Category Archives: Google Apps For Education

Day 3 and 4: Interactions, Applications, and Considerations

So many ideas surrounding the virtual world have been presented in the last two days that it is difficult to give all of them the attention they deserve.  It is very apparent to me that those responsible for arranging the activities and lectures for the course, primarily (almost) Dr. Kyle Stooshnov, have chosen the A-Team of Virtual Reality knowledge keepers to share with us.

Some notable quotes:

“With VR, you either win or lose quite badly.” ~Michelle Knight,  Pound and Grain Digital Creative Agency

“Don’t create VR for the sake of VR. Create with purpose.” ~Michelle Knight

“The future is not a screen you can touch.” ~Meehae Song

“You don’t need somebody to teach you about gravity.” ~Stoo Sepp

Littering YouTube with 360 video that is without purpose is a grand waste of space and time. Having just completed my first 360 video with my group mates, it takes a heap of effort to pull a video off, as an amateur. Although we tried our best, I am sorry to say that it will not be showing at the Cannes Film Festival. The video was not long but it did take a lot of planning and editing.  As with many forms of technology, the troubleshooting process is real and non-trivial. In my opinion, 360-video is not quite ready for prime time, due to the challenges it can present, from start to finish.  Thankfully, taking a 360 still image is relatively easy, and over the last two days, I have learned a few ways to make use of “360 Junior”.

Warning: As these cameras come down in price, the more crappy video will be coming down the shoot. Prepare to be crapped on, YouTube!

Meehae Song may be one of the most creative and brilliant people that I have met in recent times. Her projects were absolutely incredible . To name a couple…

  1. The Digital Heritage Project: she has reproduced heritage buildings in VR that have been put on the wrecking ball list.
  2. Bioresponsive VR: utilising wearable technology that used to assist people with epilepsy, she can monitor breathing and heart rates as viewers are immersed in VR.  Using a treadmill, participants can stroll through a “Virtual Meditative Walk”…

Virtual Meditative Walk from Meehae Song on Vimeo.

Stoo Sepp also stepped into our class on both days.  He is someone that you can’t help but want to be around.  The kind of person that knows the right thing to say at the right time (if this academia thing doesn’t pan out for him, he may wish to consider a television career!) I very much appreciated learning about Google Street View and Google Tour creator applications of VR.  Both of these have grade school applications for any subject matter. (And for what it is worth, Stoo, I spend a heap of time teaching kids about gravity, haha!!!)

Lastly, on Day 4, we were treated to a talk by Dr. Sandrine Han. Specializing in visual culture, her talk helped us understand the difference between cultural appreciation and cultural appropriation within digital contexts, specifically within Second Life.  I was blown away by her choice of presentation methodology. Sandrine could have easily lectured about this topic, but instead, she created a story between two characters in the Second Life world. Within the story, the learning was weaved throughout. While she spoke, images from the Second Life landscapes were shown.

I felt like I was in the presence of greatness!

Not only was the content so incredibly important, but she opened my eyes to the power of alternative forms of pedagogy. Not everyone in the class felt the same way as I. Perhaps a little more explanation prior to the story commencing may have helped people earlier on in the half hour long presentation.  But then again, figuring out where the purpose of the story, without being told directly, was part of my heightened amazement.

And one last quote:

“I’m a ghost! Now, I’m not a ghost.” he said whispily. Kyle Stooshnov, July 11, 2018

I am not sure what piece of cheese or cloth Dr. Stooshnov has been cut from, but it has been delightful being in his presence this week. He’s got game!


As this week ends, and my 10th MET course is almost behind me, I am in a state of disbelief that I have made it through.  It has being a very difficult 3.75 years for me and for my family.  Having said this, I am also going to greatly miss being in these heightened states of amazement.  IN ETEC 521, I recall writing, “The more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know.” I am not sure how I will be able to recapture these moments when MET is complete. I will need to find a way.


Filed under EDUC 490V, educational apps & programs, Google Apps For Education, Technology & culture, Virtual Reality

Situating my GAFE conference presentation within the Third Space

I think my name tag sums up the heap of my emotions as I entered the conference location yesterday. People making their name tags beside me were disappointed that only the “negative” emoji stickers were left on the table, whereas I went directly for them.  I also got the special “presenter” sticker… placing it upside down was intentional.  (“Imposter Syndrome”, perhaps? My inner-bitch can sometimes morph into my inner-coward. Thankfully, I’ve got some great cognitive therapy tricks kicking around my brain from my post-partum days.)

Experienced presenters told me that for them, presenting at a staff meeting was more difficult than at a GAFE conference, but that is most definitely not where I was at.  My school is my second home and the people I work with are my second family. When I am surrounded by these wonderful people, I have no issues sharing whatever it is I have to share. If I crap the bed in front of them, they will help me find new sheets.  Last week, when I presented at school, I was still very sick and started by saying that I needed to sit down because I was feeling a bit faint.  Bryn quickly lept out of his seat to say that he would spot me and so I would land safely should I go down! He literally had my back.

I had a laundry list of worries heading into the GAFE conference:

  • Would my technology work?
  • Would anyone show up?
  • Would the people who did show up, take anything of value away with them?
  • Would I be able to overcome my extreme case of nerves so that my witty, fun side would be able to come out?
  • Would people get up and leave?
  • Would I have enough material?
  • Would people participate in the activities I had planned? (Would they roll their eyes?)
  • Would I mess up the traditional territory acknowledgement?
  • Would I be able to share my newly acquired knowledge from ETEC 521 in an authentic, meaningful way? 

My presentation was titled: Collaboration in the Math and Science Classroom: A Blended Approach. 

Essentially, I drew on everything I have learned from my entire MET (Masters in Educational Technology) experience. For example, how could I not invite Vygotsky to this presentation??? He is one of the forefathers of collaboration within learning environments! Part of me thinks that a learning theory essay that does not, at the very least, mention him, should automatically be graded lower.

But then, why stop at Vygotsky?  Let’s go back even farther in time and acknowledge Indigenous cultures, shall we?

At this very moment, I should be writing my final paper for ETEC 521 where I am searching for ways to create a non-oppressive, academic math classroom that incorporates Indigenous worldviews.  I was not sure if 5 people were going to come to my presentation or 55 people, but what I did know, was that everyone who did show, was going to be a high school or middle school math/science teacher.  THIS WAS MY CHANCE TO GIVE MY COLLEAGUES AN ALTERNATIVE WORLDVIEW TO CONSIDER.  So I went for it!

I began by talking about my own insecurities as a non-Indigenous educator who has been tasked to incorporate Indigenous culture into her lessons.  I talked about not wanting to simply exchange the word “boat” for “canoe”, in a couple of word problems. I talked about the importance of making mistakes in front of our students so that they would be less fearful of taking their own risks in front of their peers and teacher. Then, I turned to Dr. Lee Brown’s message. In Dr. Marker’s interview, around the 12 minute, 50 second mark, Dr. Brown talks about the Indigenous learner who has been raised to believe that “together, we are stronger”.  That by looking at someone’s work, is not cheating; it is learning. That in Indigenous culture, there are no straight lines; only curves.   (Unfortunately, I do not have permission to show this interview on this post. For those readers who are not in ETEC 521, I feel like it is important to share Dr. Brown’s general message somehow. Here is some more information about his passion: emotional health and wellbeing.)

Although I have barely begun my paper, my main conclusion is going to be that by incorporating Indigenous worldviews into our teaching practice, ALL of our learners will benefit, through maintenance of their own emotional health.  When we utilize collaborative pedagogies, we are actually utilizing an Indigenous worldview!  As Dr. Marker described in our ETEC 521 course, different worldviews can simultaneously be maintained and honoured, whilst also have a space where they overlap, as in a Venn Diagram:


Looking at the sketch I just drew, I honestly think that there is more overlap in our classrooms already.  We simply are not labelling and/or being as mindful of the pedagogies that we are doing that celebrate our cross-cultural similarities.  Going forward, this must change.  We must use better language surrounding Indigenous worldviews and to do that, we must learn more about what these worldviews are. We also must believe in the value of Indigenous worldviews. Honestly, this is the easiest step, as far as I am concerned, as Indigenous worldviews promote interconnectedness, emotional wellness, and the building of one’s identity. Sign. Me. Up!!!

In conveying this message at the GAFE conference, I truly hope that I did the message justice. I won’t ever know for certain, but at least I went for it.  I would not have been able to even attempt to share this knowledge had it not been for the ETEC 521.

Once I finished discussing the affordances of a collaborative classroom, my first collaboration activity was the Snowball Fight, which I discovered in a resource that my classmate and Belmont High School teacher, Paul Waterlander shared with me a few weeks ago.  If anyone is interested, it is a free, downloadable PDF, “First Peoples Math 8 & 9”. Here is how my first Snowball Fight “went down” last week:

If anyone is interested, I ended up not passing out and/or completely dropping the ball on my presentation due to a few factors.

  • I repeatedly told my inner-coward to shut up. It was OK that I didn’t have humorously timed slides or pre-made jokes to tell.  It was OK that I wasn’t “Google Certified” and that “Crazy Certified” is also beneficial.
  • I gave myself a 1 hour time out.  I basically hid and ate free food before my presentation. During that time, I sat by myself and gave the presentation to myself (for the fourth time…).
  • I went to my presentation room as soon as the previous presenter was done. I talked to him to see if he had had any tech issues.  I shared how nervous I was, and his advice was very comforting.
  • I chatted with people as they came in.  Introduced myself and asked people to talk about themselves. Some people, I have known for YEARS came in, triggering both happiness and additional anxiety.  One teacher came right up to me and introduced himself as Josh Elston, a fellow MET student.  We have been in a couple of courses together, as well!  That was so great meeting a classmate, face-to-face for the first time! 
  • Although I stumbled a bit on the acknowledgement, I got it out. It took about 5 minutes for me to relax into the presentation, but what one super nice teacher did, was to go into “teacher mode” and reassure me that this was a safe place and not to worry.  I really appreciated her calming words. She was my hero at that point.

In the end, the entire process not only drained me, it challenged me and it then filled me.  It really drove home the importance of challenging our students within their Zones of Proximal Development (#VgotskyIsInTheHouse!), as I was in my Zone!

I must thank everyone who came to my presentation, as I would not have made it through without their support, kindness, and willingness to learn about new pedagogies. Thank you to my inner circles who sent me such encouraging words.  Thank you to this lady who I have been admiring from afar for years:

It really is unquestionably true: Together we are stronger.


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Filed under anxiety, collaboration, ETEC 521, Google Apps For Education, Indigenous culture, Mathematics education, Uncategorized

Unpacking my GT

“Good Technology” (GT) in my view, teaches or reinforces learning outcomes.  GT is engaging, and is not merely screen time for the sake of screen time. GT allows opportunities for student to reflect (privately or publicly) on their process and the process of others. GT is simple and or simplifies processes (sometimes, a whiteboard or a piece of paper is still the best technology for a situation!). GT sometimes provides students with opportunities to construct their own knowledge, yet in other times allows educators to be that guiding light. Slowly but surely, I have been using digital technology as a pedagogical tool that enhances the learning experience for both myself and my students.

  1. Google Classroom
    • I post copies of notes, tutorial videos, questions to the class, and assignments that utilize GAFE.
  2. Google Docs
    • All my labs are done on Docs.
    • Lab partners work collaboratively on one lab.
    • I provide feedback in the comments, as the students are writing their labs.
  3. Google Slideshows
    • Every project I assign, must be uploaded to a Google Slideshow, where students are required to reflect on their process.
    • One document to open for assessment, instead of 30, is a huge bonus.
  4. Desmos, Phet, The Universe and More
    • Three online reinforcement programs that often gamify the learning process, but at the very least, animate the learning process.
  5. Class Blogs
    • Students are responsible to scribe 2 -3 times per course
    • Class announcements, summaries/tutorials of lessons

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Filed under collaboration, ETEC 533, Google Apps For Education, Student Blogging

New Year, New Course, New ?

So what is the “New ?” all about?

I added that in because although I am not entirely sure where my path this semester is heading, what I do know is that it will take me to new realizations and approaches to both my own learning and how I teach.

It is quite remarkable to reflect on one’s viewpoints and opinions 1.5+ decades into teaching, then to begin a Masters, then to reflect on those same perspectives, halfway through that Masters. This is my introduction video for my second course. It is actually a bit shocking for me to watch this, as it glaringly emphasizes my lack of experience and knowledge in the world of EdTech.  The word “constructivist” wasn’t even part of my vocabulary at this point!

Whereas here is my introduction Prezi for ETEC 533.  It is not nearly as detailed as the video, but my goals at the back end are very true.

I came into MET armed with physical technology and nothing more.  Halfway through, I have now spent countless hours thinking about how to actually use technology beyond digitizing more traditional teaching approaches.  Perhaps the most significant shift in my teaching has come through the adoption of Google Classroom and its affordances. The collaborative nature of Google Docs, Google Slides, Google Drawings, etc. has allowed me to change or turf many of my assignments and some of my lessons. Had I not chosen to research the merits of student blogging, I would not have made such a dramatic shift so quickly.  Pedagogy backed by research that has been examined holistically is my preferred stimulus for change.

When a pendulum’s swing is extreme in educational circles, I believe it is because the research has been dissected and only portions of it are being adhered to.  To that end, although I am eager to learn about and to put into practice new (or not so new) theory, I am also not prepared to dismiss entirely what may be considered to be “old school” practice. As educators, I think it is critical that we find models and theories that work for us, to continually tweak that process, and to consequently rock that process to the nth degree!

That is my goal, anyway, and I am looking forward to discovering my ” new ?”, this semester!

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Filed under ETEC 533, General thoughts, Google Apps For Education

Week 8: e-Rubrics r Gr8!

The question that I would like to focus on this week is:   

Are there other methods that are equally as economical, particularly in terms of instructor time, that are more suitable for assessment in a digital age?

where the “other methods” the list included were:

multiple choice tests, written essays, project work, e-portfolios, simulations and educational games

For me, this is the Holy Grail of teaching pedagogy– how to be effective as an educator and effective as an assessor.  Unless you are married to a teacher, or you are a teacher, it is likely that you have no idea how much time is consumed assessing student work.  It is the biggest time consumer of my week, now that most of my lessons are fairly under control.

Having observed my fellow Physics and Math colleagues assess, we all do not put in the same amount of time and feedback into our assessments.  It can take me over 2 hours, sometimes 3 hours, to mark 30 Physics 12 labs.  It is so time consuming that I have allowed students to hand in one copy between two lab partners, whenever I can. When I employ a rubric, I definitely cut my marking time down, and it seems as though student satisfaction with the feedback has not been comprised.  

Recently, as a GAFE adopter, I tried using Alice Keeler’s Google Sheet Rubric which allows you to adjust and weight each outcome, it totals the score, and then emails the rubric back to the student.  It also provides a space to enter additional comments.  As the students completed the entire lab on a Google Doc, I also provided comments on their labs directly.  Because I work in a high school in a district that allows students to self-consent for their FIOPPA permissions, Google Apps are at my finger tips–  I recognize, however, that this is not necessarily the case across the board.

If anyone is interested in seeing an e-rubric in action, I just made a screencast of a lab I just assessed for my Physics class.

Since this was my first time using an e-rubric, the learning curve sucked up some of the saved time, however, now that I have tried it once, I know that it will be smoother in the future.

Ironically, one of the best forms of assessment that I have introduced this year is not very high tech at all. I bought 18 individual white boards (on Clearance at London Drugs for $1 each!) and I will start most classes with collaborative warm up questions.  If a pair of students seem stuck, I send other students to peer instruct them. It is non-threatening, very efficient and NO MARKING.  I love it!

I”ve dabbled a bit with Google Forms this year, putting a “check in” on the Google Classroom.  Students receive 2 marks for participating.  Using the Add-on called Flubaroo, I can run the add-on in Sheets and immediately email students their results. Although it is pretty cool to do, I honestly think that the whiteboards are better use of class time– collaboration via peer instruction is pure magic!  The one advantage to the GF is that since I have it as an “assignment” on the GC, students who were away are still responsible for completing the check-in.  Perhaps I should have both!!! 🙂


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Filed under assessment, collaboration, ETEC 565, Google Apps For Education