to Teaching in a Digital Age, “Constructivists believe that meaning or understanding is achieved by assimilating information, relating it to our existing knowledge, and cognitively processing it (in other words, thinking or reflecting on new information).” (Bates, 2.5.1)

This learning theory can also be applied through Genius Hour, but right now I see it most applied through play-based learning.

In my personal teaching, I try to practice the constructivist approach by taking advantage of situations happening to connect them to curricular outcomes and life-lessons. On one of our frigid winter days, we looked out the window and learned about sundogs… what causes them, when we can see them, and how this applied to our weather unit, light unit, or space unit in science.

In health, this looks like a group discussion on the media we consume, and how that media inadvertently shapes our ideas of what it means to be either male or female. To me, it is all about trying to get my students to look at the world more critically and find connections and places where they can better themselves and grow.

One more example of this would be in my English Language Arts program. In the past, I would borrow a novel set, and use it along with chapter questions and vocabulary words to teach.

This year I am working with my principal to do Literature Circles. What I LOVE about this is that my students are able to pick what books interest them out of 16 choices. Each book group has 3-5 members, and each week each member takes on a different role. One of my favourite roles is that of the Investigator. The job of the Investigator is to collect background information on the book to help enlighten the group. This is building curiosity in what we are reading.

For example, in this week’s group, the Investigator of the book Prisoner B-3087 shared information they found about the life of the book’s main character, Yanek Gruener. This led to a meaningful discussion about what humans are able to survive if they maintain hope. We learned about what Death Marches are, the dangerous power of hatred, and talked about why anyone would follow Adolf Hitler when his ideas were so barbaric and evil. To me, this discussion proved far more meaningful than answering basic chapter questions.

Well, that about sums it up! Thank you for sticking with me on this one. I have never sat back and thought about how much my teaching has changed over the course of my career. I am always open to learning and trying new things to better equip my students for a successful life when they leave school.