stumbling through computer science

Category: TIEgrad (Page 1 of 2)

Collaboration, Computer Science, and Community

Multimedia and Multiplace Based Learning

Language and culture are integrated into every subject and discipline in my school community. Students are learning the language of SENĆOŦEN, which is spoken in their surrounding communities and at home. Most are fluent, some are enrolled in the immersion program, and many only speak this language at home. The process of learning SENĆOŦEN does not happen from simply writing the words on paper; it is critical to hear, feel, and see the words in context. For example, when learning about plants and plant names, we go out onto the land and find the plant in its natural habitat. The SENĆOŦEN name for Tod Inlet is SṈITȻEȽ – which means the land of the blue grouse. To learn the name for Tod Inlet, and for its meaning to be significant, visiting the land and observing the species which interact and exist at the site creates a deeper connection and understanding to the name. If students were to only learn the name for Tod Inlet on paper in the classroom, it would merely be a name on a list that they would have to memorize later. SENĆOŦEN and the process of learning languages is a perfect example of multimedia/modal learning to effectively understand content. You cannot integrate a language into your everyday life without hearing it, writing it, and experiencing the roots of the words themselves. The Basic Principals of Multimedia Learning was significant to me and I have been able to observe this teaching practice through a First Nations lens, which also integrates the First Peoples Principals of Learning.

Games and Their Purpose

Game-based learning is integrated heavily into our remote Introduction to Computer Science course. Students are designing projects using Avatars and recreating retro games such as Snake and Pong. Designing, experimenting, creativity, and a sense of play are principals in which this course focuses around. Lots of time is given to students to explore our coding programs, play the games, and create projects which represent their interpretation of the project outline. An example is students are encouraged to play games like Roblox, Lightbot, or Minecraft on lab days to be inspired by how those games run and are designed for their own projects. SNAP! is the workspace from which students create, which in itself is a digital Makerspace. Without an objective or guidance from the instructors when students are in SNAP!, this platform wouldn’t be effective. A frontloading of information and scaffolding is necessary to show students how to create code to move their characters, build game platforms, and perform actions. This was a large topic examined in the Game-based learning article: a Makerspace is a platform for learning but it won’t provide the learning itself. What Makerspaces, such as SNAP!, allow for is scaffolded instructions to equip students with the skills to produce projects inspired by their individual creativity.

Leadership and Connection

First Peoples Principles of Learning.×17.pdf

Our proposed project will emphasize the disconnect and hesitation new teachers in terms of integrating First Nations content into their practice, whether they themselves are First Nations or not. Teaching can be an isolating field, with many resources only being pulled from the internet or ancient books found amongst bookshelves at the back of the library. Since I started at the First Nations Leardership school, it became apparent how important collaboration and the sharing of knowledge is to really understand how to incorporate these Ways of Knowing and Principals of Learning into your lessons and pedagogy.

The Role of Leadership for Information Technology aligned with these Principles in a refreshing way, as it outlined how to integrate traditional, spoken knowledge and information sharing, with digital platforms and resources. A main idea behind these Leadership principles was adaptation and collaboration. In order for the information that is being shared to be useful, it must be presented in a way which is appropriate for the audience and situation where the learning is occurring. This is a shift in approach, where teachers must now consider is the resource they are using appropriate for who and where they are teaching. A collaboration between the knowledge keepers in the community or school district to look at the resource would clarify and improve the way our resources are being used. An example of this blending of traditional knowledge and digital media that is used frequently in my practice, and will be a feature in our project, is the SENĆOŦEN first voices website. Elders and speakers from the community have contributed their words to construct a comprehensive and interactive website containing words, stories, and media to teach the understandings of groups using that language. This website could be viewed from the five guiding principals for integrating technology in schools. The main principles that it follows are one of positivity, constructiveness, and simultaneity. It is a resource which acknowledges that the preservation of language requires perseverance and resiliency; the contributors are motivated by the possibilities and future where the next generation still can speak and use their language; and the elders and knowledge keepers are active in the schools and communities, answering questions about their culture and language to keep the fire and language alive for generations.

Background Check

Pedagogical Alignment

The model which is the most useful for incorporating technology into my classroom is the TPACK model because of how the lessons are developed and planned. First, instructor decides the learning outcomes of the lesson; this is the content. The second is which activities will be used in the lesson; this is the teaching pedagogy. The third is deciding which technology, from pens and paper to smartphones and videos, will be most effective in the activity for delivering the content. This model aligns with how I currently plan my lessons, so to be able to support my teaching methods with a model is very reassuring as a new educator. As a secondary trained teacher with a degree in science, it was a requirement when being hired as a teacher that I have a strong background in science and math. When teaching in a high school setting, your background knowledge in what you are teaching is critical in order to convey higher level thinking and complex topics to older students. The TPACK model prioritizes content and background knowledge, which is what has been my priority as an educator in my pedagogical development. Using pedagogy and technology to support content delivery is the basis for the TPACK model, which is how I structure my lessons and units in my science and math classes.

Background Knowledge

When examining the TPACK model, background knowledge and a high level of understanding of the content is required to simplify and present the material to students. I can relate to this through my teachings of computer science and biology to secondary students. During the summer, I completed the Introduction to Computer Science course with Microsoft, where I learned the basics of coding, programming, and simple game development using coding software. After completing the introductory course, I attended some workshops in Java script and Python coding in order to become proficient at those programs as well. Before starting the summer training, I had no previous experience using computer coding software, and I knew that I would not be able to effectively teach my students without having some background in this topic myself. Taking the Java and Python training courses allowed me to become more advanced in the course than I will be presenting to my students. It also provided an extensive knowledge base for me to draw on while working with my students. Reflecting on the TPACK model, I would have struggled to present more complex lessons in a simplified way in the introductory course had I not done the more advanced training. The TPACK model acknowledges that in order to simplify a concept for students, the instructor must have a higher level of understanding of the content. I believe this higher level of understanding also instills confidence in the instructor and encourages teachers to take on new courses that they may not have taught before. With this Java and Python training, I was also able to assess which coding software we would be using to best support the students learning. Without this further training and increased expertise in my field, I would not have been able to effectively decide which programs or technology would be best.

Supporting Inquiry Based Learning

In the new curriculum, each subject has a large inquiry based component, where students have the opportunity to explore a topic of interest to them within the subject. With inquiry based research, topics can expand far beyond the prescribed curriculum, and advanced questions can be explored. Without a teacher who has a well-developed background knowledge of the topic, the students research areas and questions could be limited. If the teacher leading the inquiry research has an extensive background knowledge of the topic, students can explore complex questions and broader subjects because of the teachers’ expertise in the field. The pedagogical insight for leading an inquiry based unit is highlighted, and the use of technology will be properly utilized because the teacher is aware of how to lead an inquiry unit based on a topic they are familiar with. Inquiry projects are best supported using the TPACK model, because it acknowledges the necessity of having a well balanced educator in the topics of teaching pedagogy, background content, and technology.

Technological Support

The TPACK model uses technology to support the content. In order to use the technology most effectively, it is critical to have a sound understanding on what you are teaching. This model favours the well-rounded individual and backs up lifelong learning. Teachers with a sound background in biology are able to go to a professional development conference to learn about a way to present the learning using a new technology and then present the lesson with that new technology in their classroom. They are not experts in the field of biology or technology, but their interest and experience in both fields allows them to blend the two worlds together to present the information to their students. This method reflects my method of teaching because I am actively looking for ways to present my information better. I have a sound understanding in both my subject areas of science and math, and technology – but I am not an expert in any of those topics. My skills as an educator and pedagogical background in teaching young adults, mixed with this technical knowledge background enables me to assess which technology to use for each lesson based on the content and learning outcomes for the student.

The Who and The What

The students and the learning environment are large components in the TPACK method, along with the technology and content. Who you are teaching to is as important as what you are teaching. While the content you are delivering to your students may be the same, the technology and teaching styles will vary based on which students you have in your class and how they are best able to learn. An example of this is while one math class may learn best through notes from a slideshow and guided practice, another class may learn best through videos and small group activities. The learning outcomes may be identical, but the technology and pedagogy behind the delivery is different depending on which group of students are being taught and their differing learning environments.


The SAMR model appeared to be much more regimented in terms of the steps used to implement the model in your teaching. While the TPACK model functions as more as a Venn diagram, integrated model, SAMR was more of a step by step guideline for using technology in place of traditional teaching, when appropriate. Substituting technology for pen a paper, enhancing your lesson by using technology such as internet links rather than textbooks, modifying your lesson to use technology when it is more appropriate, and assessing whether or not technology would make your lesson more valuable to your students. The augmentation portion of the SAMR model aligned most with my teaching beliefs where it is important to enhance your lesson with technology where appropriate, rather than doing it to tick a box or use the technology simply because it is there. The technology needs to have a purpose, whether it be replacing another resource of inferior technology, or supporting handwritten notes to deliver content, including graphic organizers such as Prezi. Currently, using my NewRow online classroom platform to deliver and moderate my computer science course, is an example of augmenting my unit to include technology. Instead of a traditional face-to-face model of teaching physically in the classroom, I have used NewRow to allow for computer science professionals in Vancouver to deliver the course content in a much more effective way to my students. Augmenting my unit and replacing face-to-face with online instruction enhanced the quality of my lesson, and follows the SAMR model process. While both models are effective and view technology as a supplemental, not essential part of education, the wholistic integration including pedagogy, knowledge background, and technology with the TPACK model resonates the most with my teaching philosophy.

1994: The World Wide Web Was Born

Book vs e Book reader published November 16, 2012 by Frederick Deligne

Before reading the articles on the Clark-Kozma media debate, I expected Clark to completely swear of technology, and for Kozma to embrace using technology entirely. I predicted that Clark would support no technology in the classroom whatsoever, and only use paper, pencils, and direct instruction in education and learning. Kozma, on the other hand, I thought would opt for entirely online, self-directed courses, using Smartboards, videos, and mediums like digital games to connect students learning without direct in-person instruction. A debate is usually black and white, with one side opting for no technology at all, and the other supporting it entirely for all learning. What I discovered, after reading and watching supporting videos regarding the Clark-Kozma media debate, is that it wasn’t really a debate at all, but rather an elaboration and continuation of the examination of the usefulness of technology in education.

Clark presented the point that technology and media do not need to be present in order for learning to occur, and that only certain medias are more effective for certain learners, learning goals, and tasks (Clark, 1994). I agree with Clark’s point that the media and technology aren’t necessary for the learning to occur; teachers and educators must be present in some form or some point of the learning to direct the students to the correct learning outcomes. There needs to be critical assessment from the teacher to ask “is this media supporting what the learning outcomes of the student are?” The media is the vessel or portal from which the content and lesson comes from, but the media or technology platform is not the source of content or material. In order for the media to be used effectively, there has to be a source of knowledge or information that is integrated into the technology. Let’s look at a Smartboard, for example: the Smartboard alone is not what the students are using to learn; they are learning the content that the teacher or educator has loaded onto that technology which is then presented through the Smartboard media in an integrated way that is captivating and experiential. Without the effort from the teacher to load the videos, whiteboard notes, slideshow animations and content, the Smartboard alone would not be the source of learning, it would just be a blank digital screen. The merging of content and media is effective because it delivers content in a dynamic, multimedia way which is engaging to learners.

The reason I feel that this Clark-Kozma media debate is less of a debate and more of an elaboration is because Kozma seems to take Clark’s points of replaceability, and the inability to learn from media alone, and find a space that media can be effectively used, despite its shortcomings. He acknowledges that media alone won’t deliver a lesson, but he does support the idea that media can be used to deliver a dynamic, engaging platform to deliver otherwise dull or difficult content. His argument that using media is a complementary process connecting the learner, content, and technology to allow for the information to be processes in a multitude of ways, including visually, audibly, and kinaesthetically, is one that I agree with. His perspective on technology comes across as an agreement to Clark’s perceptions of the shortcomings of technology and seems to offer a solution for where technology and media can be useful in education. That being said, if I had to pick a side in this loosely defined debate, it would be with Kozma because of his practical merging of technology, media, and learning.

It has been 25 years since the Clark article was written, and a lot has changed in terms of media and technology both inside and outside of the classroom. Smartphones were an inconceivable notion of the future, and just having one computer in the entire school was deemed as high tech. Students were taught using blackboards, paper, pens, and textbooks. Teachers taught at the front of the room in a face to face manner, and once they left the classroom the only way to connect was over the telephone or waiting until class the next day. I can relate to Clark’s views on technology because given the time when this article was written, there was skepticism on the new wave technology and how it would change the world we once new. Terms like “new-age”, “revolutionary”, “the computer of the future” were being tacked on to computers, calculators, and technology programs which gave the sense that it was hokey and a gimmick. I can imagine that teachers were not receptive and unsure about spending all of the school funds just to have a computer in their classroom which may become obsolete within the year. Technology was so new in schools and educators were not largely familiar with the programs or how to use the new multimedia devices, which meant they were not being properly integrated into the classrooms and learning. Computers were seen as a fun supplement to the learning and something to use for exploration and free-time after the real learning had occurred. In 1994, the World Wide Web was invented, so it is no wonder Clark did not see a connection between technology and learning… because it was such a new idea!

Flash forward 25 years later, with over 45 billion web pages existing and everyone owning their own smartphone with endless internet access in their own hands, technology has changed quite dramatically since the release of Clark’s article. It takes a few generations for new ideas to become integrated into large social groups, and the same goes for integrating and finding useful ways for technology to become part of education.

The new BC curriculum has suggestions for technology in every subject, and courses around media design, computer science and digital literacy have been created as a response to the changing job market, and presence of technology, electronics, and media in today’s society. What was once a flashy new invention is now an everyday, completely integrated existence. While Kozma’s article was also published in 1994, his views on the integration and supportive opportunities for technology and learning apply to our education system and student needs in our schools today. I am supporting my students through an introduction to computer science course, where they are learning the basics of coding, algorithms and computer literacy. The entire course is run through an online classroom, where instructors based in Vancouver are leading the course from their offices remotely. The instructors are experts in computer science, and have developed a curriculum to support the students learning of basic computer science. From Kozma’s perspective, the online classroom is not the source of the learning, but rather the support and platform through which the learning process occurs. The use of videos, digital whiteboards, coding games, and programs like SNAP! are used to transfer the instructors knowledge of computer science and coding to the students. Without the media, this learning could not occur, or would be much less effective, because the communication of ideas and theories revolving around computer science could not be as accurately demonstrated or taught.

There are implications for the misuse of technology in the classroom. The first is with students taking advantage of the media in ways which are not productive to the learning process, such as texting on their phones or playing games on the computer when they are supposed to be using their phones or computers for research or watching a movie. Technology and media redirect the control of the teacher, and it may be harder to manage a class when the technology is being used. It is difficult to manage a course when the instructors are online and not in person, or when students are asked to watch a movie about space travel, rather than learn about it from the teacher on the board at the front of the room. Direct, face-to-face instruction, with limited supplies is the easiest teaching situation to manage in terms of staying on task and classroom management, but that isn’t what learning and education should be about. Students need to have opportunities to explore new technology, outlets for learning, and be given a chance to learn though a multitude of ways. There is a time and place for media just as much as there is a time and place for teaching a lesson at the front of the room with students using pencils and paper. In this day and age, technology has come a long way and it is important to harness its potential to support the learning of our students.

Education is such a broad subject, with many different aspects involved in learning and students. There will always be new technology, fads, and initiatives developed which claim to be the next best thing in education. These new ideas and initiatives being introduced all the time include technology, programs, methods, and curriculum. Each new idea will spark debate amongst educators, because we work in a passionate field where everyone aims to provide the best learning experience for their students. With new fads and studies coming out, debates will form over which ones work the best for students. There will be topics or tools that I will disagree with, or see as impractical, but in order to deal with conflicting opinions, it is important to keep in mind that educators will always have their students best interests in mind and that we are all working towards the same goal of creating educated citizens of the future.

Technology: Approach With Caution

Three Tech Trends That Tick the Right Box

1. SmartBoards – An Oldie, but a Goodie

Most SmartBoards in schools can either be found in the janitorial closet, the basement, or covered in posters and sticky notes at the front of the classroom. These SmartBoards, or electronic interactive overheads and whiteboards, were installed or delivered to many classes across Canada, but many ended up in storage or were out of use soon after delivery. Why? Because most teachers didn’t know how to use this technology and simply gave up trying to integrate them into their classroom routine. Why would they have a use for SmartBoards when they already have a whiteboard and an overhead or projector in their classroom? The answer: Interactive learning and seamless integration.

In my grade 6 classroom, the times I lose the attention of my class the most is during task changeovers, or when I have to switch over from technology from the projector back to the whiteboard. As I am fiddling with my HDMI cord to show a video, or becoming entangled in the projector screen cord to display the worksheet on the document camera, my students start chatting, get out of their seat, and I lost their attention entirely.

SmartBoards, with their integrated technology, reduce tech change over time from document cameras, overheads, projectors and whiteboards. Students don’t have the option to become restless or distracted, because you are no longer fiddling with cords or projector screens. Teachers can play videos right on the screen, draw with digital markers over their projected notes, or display images from the internet or draw them for the class. Interacting with your class and showing concepts in written, audio, visual, or video form is the best way to teach a lesson. SmartBoards combine all of those elements into one technology.

An additional invention that would be interesting would be a tablet where the students could interact with the SmartBoard from their desk. This would be similar to individual whiteboards, where students could show their answers or participate in activities on the board.

2. Virtual Reality (VR) – From Alien Invasions to Ancient Forest Exploration

When I took my class to the UVic Digital Scholarship Commons, we had an opportunity to check out their virtual reality room, and explore the Commons through augmented reality. Students could pick from riding a roller coaster, to shooting intergalactic space aliens in the VR room. Most of them ended their turn with a huge smile on their face… and maybe a little nauseated. Virtual reality gives classes an opportunity to explore worlds out of reach on a regular school day. From exploring an archaeological site in Ancient Greece, to a flight simulator across the Atlantic, the opportunities are endless. Virtual reality in my classroom would be great for students to explore the original territories of their relatives, take a walk with an elder through ancient forests, and visit other First Nations groups around the globe. Virtual reality allows students to explore activities and destinations beyond the scope of the physical classroom.

3. Augmented Reality (AR) – When Worlds Collide

While most technology aims to bring students outside of the classroom, whether it be delving into content on the computer screen, or exploration using virtual reality glasses, augmented reality attempts to blend the classroom and technology realms. My class uses an app called HP Reveal, where students can animate or create digital clues and videos using actual objects in the classroom. For example, a map of Canada can have QR codes which students scan with the app on their smartphones to learn more about historical events which happened in each province. Videos may play, images may appear, or audio recordings will play as the app is scanned over the QR codes printed on the map. This blending of classroom and technology is very applicable with the push for cross-curricular activities and engaging students in the classroom.

Another perk about AR and VR?

The varied price point for devices and technology. Top of the line virtual reality glasses and a laptop with a high processing speed are out of reach for most classroom budgets, and more expensive equipment means fewer devices per student. If top of the line VR glasses are not in the cards for your class, cardboard attachments for any smartphone device can be made, which work just as well! There are lots of VR apps out there, some free of charge, and can be used with these cardboard attachments.

Save your recycling! You can find a link to the cardboard VR headsets here
Where in the world are your students? You can access a wide range of VR apps, including Google Expeditions, here

Three Troublesome Technology Trends

1. Generation Z: A Bad Rap For a New Generation

The TopHat article outlining the 5 tech trends to watch in 2019, Generation Z is mentioned as being the next demographic of students. This generation comes after millennials, and have been born into the technological generation. They have never known a world without the internet, smartphones, or technology surrounding their everyday lives. The article mentions how these students will want technology and digital access in all of their lessons, and will want to be connected digitally in school and into their professional careers. They prefer watching videos over text and want digital interactions over face-to-face communication. What I have noticed in my classroom is actually the opposite; students crave face-to-face interactions, written work, and offline tasks because they are so surrounded by technology in their everyday lives. They didn’t choose to be born into a technology-centred world, it is the previous generations that have forced them to be living in the digital age.

With such an abundance of technology around, students in my class are drawn to the good old-fashioned games like checkers and cards – something they wouldn’t normally access at home. When given the choice for a free play activity, a majority of my students will opt for face-to-face games like cards over a game on the computer. I had a student who complained that there was not enough face-to-face communication among his peers and that they only communicated on their apps and phones (he then immediately went back on his phone.. but old habits die hard). There is a desire to connect with folks face-to-face and that is being lost in this generation. It is important to have a balance between hands on, technology free activities, and digital devices so that students remain connected to both worlds.

2. Personalized Devices – Quantity Over Quality

While having a class where every student has their own device would be great, this isn’t a reality for most schools. Commonly, the only schools able to afford a tablet or computer for each student are those which are privately or parentally funded. In today’s education age, technology seems to be the draw for picking which school your child will go to. If you can afford to attend a school which offers devices for every student, that would appear to be the superior school. Schools which aren’t able to offer technological incentives are often seen as less desirable. This creates a stigma between children who can’t help but notice the privileges other students at other schools have, including high tech devices. The quality of education depends on what the students are actually doing with the technology, not the simple fact that each student is offered a laptop upon arrival at school. There is a time and place for devices such as laptops and smartphones, but they aren’t crucial for receiving a quality education.

TedTalk: How to Fix a Broken Education System… Without Any More Money

Seema Bansal addresses the current problems and issues in our education system, and how technology is not always the solution…

3. Wearable Technology – a loss of people skills

Wearable technology can include a wide range of technology, from assistive speech  devices to smartwatches for each student. The first issue that is raised is the cost of providing each student in your class with a wearable piece of technology like a smartwatch. Schools which are privately funded would likely be the only schools able to afford this personalized technology. Most schools are struggling just to have enough desks and chairs for kids, let alone enough smartwatches for their students.

Another issue with wearable technology, is that teachers are using them to interact with their students during class. These watches are used to remind students to stay on task, or allow shy students to answer questions without having to speak out. It is important that teachers maintain that personal interaction between themselves and their students, which has a positive impact on classroom management. If those students acting out only receive a small buzz and a text message to their wrist, this method of keeping them on task will rapidly become ineffective. Students behave best when there is mutual respect and valuable interaction between teacher and students. Using these watches to allow shy students to answer questions will not serve them in the long run. In life, it is necessary to speak in front of a group, and the classroom should be the safest space to practice and become comfortable with speaking in front of your peers. Teacher and peer support in low-risk situations should support and develop student confidence with answering questions in class and public speaking. These wearable devices, if used incorrectly, could act as  a negative crutch for some students and hinder teacher to student relationships.

The Everest Effect: Doing Something Simply Because It’s There

The “Everest Effect” refers to the act of doing something just because you can. People climb Mount Everest, just because it’s there. The same goes for bringing new technology into your classroom. Should you bring in tablets to your classroom, just because you can? I find that with the rush of technology in our education system today, teachers are bringing in all of these new technology programs and devices just because they are offered to them, without assessing the actual educational value of these devices. Does having a laptop or tablet for each student really increase the education they are receiving? Do smartwatches really improve the behaviour of each student in the class, or are we just using these devices simply because they are there? It is critical for teachers to not assume that improved technology leads to improved instruction or learning.

Top Three Education Trends

1. Alternative seating in classrooms including stools, beanbag chairs, no furniture at all, and eliminating rows of desks
2. Twitter for teacher professional development year round
3. Global Connection Apps such as Tik Tok, SnapChat, and NewRow virtual classrooms

Holland & Holland – Acknowledging The Individual

In Holland & Holland’s article, Implications of Shifting Technology In Education, the authors address how to find a balance between the use of technology and other teaching methods. A main issue that resonated with me was the gap in technological knowledge which exists among teachers. With all of these new apps, robotics, tablets, and coding programs being released by tech companies almost daily, it is impossible for teachers to remain up to date on these new programs in order to teach their students. The importance for teachers to fully explore what technology they are using in their lessons is critical to deliver and implement these programs effectively. An example in my own classroom is my Intro to Computer Science course I am teaching this year. I spent some time in the summer completing the Intro to Computer Science curriculum and made sure that I was able to complete all of the assignments I will be delivering to my students. Holland and Holland address the gaps in student knowledge with technology, but gaps also exist in teacher knowledge as well. Before bringing any technology into your classroom, it is important that teachers are well versed and able to fully support their students learning.

It was refreshing to read this article because it effectively weaved technology, apps, and computer programs into learning styles and lesson delivery techniques. The authors explored online programs such as and Hour of Code, but also addressed how to use these programs in a variety of student exploratory methods including inquiry, problem based learning, and global learning. Rather than showcasing the technology or program as the focus of the lesson, it became a part of a larger learning exploration. An example of this was using problem based learning with the support of online programs to solve their larger group problem. In my classroom, I am looking forward to using the Hour of Code from as part of a global connection during our inquiry lesson. This way, the technology is not the centre of the learning process, but rather a part of the bigger learning picture.

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.

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