July 28

Integration of Information and Computer Technology in the Classroom Part 2: Course Reflection and Action Plan

This past year has come with a great deal of professional learning. As I navigated through my first year as a permanent teacher, I made an effort to try new things, get uncomfortable in my teaching, and integrate more technology into my teaching practice. Little did I know that COVID-19 was right around the corner, waiting to make everyone in education try new things, get uncomfortable, and use more technology. By taking the Additional Qualification course Integration of Information and Computer Technology in the Classroom Part 2, I was able to reflect on how I responded to Distance Learning, while also preparing myself for the unknown teaching climate of the near future.

A significant topic explored in the course was that of the SAMR Model. This model outlines the depth of technology integration throughout the learning opportunities provided to our students. While the purpose of this model is not to force educators to teach primarily in the Redefinition stage, it does provide a framework in which we can reflect on our own current usage of technology while thinking critically about how we can improve. 

This model also sparked some good discussions on Twitter. Some fellow educators were not so keen on the use of the model, as some schools were beginning to use it as an evaluation criteria for their staff. Others were concerned over education apps/programs being categorized into the SAMR model. Both of these situations were not the intent of the model, nor the takeaway message that I gather from learning about the model. I find that this model challenged me to analyze how I have been using technology in the classroom, made me evaluate ways in which I can take the learning opportunities further, and think about how I can foster further innovation from my students. At the end of the day, reflection on our professional practice and the learning opportunities that we provide to our students is the goal, and the SAMR model provides one opportunity for just that.

Throughout the IICT Part 2 course, we were asked to analyze, utilize, and evaluate many different tech tools. This in and of itself was a very beneficial moment of learning for me. I often find that I’ve read about or have seen other educators using different digital tools, but it takes me some time to actually take the jump and try it myself. One way that this course has helped me to branch out of my comfort zone was seeing my instructor practice what he preached! He regularly used the program Loom to provide personal and detailed feedback on the various course work that we completed. This not only made it much more engaging than a written post, but it also provided direct visuals and examples from our course colleagues. 

One way that I was able to integrate this practice into my own assignment was by using Loom to record a tutorial on how to use Tour Creator – Google VR. I had recently used this program and was prepared to write up a tutorial about how to use it, but after seeing my instructor regularly use Loom, it made much more sense to record a video tutorial. I feel as though this video tutorial was easier to follow than a written set of instructions, and it provided real-time images that would have otherwise been screenshots in a document. Beyond this assignment, I feel more comfortable using Loom and/or other screen recording softwares in my teaching instruction, especially if we return to Distance Learning. Take a peek at my tutorial for Tour Creator – Google VR below:

As partners in education, our course colleagues were able to connect and discuss many topics related to the integration of technology in the classroom. I have begun following and communicating with others on Twitter, adding them to my continually growing PLN. Through Twitter, visiting their blogs, and participating in online discussions, I have been able to see and read about many examples of ways in which technology can be used in the classroom. Above all else, this has been a significant takeaway for me, as I am not equipped with numerous ideas and activities that I can implement throughout the school year.

We were also able to connect digitally on a Google Meet! In this meeting, we were able to share our learning experiences from the various MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) that we attended. Not only was this beneficial in learning from others about their takeaways from the courses, but it also taught us about the many MOOC providers around the world. Not only are many of the courses free of charge, but some are live, others are posted after the live session, some are short and quick, others have modules that span over a few weeks… The learning opportunities are essentially in our hands and we are able to pick and choose a topic and a platform that best suits us! There is a wealth of learning available through MOOCs and PLNs, and I am excited to continue my self-directed education as I continue “learning about learning”.

One of the next steps that I hope to take to further explore my interests in technology is building upon cross-curricular ways to integrate robotics/coding into teaching practice. Sometimes, as these types of activities are typically brand new for the students coming into my Primary class, there is a lot of time spent on coding as a separate entity. My goal is to move past using “coding to code”, and finding ways in which it can be so ingrained in our learning that the focus moves towards a deeper outcome. This would allow students to continue developing their coding skills, while also connecting it to other curriculum areas (e.g., angles in Math, story animation in Language, environmental innovations in Science, etc.). This learning curve for students could be shortened by encouraging other teachers to use coding in their teaching practice and helping to guide them in their own professional learning. Students would then come to my class knowing the basics so that we can spend more time on the deeper learning tasks.

My hope is that through my professional learning gained in the Integration of Information and Computer Technology in the Classroom Part 2 Additional Qualification course, coupled with my passion for teaching with technology, I am able to further my student’s abilities to use technology effectively and efficiently in their own lives. I mean, that’s the goal of any of this, right? As an educator, I hope to provide my students with the knowledge and skills required to be the best person and member of society as they can be. In order for me to do so effectively, I must continue my own lifelong learning, gaining new insights and strategies that will directly benefit my students. And that’s just what I’ll do!

July 24

The Businesses Behind Educational Technology: Google vs. Apple

The integration of technology into our classrooms serves many beneficial purposes. From new and innovative learning opportunities, to the development of crucial competencies required when working in the 21st century, technology is becoming a requirement in the world of education. When we think of technology in the classroom, there are many different mediums that we use: desktop computers, interactive whiteboards, robotics, Chromebooks, iPads… the list goes on and on! It is interesting to dig deep and investigate the businesses behind the educational technology that we use.

When I think of the technology that I use in my classroom, as well as the technology that the school boards in my region endorse, there are two main contributors: Google and Apple. While both companies provide many educational tools for students and educators to use, they vary in their capabilities and overall scope of applications. Let’s first explore the main two products that these companies provide to assist students in their learning. 

Best Tablets for Back to School - The Online Mom

Google Image

Apple’s main product designed for educational purposes is the iPad. It is a sleek, easy-to-use tablet that even the youngest of students can quickly learn how to navigate. One of the most appealing features of the iPad is it’s touchscreen. This allows students of any age or learning stage to touch images and drag-and-drop information. Even in the upper grades, students can use apple products to create videos on a variety of Apple curated apps, such as iMovie. Just last month, I used iMovie to create our elementary school’s virtual graduation ceremony! While things may have changed in the last 10 years or so, when I was in high school, Apple products were heavily used for design type courses, such as photography, yearbook, media courses, etc. Apple has a solid product and a bunch of applications to provide a slew of learning opportunities for students.

Google Image

Google provides their Chromebook product as a versatile educational tool. Chromebooks have a common computer feel with its trackpad and keyboard, however, some models are equipped with a touch screen to bridge that gap between using a tablet and using a computer. With Chromebooks, “student accounts are linked to the individual school” or the school board, providing them with “full administrative control” (9to5Mac). This would be one of the main differences between the Chromebook and the iPad. With the Chromebook, you are able to sign into any Google account, instantly linking them to their profile and schoolwork. This means that the device is just the vessel to the learning, rather than being a single-source resource (i.e., each student needing to use their own iPad to retrieve their saved information. 

(Adapted from Brave in the Attempt)

As we compare the various products, we have to remember that there is a business behind each of these tools with a price tag associated with it. Our school boards, too, have to consider the cost of the products, which plays a large factor in determining which tools will be purchased for classroom use. In the simplest of terms, “iPads are relatively expensive devices” while “Chromebooks, in contrast, are cheap” (9to5Mac). Perhaps, in conjunction with the large amount of product capabilities and applications that Google provides, this is why Google has surpassed Apple in the realm of education devices. As of 2018 in the United States of America, “Chromebooks had 60 percent of the market share” (Digital Information World).

(Digital Information World)

While I have used both Apple and Google products in my own teaching practice, I will admit that I primarily use the Google platform. Not only are Chromebooks a solid product, but I find the Google Apps for Education (GAFE) to be of immense value for my students. Knowing that the schools boards in my area were users of Google products, I became a Google Certified Educator Level 2 before graduating from by Bachelor of Education to prepare myself with the knowledge necessary to not only use these applications properly, but to also be able to integrate them into my teaching practice.

Kansai Culture: Google Educator; Level 2 Certification

Within the classroom, I use Google apps to help with content delivery and student products, such as making presentations, answering questions, recording research, drafting narratives, etc. As COVID-19 unfolded and Distance Learning became a reality, I heavily relied on GAFE. Students are able to access their schoolwork on an infinite number of devices, whether it be a Chromebook at school or logging into their Google Account at home, due to Google’s “unlimited Drive cloud storage space” (ITC Evangelist). This made it that much easier to transition from school to home learning. The Google products available through the student’s Google Accounts are very compatible with our digital Google Classroom platform, which makes it easier to use, and be loyal to, a brand of products and it’s multitude of capabilities. For example, Google Classroom has integrated capabilities within it to create a quiz on Google Forms or attach a lecture presented on Google Slides, therefore seamlessly weaving together many of the GAFE.

As with any pedagogy, it is better to draw resources from multiple sources rather than limit the students’ exposure to one thing. With that being said, perhaps there will remain a place for both companies in the world of education. Each tool provides students with learning opportunities that prepare them with a breath of 21st Century competencies for whatever their future holds for them. Who can say whether the company that they will work for one day will use primarily Apple or Google products. Or, maybe they will work for a Microsoft company… Uh oh! Luckily, both Google and Apple have programs/processors that prepare students for that cross over (Word, PowerPoint, Excel vs. Docs, Slides, Sheets vs. Pages, Keynote, Numbers). At the end of the day, as long as we continue to discern which digital tool will help to best enhance our teaching instruction, promote engaging learning, and enrich the minds of our students, then we are doing just fine. Keep bringing on the new technology!

education technology | Substantia Mea

Goolge Image

Works Cited:

9to5Mac: https://9to5mac.com/2016/01/13/ipads-versus-chromebooks-education/

Brave in the Attempt: https://braveintheattempt.com/2018/05/13/the-big-3-in-the-classroom-apple-google-microsoft/

Digital Information World: https://www.digitalinformationworld.com/2019/03/who-is-winning-in-education-google-apple-microsoft.html

ICT Evangelist: https://ictevangelist.com/google-vs-apple-in-education/

July 29

Primary/Junior Mathematics Part 1 – Discussion Post #8

Select one manipulative and describe how it could enhance the understanding of a mathematical concept or big idea. Align the tool to a grade and suggest a hands-on task. 

Tangram is a puzzle made from 7 differently-sized shapes that, when placed in a specific order, create an image. Tangrams are a great way to reinforce themes within geometry, such as shapes, sides, angles, and vertices. Additionally, through the continued use of tangrams, students are encouraged to recognize shapes and mathematical themes in their everyday life. The different sizes, shapes, and colours add to the sensory stimulation that engages students and keeps them attended to the activity at hand.

I have seen great success in using tangrams in grades as early as kindergarten. Students can be prompted to create an object using tangrams, contributing to their spatial awareness, creativity, and problem solving. Students can also be provided with silhouettes in which they must make their tangram pieces fit. This type of activity has now be enhanced through the use of the Osmo tangram application. The Osmo uses an iPad, tangram shapes, and a mirrored lens over the iPad’s camera to create a digital game that has students align their shapes on the table into the shape displayed on the iPad. The application then takes them through levels and different tangram puzzles using the same shapes. Here’s some more information about this engaging task:

July 24

Primary/Junior Mathematics Part 1 – Discussion Post #7

Post 3 of the most important strategies or things a teacher is doing in the math classroom to support and/or create an inviting math environment. Describe and reflect on these high yield strategies.

Educators across the system are working towards creating positive, safe, and supportive learning environments in every subject matter. The Guide to Effective Instruction in Mathematics discusses the importance of developing a mathematical community, in which students can learn to support each other in their learning and build off of each other’s thinking. This is made possible when using strategies like Bansho or Number Talks. These strategies allow student to share their thought processes, while also learning from the strategies being shared by their peers. Intentionally teaching students how to be positive and respectful members of a learning community helps to add to the overall learning experience.


The using classroom resources is especially important with our new wave of teaching mathematics. Even a short 10 years ago, I was being taught mathematics in a learning environment that only used resources such as a textbook and worksheets. Nowadays, we provide experiential learning opportunities for our students in which they can touch, feel, and move throughout their learning. This involves using resources like manipulatives and technology (laptop, tablets, tools, etc.) to keep the learning engaging, while also teaching the students important 21st Century learning skills.


Structure in the form of the three-part math lesson is an important strategy when creating an inviting math environment. The area in this type of lesson that is the first to be disregarded is the consolidation, typically because the class runs out of time. By being more structured with the timing of specific types and sections of lessons, educators can ensure that the consolidation is carried out for all lessons. This allows students to share their learning, use appropriate vocabulary, discuss strategies, and learn from their peers.

July 21

Primary/Junior Mathematics Part 1 – Discussion Post #6

Feedback is often secondary to the grade or level received because it has been ingrained in the world for so long that the final grade is what counts. Educational research generally says that feedback without a mark is the most powerful for affecting change. 

How does this research impact your assessment practices? How do you use feedback to move student thinking forward? 

Even as a new teacher entering into the field of education, I have met a number of teachers who are going gradeless in their classrooms. This aligns with the educational research and their own experiences which tell them that students respond best to written or verbal feedback, rather than a letter or percentage grade. Too often, students look at the final grade and take it as the ‘be all and end all’, skipping over the descriptive feedback provided about their current performance and ways to improve. This cycle also leads students to “only want a C” or to achieve the letter grade that meets their parent’s expectations. This, however, actually takes away from the learning process in that final grades are the smallest form of feedback for students; it labels their current ability without providing ways or suggestions for improving.

The Assessment and Evaluation of Student Achievement portion of the Ontario mathematics curriculum states: “As part of assessment, teachers provide students with descriptive feedback that guides their efforts towards improvement” (Ontario Mathematics Curriculum, 2005). Education involves learning, trying, receiving feedback, and trying again. Written and/or oral feedback provides students with a personalized description of how to improve. This is why more and more teachers are moving away from overall grades and focusing on detailed feedback. However, I also acknowledge that much of our education system past the elementary grades revolves around percentages and final outcomes, especially because that determines the future of a student’s education (i.e., next course, university acceptance, etc.). I believe that it is our duty as Primary/Junior teachers to provide students with the understanding that feedback is important and that there is still something to learn when receiving feedback (learning about our process, as well as during the process).

July 17

Primary/Junior Mathematics Part 1 – Discussion Post #5

Share your thoughts on whether you agree or disagree with Marion Small’s view of success criteria and “generalizing vs particularizing” in math. 

Marion Small makes a very interesting point when she discusses generalizing vs. particularizing in her video about success criteria. Marion spoke about how some educators identify the success of their students when they use the mathematic terminology that the researchers and textbooks provide. In these cases, there is a higher emphasis on ‘particularizing’, in that the students must learn to remember the name of a strategy rather than being able to explain how a strategy was used. ‘Generalizing’ involves having the students explain what method they used and how it was effective, without hyper-focusing on terminology.

I agree with Marion Small’s view of generalizing and particularizing in math, especially as it relates to success criteria. In my own practicum placements, I facilitated math number talks and explored many strategies to solve the same equation. Personally, I found it difficult to remember the various names given to each of the strategies used (i.e., double plus one, decomposing numbers, friendly numbers, etc.). I came to the realization that if it was difficult for me to remember the terminology, it was probably difficult for my students. Additionally, I had to consider what my true success criteria were for my students during the number talks: Was it to use the proper name of the strategy used, or to utilize multiple strategies and be able to explain what they did? For my group of students, the function was more important than the lingo, and I believe my students learned more from sharing strategies with their peers than from putting names to strategies. This does not dismiss the importance of the language used in math classes, but it shifts the focus from particularizing to generalizing.

July 15

Primary/Junior Mathematics Part 1 – Discussion Post #4

What do you think will have the biggest impact on student engagement, motivation, and success in the elementary mathematics classroom?

In my opinion, the delivery of the mathematic content will have the largest impact on student engagement, motivation, and success. The best way that we can engage our students is by making the learning fun and interesting. We have a set curriculum that we must follow, so there isn’t much that we can change about what is being taught, but we can alter how it is being delivered. By using more play-based learning throughout the elementary grades, students will find consistency in how they learn mathematics while also associating a typically “difficult” subject with fun learning. It is also important that educators use visually stimulating tools to engage and motivate their students throughout their learning, including videos, books, and other texts (What Works? Research into Practice, pg. 2-3). When we are able to grasp our students attention and engage them in fun learning, students will be both intrinsically and extrinsically motivated to achieve success.


To ensure the success of all students in our elementary mathematics classrooms, we must ensure that the content being delivered is at an grade-appropriate and obtainable level. The lessons should be differentiated to meet the levels of all students in the classroom, as well as providing multiple entry points into the same learning opportunities. One thing that the Differentiating Mathematics Instruction Capacity Building Series suggests considering when differentiating our instruction are the students’ Zones of Proximal Development. This outlines the “distance between the actual developmental level” of the student and their “level of potential development” (Capacity Building Series, pg. 1). When we take this into account, we can determine where they are currently with their learning and provide them with learning opportunities that can challenge and extend this learning.

July 12

Primary/Junior Mathematics Part 1 – Discussion Post #3

Reflect on the value of problem solving and consider what makes a rich and engaging question. Discuss how important it is for students to explore and use communication in consolidating mathematical understanding through ‘math talk’.

Problem solving questions, specifically in math, provide opportunities for students to practice their learned skills in applicable and relevant situations. They challenge the students to reflect on what they have learned theoretically and apply this knowledge in practical, thought-provoking applications. It is very important that we teach students to embrace problem solving, treating it like a puzzle to be solved rather than a brick wall preventing us from achieving success. When we adequately prepare students with the tools that they need during problem solving, they come to learn that they are able to problem solve and they can achieve success. This, in turn, develops a positive disposition towards problem solving for our students.

The Guide to Effective Instruction: Grades K to 6 – Volume 2 – Problem Solving and Communication teaches us that rich and engaging problem solving questions not only teach students through problem solving  (practicing conceptual understanding), but they also teach student about problem solving by learning applicable learning skills (Guide to Effective Instruction, pg. 6). By teaching student through and about problem solving, we are able to see if the student has grasped the concept while also exploring the strategy they used throughout the process. When we are able to see both aspects, we then know that we have created a rich mathematical question. It is also important that we ensure the questions are relevant to the students by using real-world situations that are linked to their specific interests.

Conversations around problem solving help to teach students to be cognitive about their own strategies, while also being able to learn from their peers and adopt new and perhaps more efficient strategies. As Marion Small says in the video Open Questions and Contexts, “[Different strategies] enrich the conversation; it does not detract from it.” Math talks and bansho consolidation presentations are great ways to verbally explore these strategies in a whole-class setting. Other ways to communicate their thinking could be in a math journal, in which the student explains the strategies they used throughout the day’s lesson, or by creating a video/voice recording of their verbal explanations (for those students less inclined to share with the class).

July 9

Primary/Junior Mathematics Part 1 – Discussion Post #2

After spending time researching and exploring different teaching models, choose one to summarize, providing suggestions on how to incorporate this approach into your math class. Post your model along with a brief description of it and its application and usefulness in the primary/junior classroom.

Teaching Model

  • Doug Clements: Intentional Play-based Learning

Brief Description

  • Educators must stop choosing either a strictly “play-based” or strictly “academic” approach to teaching/learning mathematics
  • Extreme play-based approaches to learning, where the teacher is completely removed from the learning and the students are in full control of their play, is not the essence of the best play-based curriculum
  • Extreme academic approaches, where the students sit at desks and answer problem after problem, produce mechanical, uncreative thinkers
  • The best type of learning including all kinds of learning experiences, including both play-based and guided learning
  • Educators should prompt students and give creative challenges that develop high-caliber mathematical thinking and reasoning while the students are engaging in play-based learning

Application and Usefulness

  • Kids develop higher levels of social skills, emotional skills, and self-regulation skills when they emerge in guided play-based learning
  • Learning is enhanced when students can plan and established roles during their play, while in a guided environment
  • Need to talk about the mathematic sand development the appropriate language to convey learning, which can be further assisted by an educator guiding the engaging in the student’s play

Suggestions for Integration

  • Play-based learning should be purposeful with some pre-determined structure
  • Challenges could be presented throughout the play-based learning to encourage further extensions of learning and tier the expectations for specific groupings or individuals
  • Check-ins with students throughout the learning helps to reinforce mathematical language and develops the student’s ability to explain their processes and strategies