Month: July 2019 (page 1 of 2)

Final Blog Post

The reflective approach EDCI 515 and EDCI 568 has taken throughout this summer term, has encouraged me to synthesize and mesh together concepts and methodologies from the articles, guest speakers and have allowed me to think more critically about their connectedness. Inevitably it has been encouraging to reflect on how we view the relationships we have with research methodology and technology, as well as how they inform our teaching practice. I have found myself thinking more critically, through varied lenses and have come to recognize misconceptions I may have had about technologies place in education.

There were a lot of great research articles that we read, several resonated with me. I have selected a few articles as well as guest speakers to discuss.

We looked at the concept of digital scholarship and the effects of technology and social media. Our class discussed a paper by DeGroot & VanSlette entitled, Twitter Use and its Effects on Student Perception of Instructor Credibility. Some of the points I took away from this article have led me to think differently about how social media can be used in the student/ teacher relationship. “Informal communication with instructors can positively influence student perceptions of trust and feelings of instructor immediacy, as well as student motivation.” (DeGroot & VanSlette, p.420). This informal communication can take place outside of lecture halls and classroom settings and creates more intimate conversations that lead to possibly more meaningful conversations. The article speaks a great deal to the notion of credibility and self-disclosure. Instructor credibility is based on three factors as the article points out, “competence (subject- matter expertise), trustworthiness (character and sincerity), and caring (showing concern for students’ welfare).” DeGroot & Vanslette, P. 421). This article and discussion, got me to thinking more about teacher/ student relations and their social interactions. Many of my previous students have not felt comfortable in many of the social aspects of school, yet they may feel comfortable in front a YouTube screen or with conversing over a game. The access and use of technology shapes our behavior and leads me to question how we might use technology to improve or bridge school/ home communication? Looking at some of the societal challenges, in particular from the indigenous perspective, we are often challenged to find new supportive ways to break down walls and create opportunities for our indigenous families to enter our schools. This has long been a challenge, and despite forward thinking and the move towards reconciliation, I still see this being a huge challenge. I have previously held parent- teacher interviews at Tim Hortons, so that I could offer parents with an alternate environment to meet and discuss their student’s successes. I found this to be very insightful, as my parent participation increased exponentially. Perhaps looking at how social media can be used in a meaningful way to create greater opportunities for dialogue between students, teachers and parents will be a good starting place. In addition this idea of using social media and technology fit nicely with Dale’s presentation yesterday that looked at ways to incorporate technology to improve student and school connection and develop a greater sense of belonging.

In addition, we read Thomas Flemings article entitled Effective Schools and Best Practices: What a Literature Review Tells Us, which describes what effective teaching characteristics found during a study of successful band and public schools look like. “An ability to create a warm, accepting, and supportive learning environment; a commitment to student success that includes the belief that each student can learn; a flexibility to adapt and experiment to find optimal educational programs and methods for each student; a commitment to performance-based education and willingness to use appropriate assessment tools; an attitude of solving problems; an understanding and respect for local culture; and the involvement of parents in learning partnerships.” (Flemings, p.67).The articles fit well together in looking at effective teaching practices, as well as how technology can improve communication with parent, student and teacher relations. I see this as a turning point in terms of breaking down barriers of communication.

An additional article and discussion I found very impactful was with Dr. George Veletsianos. His talk about harassment has made me think about how our students interact in the digital world and the level of vulnerability that exists, because we don’t typically incorporate this into our everyday practice. Navigating the internet is similar to sex health education, it is often a challenge to determine how much knowledge student have coming in. Educating our youth around navigating this knowledge and recognizing both the opportunities and limitations is definitely something I will take forth and incorporate into my teaching practice.

Specifically the research article, Understanding the effects of presenter gender, video format, threading, and moderation on YouTube TED talk comments by Veletsianos, Kimmons, Larsen, Dousay and Lowenthal brought up questions of student autonomy and credibility. “Researchers have explored how anonymity online increases participation while simultaneously providing an avenue for aggression and negativity.” (Veletsianos et al., p.3). Students may find comfort in communicating behind screens, which in turn allow them to feel more empowered in sharing their views, ideas and beliefs. This may create a gateway for students to share ideas without consequence or fear, which in turn creates further opportunity for more flexible learning. I currently teach grade 3 &4 and students have access to technology that is provided by the school (laptops and Ipads), but it still speaks to the potential implications of having students participate in an online platform. I can imagine this would be a challenge at a middle or high school.  Having said this, the positive aspects seem to outweigh the negative ones.

The presentation with Shauneen Pete resonated with me as we explored the idea of reconciliation and the methodology of indigenous orality or oral histories (stories). She raised some very important points around engagement and the indigenous voice. In her article, Idle No More: Radical Indigeneity in Teacher Education, Shauneen speaks to decolonizing teaching practices. “Teaching work is framed on the tensions between “telling and growth” whereby the educator (researcher) strives to move away from transmission approaches which student’s want- “just teach us how to teach” toward a deeper and more meaningful engagement.” (Pete, p. 56). This speaks to the challenges and need for change in education, as the pendulum swings between information delivery, to free thinking, to problem based and inquiry based learning, to independent learning. Furthermore, Shauneen speaks to a culturally responsive pedagogy which, “works with the assumptions that much of mainstream education is framed on the cultural, historical, and social norms of the dominant group.” (Pete, p. 57). A shift needs to happen, when looking at incorporating indigenous knowledge more readily in our everyday teaching practice. This shift from the colonial perspective, to that of the indigenous perspective. I have definitely grown in my understanding of varied research methodologies and Shauneen presented her understanding in a way that I had not previously considered when she spoke to the burden of responsibility. This notion that it is not the responsibility of indigenous educators to teach everyone else about Canada’s history

Dr. Alex Darcy came and spoke to us from the UVIC Ethics Board. A lot of great questions were brought up during this discussion. What are the potentials for harm? And what can we put in place to mitigate such issues? This made me reflect on my project options. I am interested in exploring the barriers to implementing indigenous education across curricular subjects, especially when I look at how rich in resources my school district is. In looking at exploring Action Research vs. Reflective Teaching, the question around the potential for harm is brought to light. I was exploring the idea of a Self-Study rather than Action Research. Looking from within, identifying the challenges from within (in my own practice) opposed to looking outward. Looking at indigenous education can be a confronting place, rich with tension and the thought of looking through an outward lens feels like a western approach, routed in traditional research methods and reeking with colonialism. I am not entirely clear as to the direction that I will take, however these rich discussions provided me with lots to think about.

In addition, looking at Jesse Millers discussion on digital identity, his point made about not comparing our generation and the new generation born into technology, resonated with me. This discussion around digital identity had me think about what this looks like, at all levels of educations (elementary, middle and secondary school). The concepts of privacy and ownership and how this is ever changing.  Many schools have their own Twitter accounts and Facebook pages, so I found this discussion very informative when thinking about posting pictures of students, especially when privacy is so important.

Dr. Christine Younghusband’s discussion around building our PLN was helpful as we look forward to making connections and learning how to better manage and curate our resources. Being able to network via Twitter and looking at other platforms, will support me with connecting to others and scaffold my own learning along the way.

I am left with lots of questions to sit with, in particular I look forward to further exploring how we can further enable the use of technology in our everyday practice, and how we will inevitably make it meaningful in our teaching rather than using it for the sake of.

While we have only just begun this two-year journey, I feel that we have been exposed to a lot of very informative artifacts (research articles, guest speakers, Ed Tech resources) that we will take with use over the next two years. It has informed my practice and has given me lots to think about and reflect on. There were lots of great connections and I felt that both courses complimented each other very well.

Inquiry- Community- Privacy- Collaboration- Equity- Methodology- Innovation- Reflection- Citizenship

The courses have provided me with lots to think about over the next month and beyond and have given me a new outlook on exploring educational technology through a multitude of lenses.


Jocelyn, M. DeGroot, Valerie J. Young & Sarah H. VanSlette (2015) Twitter Use and its Effects on Student Perception of Instructor Credibility, Communication Education, 64:4, 419-437, DOI: 10.1080/03634523.2015.1014386

Veletsianos, G., Kimmons, R., Larsen, R., Dousay, T. A., & Lowenthal,P R. (2018) Public comment sentiment on educational videos: Understanding the effects of presenter gender, video format, threading and moderation on YouTube TED talk comments.PLoS ONE 13(6):e0197331

Pete S. (2017) Idle No More: Radical Indigeneity in Teacher Education. In: Pirbhai-Illich F., Pete S., Martin F. (eds) Culturally Responsive Pedagogy. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham




Ed Tech & Formative Assessment

Think about how you check for understanding in your classroom. Often, when we look at formative assessment in the classroom, we can find it to be an onerous experience. Discovering what students know, while they are still in the process of learning concepts can be a challenge. As classroom teachers we need to determine our students level of understanding, this in turn provides us with a point of reference, moving forward.

Formative assessment often happens very naturally in our classrooms as we walk around and observe student conversations or look at students work (demonstrations of learning). My interest lies in using educational technology to support formative assessment practices, which hopefully will improve the way we engage in meaningful, sustainable and current assessment methods.

We know that educational technology can improve the ability to offer formative assessment to our learners’ during our instructional processes. The use of technology can support our learners in a multitude of ways, some of which include:

  • Providing immediate feedback
  • Aim to improve and the tracking of student progress
  • Improve student learning, engagement and participation

It can be challenging to determine where students are at, and traditional assessment practices often provide us with one type of information (a single data point). We are challenged with the thought of, where to go next?

In addition we can look at the diversification in our classrooms with respects to student needs and abilities, learning styles, cultures and language barriers; we need to be as creative with our delivery of assessment opportunities as we are with our delivery of curriculum.

What problem am I hoping to address?

I think teachers often don’t feel comfortable with implementing technology in their classroom, let alone using it for assessment practices. As well, I think that many schools don’t have access to the appropriate technology, and those schools that do, don’t have training or professional development opportunities available.So I am curious to find out, what our school districts can do to address the reluctance of teachers using technology for assessment?

I was particularly interested in the article, Using Technology for Formative Assessment to Improve Students’ Learning, as the study was conducted to determine the effectiveness of using a digital classroom response system such as Plickers.

What is Plickers you ask?
Plickers is a technology based formative assessment tool, which is designed to improve students learning by making it quick and simple to check for student understanding. This tool allows teachers to collect data (on the spot) without the need for devices or pencil and paper.

For more information definitely check this out at:


The idea that using technology to facilitate formative assessment provides students with just in time, specific feedback and improves their overall performance.

The participants in this research consisted of 166 students representing grades 9-12 students. The researchers used a questionnaire consisting of 17 items related to the importance and effectiveness of using formative assessment, technology, Plickers and whether or not they would plan to use the tech in future classrooms. The researchers used a cluster sampling technique as they wanted to have students from various grades and subject areas participate.

The researchers included some open ended questions, which provided participants the opportunity to elaborate, in depth on their perceptions of using Plickers as a tool for formative assessment to improve their learning. The results and discussion of the students responses using the mean and standard deviation statistics and the responses to open-ended questions are listed below in the table.


“The qualitative material generated from open-ended questions may reveal innermost thoughts, frames of reference, emotional reactions and cultural assumptions that may or may not be accessible by other methods.” (Woike, 2007, p. 293).


Many of the emerging themes from these responses included: engagement, checking for understanding, equal opportunity to participate, excitement and fun, saving on learning time, breaking the routine, ease of use, network problem and lack or infrastructure in schools.


The Results indicate that formative assessment is enhanced by the use of technology, therefore improving student learning, increasing engagement and making learning more individualized. In addition the results of this study indicate that using an app such as Plickers provides more immediate feedback and leads to creating more effective teaching and learning. Increasing student interest ultimately leads to more effective teaching and learning and increases student participation.


Lastly, the researchers pointed out based on the results and findings this study recommends instructors to do the following:

  • Engage their students in formative assessment processes to gauge understanding and correct misconceptions
  • Reflect on their teaching activities and strategies
  • Integrate technology into their classrooms as it enhances students learning
  • Utilize new digital apps and software (such as Plickers) that aid in applying formative assessment in their classroom


Furthermore, the research article spoke to teacher reluctance to adopt technology in their teaching practice. The common theme highlighted was lack of technological support for educators.


I connected with this research article because it spoke to the importance of student engagement, while also trying to debunk some of the misconceptions people have around using technology to support formative assessment. In my current practice I find that I tend to use technology in isolation and would like to explore opportunities to think about extending my teaching practice, by incorporating the use of tech in a more cross curricular approach as well as for assessment practices.


Where to next?


I feel that we have great tech support in school district 52 (Prince Rupert), and yet I sense there is still a reluctance to fully incorporate the use of technology for assessment practices. I relate to this, and can attest to the hesitations I have had. I definitely plan to extend my thinking and challenge myself to use more technology in my classroom as well as look to use technology to support my assessment practices. So I am left to consider thinking about these questions.


How do teachers gain confidence to increase their use of technology for formative assessment?

What can school districts do to bridge the gap to ensure that technology use increases?


It seems that it should be as simple as providing technological support and training, however what does that look like? It may look very different from one district to the next.


Resources to explore:



EDCI 515: Assignment #2 A Look at Hermeneutic Phenomenology

EDCI 515: Assignment #2 A look at Hermeneutic Phenomenology  

The author of, Phenomenology of Practice: Meaning-Giving Methods in Phenomenological Research and Writing, Max van Manen was born in 1942. This Dutch-born Canadian scholar specializes in phenomenological research methods and pedagogy. He was educated as a teacher specializing in teaching English as a Second Language and later immigrated to Canada in 1967, teaching for several years in public education in Edmonton Alberta. He completed his Med in 1971 and later his PhD in 1973 at the University of Alberta. (van Manen, 2019, Biography section, para. 1).

Having immigrated to Canada in 1967, he has seen firsthand many of the challenges as well as the highlights in Canadian history. This has likely shaped his understanding, and fed both his hunger and fascination with the concept of phenomenology.

During his early studies, Max was struck by the relationships between the pedagogical approaches to education in the Netherlands as well as the strong behaviorism of North American education. His pedagogical approaches addressed the personal, relational, motivational, emotional and value-based preconditions applied to what we view as good teaching practice.

Specifically focusing on Chapter 2 in Max’ book, Phenomenology of Practice: Meaning-Giving Methods in Phenomenological Research and Writing, the concept of Hermeneutic Phenomenology is presented and discussed. This concept of “Hermeneutic Phenomenology is a method of abstemious reflection on the basic structures of the lived experience of human existence.” (Manen, 2014, p.26). The author further describes this as the “reflection on lived experiences,” a “study of meanings and insights.” (2014).

What does this really mean you might ask? Its premise is based on the concept that you have to start with a lived experience (this experience can be derived from an individual’s culture, language or past experiences). It can start with simply asking a question to capture the understanding of a lived experience. As the author states that the value of phenomenology is that, “it prioritizes how the human being experiences the world.” (Manen, 2014, p.58). The researcher needs to be open minded and present in the data collection process. We recognize that our experiences change over time, as well tell them, retell them, remember them, misremember them and relive these experiences.

Van Manen’s concept of phenomenology and developed research method that is “less procedurally driven but grounded in the rich philosophical phenomenological tradition.” (2014, p. 6). Looking at the Phenomenology as a research method includes the features below:

  • Hermeneutic Phenomenology evokes wonder and curiosity
  • The research questions explore given moments as pre reflective or lived experiences
  • The research methodology aims to focus on a phenomenon or event- an experience or moment in time (Michael van Manen & van Manen, 2014, p. 6-7)


How does HP fit into scientific research? Hermeneutic Phenomenology does not fit with primarily collecting quantitative data. The researcher needs to be aware that when describing a phenomenon as its existence can then be distorted, however there are many possibilities for evaluation, critique and assessment. Despite this, researchers need to consider that certain topics cannot be assessed or evaluated using traditional (western) research methods. A research question is attainable if the question is framed through a phenomenological lens (oriented around a lived experience). Manen explains, “The range of phenomenological meanings of our lived experiences is truly inexhaustible.” (Manen, 2014, p.35). By retelling past experiences with enriched details we evoke questions and answers, insights and further our reflective questioning.

After reading this research article I had to ask myself, how could I apply this to my own research? The concept of Hermeneutic Phenomenology can be used as an avenue for research to spark curiosity, develop inquiry or explore feelings of intrinsic motivation towards a wonder they may have. As the researcher, we have to recognize how this phenomenology works in that we are capturing a moment in time. If we try to attempt to capture a moment and define it, label it or categorize it for further analysis it is no longer considered a phenomenon.

In looking at this research method, it is important to make mention of how this data could be collected. Interviews, video diaries, conversations, anecdotal notes, audio recordings and research diaries would work well in data collection, detailing as much of the experience as possible. The researcher may look at using guiding questions to help participants frame their experiences. This method as well speaks to the use of descriptive language and how it is used in writing, as a way to construct identity and meaning from one’s personal experience.

To contrast, I looked at the article, Why Teach with PBL? Motivational Factors Underlying Middle and High School Teachers Use of Problem Based Learning, by Huei-Chen Lee & Margaret R. Blanchard. This quantitative study examined factors underlying middle and high school teachers’ choices about whether to use problem-based learning (PBL). The purpose of this study using its quantitative methods, was to investigate the differences in PBL experiences and their perceived abilities to teach with PBL, underlying motivations and decisions around implementation.

The authors collected data from survey items from 156 participants (secondary teachers). These surveys used structured questions that aimed to measured: perceived competence, autonomy, relatedness, value and cost placed on the implementation of PBL. The participants were organized by demographics and grouped into two categories (experienced with using PBL or not experienced with using PBL). The data collected, focused a lot on the demographics, as well as prevalent reasons for not using this pedagogy. The findings from this research study indicated that teachers with PBL experience felt competent and expected to succeed when implementing PBL. Not surprising those who have never taught PBL did not feel competent, thus questioning their ability to overcome issues such as students’ struggling with this pedagogy and meeting rigid state requirements. (Lee, H., & Blanchard, M.R., 2019). “Teachers with PBL and teachers without PBL experience both, recognized the costs associated with implementing this pedagogy, although the non- PBL group teachers had significantly higher levels of anxiety and concerns about the effort required for this pedagogy. (Lee, H., & Blanchard, M.R., 2019).

What would this research study look like using hermeneutic phenomenology? “Phenomenology does not necessarily have to follow the standard social science practice of empirical data gathering through interview, observation…” (van Manen, 2014). Rather than solely gathering information through surveys, face-to-face conversations would provide more meaningful data if we were looking at it through the lens of phenomenology. The researchers could also use a smaller sample size, as the descriptive experiences using this methodology would provide researchers with rich data to use in this study.

In framing questions that lend themselves to focus more on the experience of implementing PBL we need to consider asking questions that allow the participants to speak more about the experience.

Examples of questions may be:

Describe what PBL looks like to you?

What is your perspective on using PBL in the classroom?

What does PBL look like when it is used effectively? Not effectively?

Describe what motivates you to use PBL?

These types of questions lend themselves to think more about the teacher experience, which in turn provides insight on what may or may not affect their motivation to use PBL.

The questions posed in the survey don’t lend themselves to providing information about the experience that ultimately informs how they are motivated to use PBL. The participants in this study were asked to rate their use and frequency of PBL, however they aren’t reflecting on their experiences using it.  Some examples of the survey questions included focusing on what subjects they taught, what their previous teaching experience entailed and how many training or professional development opportunities they have been provided. For example, asking a question about their perceived experiences with training for PBL and then in turn their experiences of implementing PBL in their classroom, might tell us more about the work that needs to be done around training. Furthermore it might allude to the misconceptions or hesitations that teachers have around implementing PBL in their classroom.

To conclude, looking at the PBL study through the lens of van Manen’s phenomenology provides more insight into the studies participants and their experiences using PBL, as well as may tell us more about the challenges of implementing this in the classroom. Studying and investigating the differences in PBL experiences and the underlying motivations and decisions around the implementation, through this lens could tell researchers more about the experiences teachers have faced and therefor how this impacts the implementation of PBL.


Lee, H., & Blanchard, M. R. (2019).Why Teach with PBL? Motivational Factors Underlying Middle and High School Teachers’ Use of Problem- Based Learning. Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-Based Learning, 13 (I).

van Manen, M. (2003). Researching the Experience of Pedagogy. Education Canada, 42 (4), 24-27.

van Manen, M. (2014) Phenomenology of Practice: Giving Meaning and Methods in Phenomenological Research and Writing. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press.

van Manen, Michael, & van Manen, M. (2014). Phenomenology. In Encyclopedia of Educational Theory and Philosophy (Vols. 1-2, pp.611-616).

van Manen, M. (2019). Biolography. Retrieved from

Ed Camps- Hooray!

July 22nd, 2019

Today was a great first experience to Ed Camps. I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to engage in discussions around Indigenous Education.

Meeting and collaborating with colleagues with similar interests or areas of expertise made for meaningful conversation and a great opportunity to think more about what our Med projects may look like, as well as make connections for future conversations.

People were able to share some of their resources and people to follow on Twitter.

I am particularly interested in looking at how we can implement indigenous education across curricular subjects in our everyday practice. As I shared with the group, I feel like the school district that I work in (SD52) is rich with indigenous culture and the appropriate supports to ensure that we are able to see this idea fully realized, yet despite the wealth of knowledge, indigenous experts and access to incredible resources this is not the current reality.

In looking at this area, I am curious about the following questions to explore:

What are the perceived barriers?

What is the general culture of the institution? I would be really curious to see what our school staff would perceive as the obvious barriers to using indigenous education in their everyday practice.

As Christine Younghusband pointed out that changes are difficult and often met with contention as we often don’t understand the “why” in what we are doing. She also talked about the concept of reconciliation which stayed with me. This idea that we cannot fully achieve reconciliation as well as a level of empathy and understanding if we are not yet in a place of acknowledging the truth.

I look forward to exploring this topic further.







Conversations with Colin Madland

July 16th

Guest speaker, Colin Madland brought great conversation to our class last week, when he discussed indigenous education and educational technology. Engaging in our current understandings of what constitutes indigenous education, it was easy to see, with the emphasis of place-based learning and connecting to the land that there is a disconnect with online education and indigenous studies.

To follow Colin and his work around looking at indigenous and online education look up @Colinmadland

Although we discussed the use of tools which help support our understanding of indigenous education within a technological environment, it is evident that what is often missing is the relationships and dialogue.

In saying this I am curious to see why there is such a lack of informed dialogue? I think it is a challenge to engage in indigenous learning when there is a lack of communication between both settlers and the indigenous community. Non-indigenous people feel hesitant to fully engage in the indigenous curriculum, while at the same time need to recognize that they have an obligation to inform and educate themselves on this aspect of Canadian history. There has been a great deal of work done around creative curricular development to bridge the gap and engage in meaningful conversations around reconciliation and yet we still seem to be disengaged? At the same time I appreciated what both Shauneen Pete and Colin Madland said about it not being the job of indigenous people to teach about their own culture. At what point in time do we assume full responsibility and make self-study and professional development for indigenous education a priority?

When evaluating educational technology, we need to look forward at connecting relationships to space and land. When we think about the culturally rich resources, which we often have access to in our everyday classrooms; I question how this transfers to online learning? How do we make these resources accessible and how will limited access to these culturally rich artifacts effect the overall learning in online course work?

I would argue that just because you are taking online courses does not mean that you can’t be connected to space and time and the land in which you learn, work and play, but I also think that it alters the overall experience of particular areas of indigenous content areas.

I think another thing to point out is that while we don’t always get the full scope with online learning when looking at indigenous content, it encourages you to be more present and think about your own connections to the land, as well as think critically about gaining a deeper understanding of your own culture and your relationship in the world.

In thinking about Indigenous Education, here are a few additional teacher resources to consider:

I have enjoyed exploring Twitter and have come across a few additional people you may want to add to your PLN:

Bob Joseph (@wewap): Author of national bestseller 21 Things You May Not Know About The Indian Act

UBC Longhouse (@UBCLonghouse) Information about indigenous initiatives and events at UBC.

James Delorme (@James_ADelorme) First Sky Media founder, Indigenous Powered Reconciliation Through Innovation (

Lastly, some additional reading options:

Secret Path by Gord Downie & Jeff Lemire

Speaking our Truth: A Journey of Reconciliation by Monique Gray Smith

Colonizing Bodies: Aboriginal Health & Healing in British Columbia by Mary Ellen-Kelm

They Called Me Number One by Bev Sellars

Indigenous Relations: Insights, Tips, and Suggestions to Make Reconciliation a Reality by Bob Joseph

Education if People Mattered

Jeff Hopkins did a great TEDxTalk and had a great discussion with our class this week speaking to the idea that there needs to be a major shift in education. We need to shift from knowing about to knowing. This notion that we need to think about internalizing the knowledge we acquire, think about how what we learn needs to spark further curiosity and needs to give us a reason or meaning for learning it.

Often we feel the time constraints of the school calendar and provincial exams for example, that limit us from hitting the zone of proximal development for our learners. This idea that in order to achieve curiosity and further inquiry about what we are learning, we need to have the time to invest in what we are learning, not simply offer the time to transfer information from the teacher to the student. We often feel rushed due to time constraints, as a result personal inquiry and self-discovery is sacrificed.

We are shifting from the traditional formulas of what educational institutions looked like, simply pushing information on to students, hoping that some of it will sink in to how we can look at more of the larger competencies.

Jeff Hopkins spoke eloquently about proposing a new paradigm that involves organizing learning into higher level competencies, rather than checking the boxes of the prescribed learning outcomes of the past. He founded the Pacific School of Innovation and Inquiry in Victoria and spoke to his educational model of inquiry based and self-driven learning.

This model makes me think about the composition of students previously in my classes, the levels of need, the differing learning styles, the need for differentiation, adaptation/ modification, the need and benefit of outdoor learning, need for assistive technologies as well as problem based learning. It would seem that Jeff’s school model strives to meet the needs of all students and focuses on interest driven, student directed learning which addresses a multitude of learning styles and needs.

One particular example he provided us was of the students’ interest in dissecting a frog. Some enjoy learning about the dissection process, specifically the scientific process, others may focus on the art of dissection, where other students may focus on the ethics of dissecting animals (focusing on how the animals would feel).

Furthermore he spoke to the notion of ecological learning, which I had never really investigated. I found this article entitled, The Learning Ecological Framework, a worthwhile read.

What resonated most with me, was looking at the educational model itself, which focuses on flexible learning and self-regulation. There aren’t a lot of current educational models right now that support students’ needs for self-regulation. We often hear of alternative schools, or hospital home bound programs, but usually these schools have designed curriculum and lack flexibility. The fact that this school model lends itself to allow for students to have autonomy over their learning is something that our public education systems should definitely consider adopting. Deciding on topics of interest, identifying learning styles and specifically what students need to be successful (example use of assistive technology) means that students have far more choice, and in turn a lot more meaning making takes place in a student’s educational experience.

I would love to see this model adopted in my local community. Our alternate program right now strives to promote some self-directed project work and does a lot with the surrounding First Nations communities to teach living from the land, incorporating the indigenous perspective as well as promoting outdoor education across curricular subjects. It has been very successful so far, however I like the model that Jeff spoke to, in that it focuses more on inquiry and self-driven learning, which I think would be a better fit for most students. I also think that regardless of whether you are working with a student with an exceptionality or not, meaning making is so valuable. When students are able to make connections and meaning with what they are learning, it resonates with them over time. They are then able to use their critical thinking skills to view the practical applications of the skills taught. Overall I think the discussion and video was very inspiring. I would love to visit this school and see this model adopted in our current system.

First Peoples Principles of Learning

To look at the First Peoples Principles of Learning click on the link below.×17.pdf

Some thoughts on extending the principles to make the curriculum more accessible and more meaningful for all learners means that we should also consider the following:

  • Making explicit connections to social aspects of learning
  • Developing relationships
  • Look at local contexts
  • Provide opportunities for mentorship
  • Invite elders and community members to share knowledge
  • Willingness of educators to see themselves as learners to seek and develop their own understanding of indigenous knowledge
  • Understanding oral traditions
  • Use of humor
  • Providing opportunities for student voice
  • Enquire about protocols and the process of specific knowledge being shared
  • Recognize culture as a complex construct
  • Provide opportunities for flexible learning opportunities (more time, less time)
  • Create opportunities for meaningful inclusion of indigenous content and perspectives in all curricular areas

In looking at the First Peoples Principles of Learning we also recognize that incorporating these core values into our core competencies works for all students not just our indigenous learners.

Reflections from guest speaker Shauneen Pete

July 16th– Thoughts on the discussion with guest speaker Shauneen Pete

A lot of great questions arose in our discussion with guest speaker Shauneen Pete this week, many that need further thought and consideration.

Think about whether we are making race-based decisions in our everyday practice?

I think that we try sometimes to be so culturally sensitive that we miss the mark altogether. I often struggle with ensuring that I am providing the most authenticated materials, however I may be making race-based assumptions about what I think is culturally appropriate for my classroom without really having the full understanding of what constitutes culturally appropriate curriculum.

In addition, when it comes to how we develop our curriculum we also need to think about how we are setting the bar for our students. We should have the same expectations for indigenous learners as we have for all learners, however I feel this has not been the case for many indigenous learners.

Last year for part of our professional development, we read the novel They Call Me Number One by Bev Sellers. This speaks directly to this notion of educational institutions making race-based decisions.  Bev spoke in her book of often not feeling valued throughout her educational career and not feeling that she received the same treatment as non-indigenous learners. She speaks to not feeling that her teachers were confident in her abilities, did not push her and therefore this effected the level of effort she exerted during her school years.

There is a new study exploring how race influences teacher’s perceptions of their students academic abilities and the implications and findings are troubling. For more information on this article visit:

How can we enhance the learning of indigenous students to ensure their success?

At my current elementary school the indigenous population is 67%, so it is paramount that we ensure that the indigenous perspectives are heard, and also that teachers feel comfortable with the indigenous content they are expected to teach. I personally feel that often time’s teaching staff are not comfortable with the indigenous content, because they don’t feel that they have a solid understanding or don’t feel that they will do it justice. In not teaching this perspective, we are robing our students of this learning experience. I studied side by side with my students this year while teaching the crests and clans unit as part of the Social Studies component. I think we have to be willing to take risks with our own professional development. Shauneen spoke about reciprocity vs. the burden to teach, this idea that it is not up to indigenous peoples to teach settlers about the indigenous histories of Canada. She talks about the importance of dialogue as a supplement to self-study or professional development. Indigenous educators should not be burdened with the responsibility of teaching everyone else, rather contribute to reciprocal conversations with non-indigenous educators.

How do we make education accessible and create a learning environment where indigenous peoples do not feel like outliers in their own community? This notion that we need to look at the concept of intelligent indigenous labor to ensure that all people feel that they have a place in education. This makes me think about the longstanding arguments in academia, where academic orality and oral histories have not been previously considered primary resources due to the fact that they are not written down. This needs to change as much of indigenous knowledge is about the sharing of stories and experiences through dialogue and should not be devalued.

What kind of acknowledgement do we offer as a reaction to moving forward towards reconciliation?

We need to have the belief that Aboriginal people are integral to the social fabric of Canada, and that providing these educational opportunities which lead to success for Aboriginal learners are vital in education.

Lastly, I enjoyed the section in Shauneen’s article, Idle No More: Radical Indigeneity in Teacher Education that speaks to her efforts to indigenize her own curricular practice through self-study which guides her research and allows her to reflect, look at various artifacts, examine and engage in conversations about her own learning. Some of our best work, when looking at indigenizing our own curricular practice will happen through self-study and professional development. Many of us learn best through experiential learning. We gain a greater understanding and appreciation for the historic content that we are bestowed to teach, and in taking more responsibility and being open and vulnerable to it, we will see a greater connection to the content and the overall experience for our indigenous learners.

Thoughts from Kitchen Stories-July 17th

The movie Kitchen Stories and discussions around it were thought provoking and makes me think about the evolution of research methods and the sensitivity and ethics required to conduct a study. The movie, which is based on real life social experiments conducted in Sweden during the 1950’s follows a research institute which sets out to modernize the home kitchen. The research study collects information by making observations of Norwegian bachelors.

We looked at connections made between the moments of the movie that made us laugh and how research methodology looks drastically different today.

One particular example of a humorous part of the movie occurs when the telephone is ringing, however the participant (Isaac) never picks it up. The participant often just stares at the phone, watching it ring.  Later on when the observer asks the participant why he never picks up the phone, he learns it is because it is too costly. The fact that all the observer had to do was ask, lends itself to question why the research methods need to be so rigid? (expecting that the observer sit in the umpire chair and not communicate with the participants). A great deal of time could have passed in this research study, and the observer may never have come to gain the information as to why the participant never answered the phone. Engaging in communication is vital in research and this scene in the movie shows us how quickly the observer could have acquired the information.

There are a number of things we can question with regards to the methods employed in this research study.

  • How difficult is it to be objective when there are cameras placed everywhere?
  • Whose shape of reality is this study supposed to represent? The fact that they are not able to communicate with one another seems very obscure.
  • How long would it have taken researchers to reflect back and consider how unnatural and unrealistic the methods are?
  • Would this clinical research data be considered accurate and valid? There is a part in the movie where the participant becomes the observer.

There were some good connections between the movie and our discussion with the guest speaker, Shauneen Pete this week. In the movie, the observer (Isaac) mentions that he is not comfortable with being observed. He speaks to the fact that he was observed during the war. Knowing about the historical background lends itself to varying responses. This concept of allusion is clear. Those from Sweden and Norway would have a different response as opposed to those not from Europe who may miss the context. These deep relationships could affect the interactions needed for the research study.

When we look at research groups who want to observe various cultures, we have to take into consideration how they are going to feel about it, especially if the intention is to come in and simply observe as demonstrated in the movie.  Research groups may have backlash from their participants as they may be viewed as culturally insensitive.  These research methods can be easily viewed through a colonial lens, where they are not looking to engage in dialogue and meaningful relationships to establish a base line, rather impose themselves on the participants. This research approach need to be weary of the potential for harm and think about the ethical dilemmas they may incur if not coming from a more naturalistic approach.

In Shauneen Pete’s article, Idle No More: Radical Indigeneity in Teacher Education, she speaks to the concept of critical multiculturalism, which is used to help understand the structural inequalities. This concept allows us to look closely at unequal power relationships and analyze the role of institutional inequalities. Shauneen spoke about how indigenous peoples often feel like outliers in their own communities. While she was talking about indigenous people in education, if researchers are taking a similar colonial approach, they may feel like foreigners in their own community. The potential for harm is overwhelming, especially when we look at western society and its research methods, which in the video clearly did not see the importance of dialogue between the observer and the participant. This also speaks to the importance of reciprocity of information sharing. If cultural communities are not made to feel worthy of their contributions to research studies or feel that there is a lack of information sharing, the results of the study may lead to a negative response. This response may further exacerbate the structural inequalities that continue to exist between indigenous communities and the western world.

Research Diaries- Professional Applications July 3-5/19

Research Diaries- My Professional Applications

We reflect on our everyday practices all the time, thinking about what is working, what isn’t and where we should go next. This “trial and error” allows us to try out and employ a variety of methods in our classrooms, while enabling us to grow as professionals through the reflective process. This process allows us to teach to all of our students, allows us to employ varied learning strategies and differentiated teaching styles, while keeping one thing in focus- success for all learners.

I appreciated both the article, Research Diary: A Tool for Scaffolding and Teaching for Meaningful Learning. Both of these articles made me reflect a lot about my own practice and made me think about just how much reflection takes place. I think the idea of a running record in the form of a research diary would allow me to go back and think not just about what I would keep, discard or change, but also force me to reflect on the process of thinking that led me to this point. The concept of the research diary is a methodical process of evaluating, critiquing and thinking more deeply about why we make the decisions we do. In doing this I think we are able to better improve both the learners experience but also the teaching experience.

I connected with this idea that writing is thinking. We often think that if we give ourselves time to reflect that that is enough, or that we need to be clear with what we are trying to express before we put pen to paper. However in thinking about this more critically, I think keeping a record and writing down your personal reflections gives you a better idea of your entire thought process, the challenges, questions, critiques of your own practice, rather than simply making a mental note of what I would choose to repeat or change.

In terms of applying this concept to the classroom, I think there is a lot of meaningful learning that could happen in terms of a student’s learning process. It would allow them to reflect on their journey, identify areas they may find problematic, as well as think about and reflect on their own learning styles and learning needs. Using these in a classroom setting could open to door to more dialogue that may otherwise get lost, where students use this diary as an individual advocacy tool as well as a mode to provide feedback to students regarding their learning experiences.

I would definitely like to look at using a research diary with my class in the upcoming school year. I think looking at the application of a research diary with a particular subject of unit might be a useful way to start, such as for a socials or science project.

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