stumbling through computer science

Month: July 2019

Fostering Less Fear and Greater Confidence

Past, Present, and Future pathways of First Nations Ways of Knowing Concept Map. (CC: Hayley Atkins, 2019)

“The pedagogical challenge of Canadian education is not just reducing the distance between Eurocentric thinking and Aboriginal ways of knowing, but engaging decolonized minds and hearts.” – Battiste, M. (2002)

Teaching in the 21st Century gives educators the opportunity to extend their teaching beyond their classroom and include the global community. Classrooms should be equipped with technology to connect with professionals, educators, and knowledge keepers who may not be physically in the room. For my classroom next year, I have requested a video conferencing system and microphones for each of my students. This equipment will support computer science volunteers to instruct my students through an introduction to computer science course remotely. There will also be an option for students to complete the course with me, if they choose not to connect via the online platform. Connecting students to professionals in the growing technology industry while they are still in school will make it easier to apply for jobs, decide on a post-secondary path, and understand what opportunities exist in the field of technology. Computer skills, coding, and robotics are part of the prescribed new BC curriculum, and these topics will be explored during this computer science course. Aside from the hard skills required from the Ministry of Education, my intention of this new computer science course is to enrich the soft skills and real-life connections which are needed outside of school in the professional community. Networking, communication skills, and the ability to interact and learn from others, be it in person or online, are the soft skills which will help my students be successful after graduation and outside of school.

The students at our school do not have access to reliable internet outside of school hours. Internet and digital connectivity are an assumed right for individuals living in Canada, and our professional and education institutions have been designed around the assumption that everyone has access to internet all of the time. It is popular for schools use Google classrooms to conduct their courses, so that students can log onto their course outside of school hours to complete their projects or homework. These digital classrooms were designed as a response to the growing demand to have technology in school and reduce the issue of lost paper assignments. Where this technology falls short is for those individuals who do not have access to internet outside of school. Internet is not a right, it is a privilege; teachers need to be aware that many of their students do not have a computer at home where they can access these online platforms. A student may not have internet access due to their geographical location, economic status, cultural background, or level of family support for their learning. We cannot assume, despite which school our students attend, that they will be able to connect to internet at home. As a teacher, it is my responsibility to provide students with an opportunity to connect to the digital learning and networking community while they are in my classroom. Networking, and digital literacy are critical skills which will lead to future success for our students. Many of the jobs our students will have after graduation do not yet exist; it is our responsibility to prepare our students with technological skills to be successful in a rapidly changing global environment (Monroe, 2013).

Since the beginning of this graduate program, my perceptions of acceptable research methods and education structures have been transformed and broadened. I am learning strategies to combine my structured, Western science educated background with my current teaching position in a school which fosters culture, traditional knowledge systems, and an emotional and spiritual connection to learning.  My research project will revolve around the need for co-constructing curriculum for language and culture revitalization, drawing from community contexts to create curriculum, and teach in a way which represents all knowledge systems in BC. These knowledge systems include, but are not limited to First Nations Ways of Knowing and Western Science. I recognize that there are other forms of knowledge from other cultures and perspectives which I have yet to explore or incorporate consciously into my teaching.

Quantitative research has been my preferred method of research throughout my education. This method provides succinct, seemingly unbiased, data in a numerical form, which can be analyzed with statistics to produce a black and white solution to the question. There is a push among Western researchers to conduct quantitative research because it is perceived to be the most valid. Qualitative data encompasses interviews, story, personal connectedness, lived experience and emotions to analyze and provide insight into problems or areas of research. The data collected is not black and white, and every piece of information must be taken in the right context to understand the full meaning behind the data. While reading O’Cathain’s article on mixed methods assessment, I noticed that in order to produce meaningful qualitative research which will make a significant impact on the research community, it is common to have this qualitative data backed up by numerical findings (O’Cathain, 2010). An example of this could be a report on the most desirable neighbourhoods to live in. Researchers will conduct interviews and perspectives from the community members to produce a qualitative representation of which areas are the most desirable; this information, however, will not be as strong without accompanying numerical data such as the frequency of break-ins or proximity to hospitals to support this ranking. As a science and math teacher, I am trained to look at research from a numerical, unbiased stand-point and recognize that I am partial to data which is represented in a numerical way rather than emotion or interviews to support a claim.

A topic that is brought up frequently in educational assessment, is grading and assigning a number or letter to each student’s assignments. The common struggle for teachers is that they spend a large amount of time providing insightful comments and supportive feedback on a students work, but the only focus is the percent or letter grade attached. Students breeze over the comments and go straight to their mark. Trevor Mackenzie has adopted the guided inquiry process in his classroom, which looks at the process of student learning rather than letter grades. His issue with students only caring about what mark they get in the end resonated with me; I struggle with assigning a single letter grade to an assignment when my main focus is on the learning process of the student. How do we change our teaching practice to support the learning process rather than end result?

The new BC curriculum supports qualitative assessment, such as comments or feedback, rather than only a percent. The changing perspective is that education should be about supporting the students learning and guiding them through the learning process, and not the end product or report. The big ideas and core competencies of critical thinking, networking, community engagement and creating life long learners are now the priority for our students (

As a researcher interested in assessment strategies, it is important to look at the paths our students take after high school graduation. Universities, and other post-secondary institutions base their admissions on a student’s GPA. If students need certain grades to get into their post-secondary institution programs, then it is no wonder that all of their focus is on their numerical mark. Their future depends on the grade tacked onto the end of their work. If we want to make a change to how assessment is perceived, then there needs to be a change at the K-20 level, not just K-12. Trevor Mackenzie’s assessment includes a student digital portfolio, which he discusses with each student throughout the course. How would our assessment at the secondary level change if universities or other post-secondary institutions based their admissions on the wholistic profile of a student’s learning journey, rather than just GPA alone?

Post-secondary admission requirements may be beyond my scope of influence in education, but what I can focus on is changing educators’ perspectives on incorporating First Nations Ways of Knowing, non-quantitative knowledge system, into their teaching practice.

To understand why teachers are hesitant to include First Nations content into their teaching, I have organized my thoughts into a concept map to explore the different branches or rhizomes of each topic involved in this larger research question.
Past, Present, and Future pathways of First Nations Ways of Knowing Concept Map

Approaching research from a qualitative perspective was a difficult transition from the numerical and statistical analysis I have been used to throughout my education career. While reading about Van Manen’s phenomenological and Chambers’ métissage research approach, I was surprised at how fitting these different lenses will be to my research project (Van Manen, 2014), (Chambers, 2008). The First Nations Ways of Knowing is rooted in the 5Rs: reciprocity, respect, relevance, relationship, and responsibility (Restoule, 2018). When incorporating First Nations content into your teaching, it is important that it is done is an authentic way which is respectful and relevant to yourself and your students. Phenomenological research is based on wonder and lived-experience, which aligns with First Nations Principals of Learning. My research methods will be primarily interviews, stories, experiences, and rooted in emotion. It will be important to take into consideration the individual experiences of the people I talk to, and acknowledge the validity in the emotions that are felt. Chambers’ explanation of métissage as a research method demonstrates that research can be collected in a variety of ways including drawings, stories, emotions, and written accounts, which need to be taken into consideration as a whole in order to come to an accurate conclusion. My concept map includes the different rhizomes, or pathways, which are included in this topic. The link is included above and also the image of the map is at the beginning of this post. Broadening my view of what valid research is, incorporating emotion into my analysis, and acknowledging that people have unique lived experiences will be critical when delving into my research project and teaching as a whole.

The big question I have at this point in time is “How will my self-reflection and unconscious biases affect who I talk to, what I hear, and what I take away as important or relevant?”


Battiste, M. (2002). Indigenous knowledge and pedagogy in First Nations education: A literature review with recommendations. Prepared for the National Working Group on Education and the Minister of Indian Affairs Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC): Ottawa, ON: National Working Group on Education and the Minister of Indian Affairs Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC). Retrieved from

BC’s New Curriculum. (n.d.). Retrieved July 25, 2019, from the Government of British Columbia’s website:

Chambers, C., Hasebe-Ludt, E., Donald, D., Hurren, W., Leggo, C. & Oberg, A. (2008). 12 métissage: a research praxis. In J. G. Knowles & A. L. Cole Handbook of the arts in qualitative research: Perspectives, methodologies, examples, and issues (pp. 142-154). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc. doi: 10.4135/9781452226545.n12

First Nations Principals of Learning. (n.d). Retrieved July 25, 2019, from the First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC) website:×17.pdf

Fournier, S. and Crey, E. (1996).  Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing: The Child Welfare System.  Stolen from our embrace, (PP 81-114).  Vancouver, BC: Douglas & McIntyre. Retrieved from

Monroe, E.A, Lunney-Borden, L.Murray Orr, A., Toney, D, & Meader, J. (2013).  Decolonizing aboriginal education in the 21st century. McGill Journal of Education, 48(2), 317-337. Retrieved from

O’Cathain, A. (2010). Assessing the quality of mixed methods research: toward a comprehensive framework. In Tashakkori, A., & Teddlie, C. SAGE handbook of mixed methods in social & behavioral research (pp. 531-556). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc. doi: 10.4135/9781506335193

Tessaro, D., Restoule, J.-P., Gaviria, P., Flessa, J., Lindeman, C., & Scully-Stewart, C. (2018). The Five R’s for Indigenizing Online Learning: A Case Study of the First Nations Schools’ Principals Course (Vol. 40), 125-143. Retrieved from’s_for_Indigenizing_Online_Learning_A_Case_Study_of_the_First_Nations_Schools’_Principals_Course

Van Manen, M. (2014). Phenomenology of practice: Meaning-giving methods in phenomenological research and writing (pp. 26-71). Walnut Creek, California: Left Coast Press. Retrieved from

The Unsettled Settler


This post reflects on the article The Five R’s for Indigenizing Online Learning: A Case Study of the First Nations Schools’ Principals Course and how the reading connects to our own personal and professional experiences. We then provide an overview of our proposed research question and broader topic, problems, and our purpose in choosing this topic.

A note on terminology: Throughout this paper, we use “Indigenous Peoples in Canada” and “Indigenous” to describe the First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples in Canada.

“Our children are our future. We have a tremendous responsibility to ensure that future. The need for radical change, a complete overhaul of the education system for our people is the basis of the required change. To do this, we must look within ourselves, our communities, our nations for ‘the answers are within us.” (Kirkness, 1999, pp. 14-30)


The chosen article describes a case study of  a one-year pilot program, engaging in online learning platforms, offered to principals with the goal of becoming an accredited course from the Ontario College of Teachers. The program, titled “The First Nations Schools’ Principals Course” (FNSPC),  was offered specifically to principals of on-reserve First Nation schools across Canada. Participants included principals of on-reserve schools across Canada, and these schools were limited to those identifying as First Nations. Qualitative methods were used, specifically document analysis, surveys and interviews. Surveys were the preferred method, and involved gathering data about participant perception through online platforms. The authors first explored challenges and complexities of integrating indigenous knowledge systems into online, educational environments. They posit that due to indigenous knowledge being rooted in community, context, and the place-based nature of these experiences, traditional online environments tend to not foster these connections. The authors then offered solutions in the form of embedding the “5Rs” of indigenous knowledge — respect, relevance, relationship, responsibility, and reciprocity— as the backbone of the course pedagogy in order to address this conflict between online and First Nations learning environments.

The 5Rs “can serve as useful tools for educators going forward across a range of contexts: from those working in First Nations schools, to those designing online courses, or simply for those who are interested in Indigenizing learning environments.” (Restoule, 2018, pp. 125-143)

Defining the 5 Rs

Respect:  Respect refers to the need to recognize and respect Indigenous cultural norms and values

Reciprocity: Reciprocity should frame course design and relationships between instructor and pupil. Student voices should be actively listened to, and their needs and goals should be accommodated.

Relevance: Learning that is relevant to Indigenous culture should be based typically in community and oral communication

Responsibility:  Both the teacher and learner have a responsibility to recognize and uphold “First Nations values, practices, and ways of knowing”(Kirkness & Barnhardt, 2001, pp. 14-30). Further, personal responsibilities and relationships, such as to family members, work, or community, are acknowledged for their role in the functioning of society and the shaping of daily experiences.

Relationships: Are meant to be reciprocal on behalf of teacher and pupil, and education should foster growth of personal relationships to community. In a school setting, relationships between the students themselves also need to be fostered.

(Restoule, 2018, pp. 125-143)

Key Findings 

Online education offers enhanced accessibility and removal of geographical distances. Embedding the 5Rs not only mitigated challenges, but strengthened learning. Researchers found that the aspect of “relationships” was most successfully integrated into the online learning program. Principals commented that they had “made new connections and networks” (Restoule, 2018, pp. 14-30). Because the pilot program was deemed a success, further programs have been offered, with full enrolment and a growing waitlist. Furthermore, the application of the Five R’s will become an essential component for all First Nations schools’ principals courses going forward and is now becoming part of the accreditation requirements.


Joanna: For me, this article highlights the importance of embedding Indigenous Knowledge into my daily teaching practice. On a personal level, I have experienced online learning as a detached system accompanied by a downloadable PDF version of a course outline and accompanied readings. Assignments were emailed directly to the instructor. The layout and design was boring, I was unmotivated, and frustrated to be paying so much money for a course. I felt isolated from my peers and was unable to form meaningful connections to the instructor or my classmates. My current experience with an online learning course is the opposite: We have built a networked community by communicating in person, over video conferencing, and through audio capabilities. We have also used Whats App, Twitter and Slack to build our PLN and connect further with each other; sharing resources, relevant findings, and some very funny jokes. When I reflect on these two different experiences, I notice that EDCI 568 actively practices embedding the 5Rs into the course design. I wonder how I can successfully incorporate the 5Rs into my daily teaching practice, in order to indigenize my learning environment.

Hayley: As a teacher at a First Nations school, this article has emphasized the divide that occurs between Western education and Indigenous Knowledge systems. My undergraduate degrees are in marine Biology and Secondary Education, so I have always related learning to research reports, lectures, and analyzing data in a statistical, unbiased way. Mastering and completing an online course meant you completed assignments, followed the structured research paper outlines, and memorized the information in order to get the right answer on the tests and quizzes. In a traditional online course, there is no option to take your learning outside of the prescribed curriculum, and very few options to personalize your own learning or assignments. The most common level of personalization of the online courses I have taken included an introductory assignment, that was not usually for marks, to write a short bio about yourselves to share with other students in the course. After a year in my current school, it is clear indigenous learning is rooted in personal story, community interest, and requires conversation between people who share the roles of teacher and learner. A one-sided approach to learning, where there is a set teacher and set student role, cannot be extended to indigenous learners. I see the 5R’s as interwoven in my teaching due to the students I have in my classroom, the community in which my school is located, and the breadth of knowledge that exists from the members of my school and the surrounding community.

Research Topic

Essential Question

What are the obstacles perceived by educators when it comes to incorporating Indigenous (First Nation, Inuit, Metis) content into their practice?


The broad subject matter addressed in the project will address settler-educator set-backs involving embedding Indigenous content into their practice. This will include pre-service, established, and new teachers responsible for delivering curriculum in the classroom environment whether online, blended, or in-person. Also included in this research will be administration, schools, the ministry of education, school districts, professors in the faculty of education, and other individuals or educating bodies responsible for or influencing educational institutions and curriculum.


The problem is that there has been a call to action from the Government to include Indigenous education into the new BC curriculum. The issue that isn’t being addressed is that research suggests that teachers do not feel comfortable, authentic, or ready to incorporate this content into their practices. This could be due to their own feelings of being a settler in Canada, a lack of authentic resources, and hesitation of doing it “wrong” or offending these nations and communities. Rather than curating their own resources from their point of view, it is common to rely heavily on current Indigenous educators to be accountable for all of the knowledge and resources.

We need to do the work and gather our resources ourselves, rather than depending on Indigenous community members. In order to fully engage, we need to bring our own background knowledge into the conversation to be able to talk about deeper topics. We cannot depend on the Indigenous community to be the only keepers of knowledge; burn-out, sensitivity, and tokenism could occur if we do not do some of the research ourselves. In conversation with Shauneen Pete, she expressed her exhaustion and frustration with teachers who were not taking the time to first learn the truths of our shared history. She urges settlers to first do our own research on the topic, then come back and  engage in a critical discourse. She stresses the importance for settler-educators to form their own personal learning networks in order to talk about their fears and to make spaces that provide safe environments to express this vulnerability.


Change requires knowing the why and the how. We would like to understand how to encourage educators to incorporate Indigenous  content while acknowledging their own biases and backgrounds. To us, it seems like reciprocity is the how, and relationship is the why – each person should bring their own sources to the conversation, rather than it being a one way sharing of knowledge. Each individual has the ability to be both the teacher and the learner. Along with creating a resource bank for educators, we hope to engage in critical discourse with other settler-educators, as well as begin self-study in order to reflect upon our own biases and understand obstacles preventing settler-educators from fully engaging in this curriculum.


First People’s content is included in almost every subject in the new BC curriculum. However, many teachers are hesitant to embed this content with authentic resources. Online or outdated resources can also be a source of conflict, and can lead to feelings of self-doubt.

The resources we have compiled reflect the First Peoples Principles of Learning as well as the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, including the plea to “integrate Indigenous Knowledge and teaching methods into classrooms” and “build student capacity for intercultural understanding, empathy and mutual respect.” First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC)

Click here for a full list of resources


First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC). (n.d.). Retrieved July 22, 2019, from First Nations Education Steering Committee FNESC website:

Kirkness, V. J. (1999). Aboriginal Education in Canada: A Retrospective and a Prospective. Journal of American Indian Education39(1), 14-30. Retrieved from

Kirkness, V. J., & Barnhardt, R. (2001). First Nations and Higher Education: The Four R’s – Respect, Relevance, Reciprocity, Responsibility. Knowledge Across Cultures: A Contribution to Dialogue Among Civilizations. R. Hayoe and J. Pan. Hong Kong, Comparative Education Research Centre, The University of Hong Kong, 30(3), 1-15. Retrieved from

Tessaro, D., Restoule, J.-P., Gaviria, P., Flessa, J., Lindeman, C., & Scully-Stewart, C. (2018). The Five R’s for Indigenizing Online Learning: A Case Study of the First Nations Schools’ Principals Course (Vol. 40), 125-143. Retrieved from’s_for_Indigenizing_Online_Learning_A_Case_Study_of_the_First_Nations_Schools’_Principals_Course

Suspended Belief

The article by Van Manen examines the effects of phenomenological perspective on the interpretation and structure of our research questions and topics. Phenomenology aims to isolate the exact moment of an event or phenomenon, and interpret the meaning and significance regardless of its existence in the natural world or influence from other events in the past, present, or future (Van Manen, 2014, pp. 26-71).

Phenomenological research occurs at the beginning of the research question, before data or inquiry has begun. It is the curiosity of wanting to explore the research topic and all the avenues which it could take before the research commences. The phenomenological question involves being in the moment, and examining it through a pre-predictive and pre-reflective lens. It focuses on the experience as we are living in it, not before and not after (Van Manen, 2014, pp. 26-71).

Bracketing and phenomenological reduction suspends judgement about the physical world to focus on the analysis of the experience itself (Brann, 1970, pp. 153-155). The experience, it the exact isolated moment, must be explored and interpreted as a singular event, not part or influenced by a larger system. Bracketing does not question whether the experience is real or possible; it simply takes the phenomenon for what it is. Natural sciences are responsible for considering the probability of this event happening or not (Van Manen, 2014, pp. 26-71), (Brann, 1970, pp. 153-155).

Phenomenological research is rooted in experience, regardless of natural occurrence or existence. An example of this is the experience of walking through a forest (Van Manen, 2014, pp. 26-71). The forest walk is bracketed as the experience and the researcher/phenomenologist suspends all investigation regarding if the forest walk actually occurred. The experience, or phenomena, that has occurred, is studied and interpreted, not the objectivity or existence of the object or subject itself. Phenomenological researchers are not concerned if the experience happened or if the object is real; they simply look at the meaning and significance of the event from the user’s perspective (Molina, 2017, pp 77-94).

In phenomenological research, empirical subjectivity, which are observations based on logic and existence, is disregarded. Transcendental subjectivity, focusing on the spiritual, experiential, and subjective experiences of each individual, is valued instead (Brann, 1970, pp. 153-155). An example is two people drinking a cup of hot coffee. They both know what a cup of hot coffee tastes like, but their lived experience will be different in the exact moment they sip. This is because their interpretation of that sip will be influenced by different lived experiences and reaction to the coffee. Empirical evidence will show the experience of drinking this cup of coffee will be the same because of objective observations: two people drinking the exact same cup of coffee will lead to identical results. From a transcendental perspective, these two people will have different experiences based on their backgrounds, mental processing, and emotional past which will lead to a completely different experience during the bracketed moment they are drinking the cup of coffee. Phenomenology is concerned with those isolated moments of experience, regardless of quantitative observations, or objective experience. It isolates the exact moment of the event regardless of context of the past, present, or future (Molina, 2017, pp. 77-94), (Van Manen, 2014, pp. 26-71).

Phenomenology develops theories around the event before it has occurred or been placed into context. While phenomenology is based on examining the experience or phenomenon from an individual’s perspective, regardless of the plausibility of the event in the natural world, grounded research looks at events from the opposite angle. Grounded theory arose from sociologists wanting to explore sociological research from a different angle, and give researchers a method of moving from data points to theories, rather than theories to data. Interpreting data after the event has occurred, and taking context into consideration, allows for new theories to develop and our understanding of events to broaden (Wiesche, 2017, pp. 685-701). Context, pretext, and background knowledge are included when analyzing events from a grounded theory approach, which leads to each theory or interpretation being specific to the context in which they developed and were studied (Buckley, 2019, pp. 965-989). The theories are ‘grounded’ in the data to give a more contextual interpretation of the event. The interpretation takes in the holistic view of the situation and event, rather than isolating and bracketing like in phenomenology. Grounded theory holds the natural world and the objectivity of the situation in high regard, and the plausibility of the findings actually being able to occur is considered (Wiesche, 2017, pp. 685-701). Grounded theory develops conclusions, findings, and ideas using the context of the research, which enables new ideas, perspectives, and contextualized theories to emerge (Bryant, 2002).

In the article by Thornberg, a field study involving school bullying and sense of belonging was examined with a grounded theory approach. 144 students and seven teachers from seven school classes in three Swedish public primary schools participated in a grounded research study to gather data on why bullying occurs and how it affects the students’ group dynamic. Ethnographic research was conducted, where the researcher spent four to six months with each class. Observations of interactions between peers, and between the pupils and teachers, and informal conversations and interviews of the pupils and teachers were the qualitative data that was collected. Field notes and audio transcripts were used to assess short term and long term bullying occurrences. This information was then transcribed into numerical data to record the number of bullying cases and the length of occurrence. This quantitative data was used in conjunction with the qualitative interviews to assess the cause and frequency of bullying. The author then correlated the frequency of bullying to how each student felt about their place, friendships, and sense of belonging at school. When analyzing the data, it was clear there was a strong correlation between the increased frequency and duration of bullying and a decreased sense of belonging in the school community. The author stressed how the theoretical understanding of bullying and a student’s sense of belonging cannot be confined to an individual event or factor. There are multiple factors in the socio-economic framework of school which impact how students are treated on a day-to-day basis. Grounded research and theory is necessary to take into account the multitude of issues relating to bullying. This includes racism, classism, heteronormativity, and a range of other oppressions students have (Thornberg, 2018, pp. 144-158).

If bullying and a student’s feeling of belonging at school were examined from a phenomenological approach, the results would be much different and likely difficult to understand without environmental context. Phenomenological research examines the event or phenomenon exactly as it occurs to that individual, without any outside context or explanation. If a student was yelled at by another student, and they experienced that yelling with a sense of violence, hurt, and betrayal, then that moment would be interpreted as a form of bullying on that individual if it was looked at from a phenomenological lens. Phenomenology is rooted in the act of suspending judgement regarding the true nature of reality; it is a neutralization of belief (Van Manen, 2014, pp. 26-71). This suspension of context becomes difficult, as it is nearly impossible, as humans, to ignore this belief of due to our unconscious subjectivity in every thought or experience we have (Brann, 1970, pp. 153-155). The individual experienced this yelling, felt a negative emotion of bullying, and therefore it will be recorded as an event of bullying. Whether or not this yelling happened in the natural world on the playground from a person intending to hurt the feelings of this person is irrelevant. All that is being focussed on is what the individual experienced and perceived. Where issues would arise is if we wanted to examine what was said, why it was hurtful, who the other student was, and if accusations of bullying are being laid upon another person, did this event actually happen? From a phenomenological perspective, these pieces of information do not matter; context and natural occurrence are not included in analysis. It only matters that this individual perceived they were being yelled at, interpreted this as negative, and therefore this was a case of bullying. We would then derive our theory of the causes of bullying to be from individuals feeling they are yelled at, record the types of emotions they felt, and would include these feelings as effects of bullying on peers in school. Bullying cannot be interpreted as individual events and actions without background context. Human emotions and interactions are complex and require context, motivation, and flexibility based on how each person reacts to each interaction. If we only looked at the immediate phenomenon of the bullying act, we would miss out on recognizing common issues in society such as gender norms, racism, homophobia, and judgement. Without the larger picture, including past, present and future context, we will be unable to identify causes, solutions and preventions for bullying at school and on a global scale (Thornberg, 2018, pp. 144-158).


Brann, H. W., & Institute for Scientific Co-operation (1970). Kant’s theory of subjectivity. A systematic analysis of the relation of transcendental and empirical subjectivity in his theoretical philosophy. Philosophy and History, 3(2), 153-155. doi:10.5840/philhist19703264

Bryant, A. (2002). Grounding systems research: Re-establishing grounded theory. Paper presented at the 3446-3455. doi:10.1109/HICSS.2002.994383

Buckley, J. B. (2019). A grounded theory of education for sustainability in the postsecondary classroom. The Review of Higher Education, 42(3), 965-989. doi:10.1353/rhe.2019.0026

Molina, E. (2017). Kant’s Conception of the Subject. CR: The New Centennial Review, 17(2), 77-94. doi:10.14321/crnewcentrevi.17.2.0077

Thornberg, R., Utbildningsvetenskap, Pedagogik och didaktik, Linköpings universitet, & Institutionen för beteendevetenskap och lärande. (2018). School bullying and fitting into the peer landscape: A grounded theory field study. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 39(1), 144-158. doi:10.1080/01425692.2017.1330680

Van Manen, M. (2014). Phenomenology of practice: Meaning-giving methods in phenomenological research and writing (pp. 26-71). Walnut Creek, California: Left Coast Press. Retrieved from

Wiesche, M., Jurisch, M. C., Yetton, P. W., Krcmar, H., City of Munich, Deaken University, & Technische Universität München. (2017). Grounded theory methodology in information systems research. MIS Quarterly, 41(3), 685-701. doi:10.25300/MISQ/2017/41.3.02

It’s Only A Matter of Time…

Kitchen Stories is about a research project studying men in the kitchen, which becomes interwoven with layers beyond research involving relationships, wider communities, human interactions, cultural backgrounds, and teaching. This movie examines the complexity of human interactions, and demonstrates how conversations are necessary between the researcher and researched in order to fully comprehend what is being studied.

The Reader/Viewer

This movie is based around the centre of many homes: the kitchen. Family kitchens are an important room for human interaction, bringing together people for conversation, eating, stories, and homework. Of all the rooms in the house, the kitchen is arguably the central room for bringing people together. As the reader/watcher, having the main story happen in the kitchen, it was easy to bring my feelings and experiences of this room into my views of the story. I knew immediately that there would be emotional and personal issues involved in the story because that is what the kitchen meant to me growing up. It was the place where I discussed my hopes and dreams of a career with my parents, had hard conversations in my teenage years, and spent lots of time with my brother loading and unloading the dishwasher. As a reader/viewer, it is impossible to remove context, emotion, and conversation out of any research conducted on human behaviour. As I watched Folke crawl up into that high umpire chair in the corner of the kitchen, and sit silently, I knew that the issue of conversation, context, and qualitative research would be a main theme of the movie.

The Researcher

The observer, or researcher, Folke, in the film tries to maintain a sense of neutrality throughout the film. Unbiased, unemotional, and non-judgemental attitudes are critical when conducting quantitative research. You are merely there to collect data based on what you see, and the numbers will reveal the result, not your opinion. The umpire chair reflected this neutrality, as well as refraining from having conversations with Isak regarding his activities in the house. Folke was determined to follow the scientific method of observation, and only collect data based on what he observed from an outside point of view. Folke is directed to collect data based on Isak’s movements in the kitchen and is not required to consider Isak’s context, history, or circumstances. Folke has been trained in the scientific way and was collecting data as a neutral observer, free from personal bias, opinion, or conversation. He is also directed to restrict his observations only to the kitchen and record only the activities that happen in that room. As the story goes on, Folke finds it increasingly difficult to refrain from satisfying his curiosity of Isak’s actions, and struggles to maintain a neutral, unbiased, observer point of view. A turning point from quantitative, unbiased data collection from Folke occurs when he asks Isak why he never answers the phone when it rings. From observation, numerical data collection and quantitative observation, the answer remains a mystery; but from a simple qualitative conversation, he learns the truth behind Isak’s friendship and reason for letting the phone continue to ring – it was too expensive to answer. The researcher, Folke, is trained as an observer to maintain a stance of neutrality and objectivity. The researcher is to remain unbiased and separate from the researched. This is the main idea behind scientific research; observe as closely as you can while remaining separate from your subjects.

The Researched

Kitchen Stories revolves around the idea that research can be conducted in a sterile and “hands-off” fashion… or so we think. Folke begins the story as the researcher, but quickly becomes the researched when Isak’s curiosity of the man in the umpire chair becomes too much. Each person makes sense of our own world and the experiences of others from the foundation of our own experience. It is impossible to be neutral observers. Scientific research implies that the subjects being researched are not going to be impacted by the act of being observed. This is not the case in the film, as Isak quickly switches his role of observed to observer when he begins to spy on Folke through a hole in the floor. Neutrality and one-sided observations prove to be impossible, as the two men begin to increasingly interact with each other, from sharing food to full on conversations about Isak’s past and reasons for not answering the ringing telephone. As the reader/viewer, I felt emotional about the developing relationship between the men.

The Research

The story of Folke and Isak represents the challenges of conducting purely quantitative data, and also supports the validity and need for qualitative research and data to fully understand the context and depth of the subject being studied. How could data collected on the interactions, behaviours, and activities of humans be purely numerical, when humans themselves are complex creatures with history and personal stories? The movie represented the process of involvement that evolves during qualitative data collection, and the necessity for interaction and conversation between the researcher and researched in order to fully understand the meaning of the topic being studied. Folke accepts that he cannot keep his research to the kitchen alone, and realizes that he needs to ask about Isak’s point-of-view, history, and background in order to fully understand his subject and research question. Isak realizes that he is unable to ignore Folke in his large umpire chair and becomes curious about interacting and studying Folke himself. Through their kitchen dialogue, the two men gain deeper understanding of each other’s experiences and lives. As the story of these two men evolves, the viewer becomes aware of the rich layering that is part and parcel of qualitative research.

All Talk, All Action

This blog post stemmed from a conversation with Jeff Hopkins, the founder of the Pacific School of Innovation and Inquiry (PSII).

PSII Homepage


The Un-Learning Process

“Educational Quote: “Albert Einstein says…”” by Ken Whytock is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Below are my thoughts on the student transition from public school to PSII.


PSII’s core values encompass a very learner centred learning area such as Open Inquiry, Emergent Curriculum, Learning Happens Everywhere, Learning vs. Learning About, and Co-Construction of learning.

Questions for Jeff and the students at PSII

During our chat, a few thoughts came up that I would like to ask Jeff, students at PSII, or other teachers at the school.

  1. What made you decide to come to PSII? (this would be for the student)
  2. What are common paths your students take after graduation? Are there any unique paths students have taken as a result of going to PSII?
  3. What challenges do students face switching from the public school system to PSII? Challenges if they switch back to public?
  4. What level of parental support is expected for students? How to do you respond to little or no parental interest in their child’s learning?
  5. Is there a limit to tapping into free mentor support and how do you check for reliability of mentor? Does it compromise the value of education and teachers?
  6. Do you have or have you had any First Nations teachers? Students? How do you incorporate or encourage the incorporation of First Nations values / ways of knowing into students’ projects?
  7. Could a remote access student or teacher attend or teach at PSII?

 How to bring inquiry and collaboration into my classroom

 PSII values collaboration, cross-curricular, and cross-grade projects and learning; this is why the school limits the number of students each year. A smaller class size allows for more personalized learning and for students to work together in a meaningful way inside and outside of school. Throughout our conversation with Jeff, he stressed that this model isn’t very effective in public schools because of a larger student body.

This got me thinking – if we can’t change the number of students in our schools, could we change our classroom layout to increase student interaction and small group conversation?

Reimagining Classrooms: Teachers as Learners and Students as Leaders | Kayla Delzer | TEDxFargo

Why do some classrooms look the same now as they did 70 years ago? In this passionate talk, second grade teacher Kayla Delzer speaks about her mission to revitalize learning and the classroom environment.

Classroom layout

Your classroom design and layout should have a positive impact on student learning, performance, and collaboration while helping to reduce anxiety of being in a group setting. An ideal classroom should offer private spaces for individual work, and group spaces for conversation and collaboration. 

“The purpose of a design is to facilitate and enhance the enactment, continuance, and completion of activities appropriate to the setting the design exemplifies…”

“Classroom layouts should work towards enhancing the enactment, continuation, and completion of activities to reach specific educational goals.” 

(Amedeo, D., 2003) Source

Throughout the years, classroom layouts have changed very little, whereas the office space has been completely redesigned in the past quarter-century. Many offices offer private meeting rooms, hang-out areas with ping pong tables or snacks, and large collaborative space with video conferencing facilities. We have made adaptations for the changing business world, but what changes have we made in our classrooms? 

Classic Classroom Configurations


The traditional row and column style with all seats facing the front lends itself to ‘sit-and-listen teaching.’


Clusters work best for group work, where students share tasks and cooperate.


In a Socratic Seminar, students help one another understand the ideas, issues, and values reflected in a text through a group discussion format.

A Dynamic Classroom for All Types of Learning

The ideal classroom gives space for all types of learning. There should be group space to collaborate, private areas for individual work, large workspaces for projects and hands-on learning, and an array of seating, lighting, and spaces for students to work. It is important for each teacher to think about who they are teaching, what they are teaching, and how to arrange their classroom to meets their teaching needs.

This may may sound like a large list of requirements, but below I have designed a classroom layout which fits all of these needs.

There are group tables for collaboration, an area with computers, and lots of seating for individual work. Rugs, beanbag chairs, tables, chairs, desks, the floor, or in a cubby in the bookshelf are all work spaces the students can choose. A large kidney shaped table is ideal for hands-on activities as well as tables which can be rearranged for larger workspaces. A projector and TV allow for video conferencing between students and other people in the global community, as well as enough computers for each student. Lots of natural light and direct access to the outdoors helps students feel connected to their natural environment as well.

The Ideal Classroom Layout (CC: Hayley Atkins, 2019)

It is useful to think about how we would design our ideal classrooms, and how to best arrange each classroom to meet the needs of students and teachers. 

‘The teacher’s educational philosophy will be reflected in the layout of the classroom. The teacher should be able to justify the arrangement of desks and chairs on the basis of certain educational goals. There is no ideal classroom layout for all activities.’  (Sommer, 1977)

Questions to ponder…

When was the last time you looked at your classroom layout from a student perspective?

Do you regularly check if everyone can see and hear properly?

Does the learning activity dictate the seating arrangement in your classroom? Do you change your layout according to different activities or at different times of the year?

Can you justify your choice of classroom seating arrangement on the basis of educational goals?

Here are the main factors you should consider in your classroom in terms of layout:

  • Seating
  • Place(s) of instruction 
  • Technology
  • Storage
  • Decor/Displays
  • Flexibility 
  • Size

In reality, teachers face issues of:

  • Budget
  • Custodial Agreement 
  • Sharing room(s) with other teachers 
  • Safety 
  • Individual student needs

Resources related to classroom layout and active learning

#activemath on Twitter

Interesting EdChat conversation about classroom layouts

Mr. Meyer’s Interactive Math Lessons

The top 10 benefits of a flexible classroom

The Chair Free Classroom

The Flexible Classroom

21st Century Classrooms May Remind you of Starbucks

Action Based Learning Research


Lost in Translation

A large part of my teaching pedagogy involves incorporating First Nations views into my lesson plans, activities, and learning outcomes.

When I was in my PDPP education program, we had an Indigenous Education course that included history, curriculum, and current practices of First Nations ways of knowing. Overall, it is a wholistic view that knowledge should come from people, places, and things and can be from a historical, current, natural, supernatural, spiritual, or scientific background. An example of this is using myths and origin stories to explain natural phenomena such as earthquakes and mountain formations. This knowledge and knowledge keeping is embedded with the notion that information and history is best remembered in a story form, with meaning, emotion, and context.

Western science and knowledge is routed in facts, hypothesis, tests, and data which can be collected in experiments, recorded in textbooks, and studied by anyone who has access to these papers and texts. This data is studied out of written textbooks and papers, which can be compared to the First Nations knowledge which is largely verbal and passed down through sharing circles, ceremony, and conversations between people and communities.

There has been a large push from First Nations researchers to have the validity of their science and ways of knowing acknowledged by the Western World, in order for progress to be made in understanding the world today. It is common for Western Science to dominate our field, with quantitative research, structured experiments, and widely distributed papers; it is no wonder that Western Science is seen as the more valid, and right, way of knowing.

As the Reader

While reading the paper Understanding and Describing Quantitative Data, I focused my reader lens on how this type of research could be transferred to First Nations knowledge and science. Is quantitative information on First Nations knowledge restricted because of the method that information is shared? Respect, conversation, oral sharing, and reciprocity are values carried through when sharing knowledge in First Nations communities. Sharing ideas in exchange for hearing someone else’s is common, and is how culture is maintained in First Nations groups. It is difficult to collect quantitative data when their knowledge is spoken, passed on through song, told through stories, not written in books, or recorded on a numerical scale. As the reader, when most scientific papers focus on quantitative data, and believe it to be the best way of recording findings and information, I can’t help but think about all of the other information that will be lost or unexplored when the qualitative lens or First Nations oral tradition is excluded. How can these interviews, stories, and songs be converted into quantitative information without the value of the ideas and thoughts being compromised? It is similar to taking a photograph on film, copying it to your computer, transferring it onto a hard drive, and then posting it to Facebook or Instagram. While it is relatively the same photograph, the quality of the photo has been lost. If we continue to favour converting our findings to quantitative data, then First Nations knowledge and its quality will be diminished over time. It is important, as the reader, to recognize the prevalent bias in our Western society that Western Science, and research methodologies, are seen as “better” and more credible than other ways of knowing.

The Researcher

Cathy Lewin, the author of this paper, has research and education that includes education technology, digital pedagogy, and innovation. Most of their (I am using the term “their” not in the plural sense, but more as a gender neutral term) articles are centred around including more technology in schools, innovations in education with tech, and explore education from a European perspective. Her thorough, straightforward, universal outline for conducting quantitative research plays very well into the structure of Western Science. As a researcher with a deep sense and recognition of Western Science, I believe they are in strong favour of quantitative methodology being the most sound approach for research, compared to qualitative or First Nations ways of knowing. With her research being based in the UK, out of the Manchester Metropolitan University, it would be easy to access information supporting quantitative research, and Western Science, because First Nations culture and communities are not common in their region.

The Research

The research provides a clear framework for conducting, analyzing, and reporting on an area of study and collecting data that is quantitative, easily documented, and clearly measured. When conducting a study where you would like to analyze your results correctly, it would be tempting to use this quantitative method because it provides a clear guideline and methods to analyze the validity of your findings. The quality of your data and research can be numerically measured through statistics including P-values, lines of best fit, and probability. If the data that is being collected is numerical, and quantifiable, then this method is desirable. If your research involves emotion, differing opinions, conversations, and unwritten historical data, then there can be errors which occur when this information is translated into numbers and quantities.

The Researched

The research and quantitative methods model was used in a UK study to gather information on topics such as shoe size and cigarette consumption. This data is easy to gather, measure, and record using numbers. These numbers can be then inserted into statistical programming to display commonalities, trends, and other information about the UK population. The paper did not go into detail on how to collect non-numerical and qualitative information such as opinions, interviews, or emotional connectedness. The examples used to describe the quantitative process were unemotional, required only one type of numerical information, and was easily translated and statistically analyzed. This method and scaffolding is very useful for individuals collected quantitative information.

What Next?

In BC, First Nations knowledge and ways of knowing are gaining respect and validity in the lens of science and research. I can see that there is a change in perspective, and that Western Science is soon going to meld with other ways of knowing. I am curious to explore effective ways of translating interviews, stories, songs, and other qualitative information into quantitative data without losing the quality and perspective that information has.

Cellphones: Here to Stay. 

This blog post stems from our discussion of Digital Literacy in the 21st Century with Jessie Miller of Mediated Reality.

(Twitter: @MediatedReality) (Website:

All or Nothing

In September 2018, Central Middle School banned the use of cellphones on school property. Students were asked to leave their devices at home, and if they brought their cellphones to school the devices would be confiscated. During my teaching program, we visited Central Middle School, and I was delighted to see how progressive and tech-forward this school was; I couldn’t wait to apply for a practicum there with the hopes of working there once I graduated. To me, this was a forward thinking, tech-embracing, 3D printing, laptop-using middle school who was ahead of the curve for progressive education. Which is why, when this announcement was made about the cellphone ban, I was shocked. What could be so bad about cellphones that they aren’t even allowed on school property?

The principal of Central expressed that the staff felt there was very little – if not any – educational benefit of students having cell phones in their hands at school.

Central Middle School’s Cell Phone Ban Article

This ban led to me to think about the pros and cons of cellphone use in the classroom. This can’t be a black and white issue. Surely, we can find a way to embrace these devices and incorporate their uses into our lessons and teaching practice?

While many parents allow children free rein of the internet at home, it’s a common debate in education circles on how—and if—digital devices should be allowed at school. Supporters of technology in the classroom say that using laptops, tablets, and cellphones in the classroom can keep students engaged. Technology is what they know. Most students today don’t even remember a time without the internet. But critics say it’s yet another distraction in the classroom. From social media to texting, allowing digital devices could hinder a student’s performance in the classroom.

Mobile devices in education, from the students perspective.

Pros of Cellphones in the Classroom

Cons of Cellphones in the Classroom

Negative health impacts of screen time in adolescents article mentioned in the recording above.

Check out this TedTalk about the negative effects that screen time, at any age, can have on our overall happiness:

Communication is Key

In my classroom, I struggle to keep students off of their cellphones. I use techniques like giving them “the look”, standing next to them while they are texting, or blatantly calling them out in class for using their phones. Usually, they respond with an eye roll, a sassy remark, but then put it back into their pocket or facedown on their desk. My classroom policy for cellphones is that the students are allowed to have their phones facedown on their desk, with their music on shuffle. If they  need to look at their phones, it is only to change music quickly. They know that if they are waiting for a text or call from their parent/guardian, their best bet to avoid having their phone taken away is to let me know why they need their phone that day. Open communication is key for me – if there is something going on in your life that you need your phone for, let me know and I am happy to let you keep an eye out for those messages.

No cellphone jails in my classroom! (Hayley Atkins, 2019)

Jails, Boxes, Shoe Racks…

I have seen other classrooms and schools create cellphone jails, boxes of shame, cellphone cubbies, or even just a tub where phones are to be dumped before class starts. You can check some of them out in the link below:

Cell Phone Jail and Other Classroom Tips

I would not want to be responsible for all of these expensive devices, use class time to collect all of the phones, or have to communicate with parents/guardians who may disagree with this “cellphone jail”. For me, building relationships, trust, and communication with the students around my expectations for cellphones is how I manage cellphone use in my class.

Twitter: @ddmeyer


Cellphones are here to stay, and the more schools try to fight it, the more difficult it will be to get students off of their screens and back into the classroom. There is a place in school for cellphones, but if digital devices are permitted, there should be guidelines and rules in place.

Digital literacy and digital citizenship should become part of the new BC curriculum. Right now, the only place I see where it can fit is into Computer Science, Career Education, and ADST? I would be curious to start an EdChat on Twitter regarding where these issues could fit…

There are lots of resources for teaching the concepts of digital literacy / citizenship. The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) has comprehensive standards for students to be successful in the digital world. A resource I would recommend trying in your class is a digital citizenship game developed by ISTE and Google called Interland. This games shows kids how to manage their digital footprint and avoid hackers, phishers, oversharers, and bullies online!

If the students are going to become digitally aware and literate, it is important that the administration and staff become tech-literate as well. In order to incorporate digital literacy/citizenship in the classroom, teachers need proper support in training, professional development, and curriculum implementation. I believe most teachers want their students to be safer online, but are quite busy with the other demands in their classroom to really follow through with developing their own lessons around this topic. For busy teachers, like myself, a great place to start for curriculum and Pro-D resources is Common Sense Media. To effectively use the resources on this website, it is important that teachers take the time to collaborate, plan, and create a meaningful lesson about digital devices in their classroom – this would be a great Pro-D day topic!

Digital devices are great learning tools to embrace our ever changing, increasingly online world. In the classroom, devices are utilized best when there are specific goals for their use, focusing on student online safety, digital citizenship, and critical thinking.

I would like to explore the comparison between cellphone use in gym / sports and in the typical classroom. Would changing your classroom layout and activities reduce screen time and temptation? Is there a place for Movement Based Learning in the math classroom? Also a great #BCEdChat topic..

5 Useful Blogs, #s, and @s

Twitter – It’s a big expansive place, with lots of resources, but who has the time to sort through it all?

Here are a few useful #s, @s, and blogs to help you get started.

5 #s:






What’s missing? I am still on the hunt for a First Nations Education Chat… 

5 @s:






5 Blogs:

Resources for new CS Teachers 


The New Value of Education

Admittance: At What Cost?

When it comes to student access, High Tech High took a stand and opened their doors to those students who are classified as being the lowest on the education and economic scale. A school that looks like a top of the line, “Google-esq” establishment, is actually a free public school. The school’s selected students are those who come from rough backgrounds and low-income areas. This helps to reduce the barrier of attending progressive “tech” schools which would normally only be attended by wealthy students from upper class neighbourhoods and backgrounds.

Google Office… or High Tech High Classroom? “” by Marcin Wichary is licensed under CC BY 2.0

As the reader/viewer of this video, I raise a few issues of selecting students only based on their parents’ income:
  • Why should it be based on the salary of parents, when these children who may benefit from attending High Tech high are now not able to attend because they come from a higher income family? Reducing a barrier for those of lower income actually creates a barrier for others.
  • It is common for those higher income families to want their child to be successful in school, no matter what cost. Some wealthy parents are willing to pay for whatever tutoring, laptops, or learning aids their child may need so that they can achieve As and be accepted into their alma matter. While their grades may reflect success, many of these students may not have learned very much because of this sheltered system. What they show in book smarts, they lack in street smarts and perseverance. I wonder who would deliver more grit? A student who has only known how to use the support of others, or the student who has never been able to afford a tutor? It would be interesting to compare the success of each type of student at High Tech High.

As a teacher, we need to think critically and holistically about who our students are and what their backgrounds are. We can’t assume that the students who come from wealthy families are going to be inherently successful. While in the same thought, we can’t assume that the students who come from less-wealthy families will come with grit and determination. I understand that economic status is a common and efficient way to categorize people, but I would be curious if there is another way to assess which students would truly benefit from attending High Tech High.

As the researcher/creator of High Tech High, the main issues this school aims to address are those of social inequality and social differentiation. Social inequality is the unequal distribution of resources within a society. Social differentiation is the idea that people can be categorized based on characteristics including race, income, education and geography. Social differentiation is a key for fuelling social inequality; who you are and where you are from can have a large impact on the privileges that you have. High Tech High is focussing on limiting the social inequality that income and wealth can have on the accessibility to fair and open education, and ultimately lifelong success.

Influence for this analysis came from:

Power Privilege and Oppression – Graduate School of Social Work -DU Licensed under CC

Does Sacrifice Equal Dedication?

Teachers at High Tech High are hired based on subject need and specialization; their contracts expire each year and they are paid less than the average American teacher. As a reader/watcher of this video, I applaud these teachers and have respect for their passion as educators. They are willing to sacrifice their job stability and have a lower wage because they are committed to the work that High Tech High is aiming to accomplish. The teachers see themselves as part of the greater good, rather than how they are being treated individually. As a reader/watcher, I can admit to myself that I would not be comfortable with this uncertainty – but does this mean that I am not as dedicated a teacher? The research does acknowledge this feeling of uncertainty these teachers feel, but its main objective of creating a project-based-learning and needs based school justifies this feeling of professional insecurity.

Behind the Scenes

High Tech High uses a completely self-directed, unstructured approach to learning, which enables full student autonomy. There are no standardized tests, and projects are used to “grade” and assess student learning.

From the researchers point of view, this is a progressive new model focusing on the shortcomings of the traditional way of learning and testing. The researcher highlights how standardized tests can be inaccurate, cater towards one style of learner, and do not reflect a learner’s overall profile. This researcher’s view would correlate strongly with the reading “Teaching for Meaningful Learning,” where Dr. Barron and Darling-Hammond argue that the focus of learning and education should be about knowledge growth for the individual and collective group. From a reader/watcher’s point of view, High Tech High’s unstructured learning approach emphasizes engagement and collaboration to develop collective knowledge. What I noticed is that the content and background knowledge on robotics, woodworking, or other skills needed for these projects, was not included in this film or part of the “researched” content. This challenged my belief and comfort level of a teacher that students need to have the core skills and content to be able to take this project based learning into their own hands and apply these skills to larger ideas and into a broader context. An example of this from High Tech High, is how did the students know how to physically build the large cog wheel, if the teacher did not explicitly show them how to in a traditional way? Was there direct instruction happening between the students and teacher behind the scenes? I wonder if the researcher decided to not focus on the traditional note-taking or direct instruction that may happen at points throughout the day, and instead emphasize the project based learning that happens after those instructions.

Social Butterfly vs. Wallflower

Walking through the hallways of High Tech High, it is easy to get carried away looking at the artwork, robots, and other visually intriguing projects that fill the halls. It was fascinating to watch the students painstakingly piece together the intricate cog, or set up the best lighting system to showcase their play, but is this just an illusion of the success of project based learning? It is no wonder that project based learning gets showcased in social media more, because it is a more interesting process of learning to the audience/reader. People are more interested in watching a class build a robot battle arena then watch them master complex algebraic equations – but which group is learning more? Is the flashier learning more valuable than the intrinsic problem solving?

A “Boring” Perspective of Learning “Home Work” by Sam & Sophie Images is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0


Flashy, “Social Media” worthy learning! “P1030079” by __andrew is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

In my own classroom, I am hesitant to post on Facebook the “boring” photos of students completing math worksheets, or solving word problems, because I fear I will be labelled the “boring” math teacher. I know that these worksheets are building foundational skills of fractions, long division and algebraic equations so that we can then work on projects dealing with slope and velocity of racecar tracks. Why am I only showcasing the flashy work at the end rather than celebrating the internal process that happens before those projects can even develop?

These thoughts about flashy vs. unflashy lessons and work lead me to want to explore the perception of Project Based Learning from the teachers point of view when it comes to the amount of lesson planning and effort it takes to teach in this way…  Can Project Based Learning Lead to Lazy Teaching? Another blog post to come!

This blog post explores the documentary, Most Likely to Succeed and related readings, Why Minimal Guidance During Instruction Does Not Work: An Analysis of the Failure of Constructivist, Discovery, Problem-Based, Experiential, and Inquiry-Based Teaching by Paul A. Kirschner, John Sweller  & Richard E. Clark (2010), Teaching for Meaningful Learning by Dr. Barron & Darling-Hammond, StanfordU, and 

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