Engagement, Assessment & Barrier

Ms. G is currently a grade 6 elementary teacher at a school in downtown Vancouver. This is only her second year of teaching where before she worked in marketing. The interview was conducted face to face in her classroom at 8:30 a.m. on Monday May 29, 2017.

Three summary keywords that echoed throughout my interview were: engagement, assessment and barrier. Ms. G uses technology in her math class everyday. She uses her Smartboard to, “… watch videos, complete interactive activities that promote student engagement, and for teacher demonstration.” If she wants to capture student’s attention in math, she’ll either use Khan Academy to demonstrate a concept or find a mini video clip on Youtube. She appreciates how convenient it is to have a Smartboard in class and feels that she’s pretty fortunate since not all teachers have one. She uses an online copy of her student’s workbook so that the entire class can do math examples from the book on the Smartboard. Ms. G stated that by doing so it will help, “…students assess their own understanding.” One area of incorporating technology into the classroom that she would like to learn more on is assessment.

Ms. G mentioned in the interview that she would like, “…to use other programs that would help with formative and summative assessment like quick little quizzes or tests where students can log-in and track their progress throughout the unit. I would like to set-up the quizzes so that they correlate with what we just learned in class rather than random questions from the textbook.” I mentioned if she has considered creating her own online quizzes and her response was that, “I don’t have the time in my busy schedule.” Again, this sentiment is the same view as other teachers such as in Video Cases 5 & 6 in our previous lesson.

The third keyword that stuck out in my interview with Ms. G is barrier. As she states, “Resources are a huge barrier to teachers and students in the public school system since you cannot guarantee that technology is available when you need it.” At her school, they have 2 iPad carts which is shared amongst 18+ divisions. You have to book far in advance if you want to use them in your class. Also, her union advocates against the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) model which is another barrier in the way of incorporating technology into the class.  Since her schoolboard won’t provide more funding for other technological devices in class, she still allows her students to BYOD but with certain restrictions.

In conclusion, Ms. G uses technology wherever she can in her math class but would like to learn how to assess her students while using it. If given the chance, she, “…would be eager to take any training offered by my school board as students are very engaged with technology and learning how it can be embedded across all subjects would be very beneficial.”




  1. Having access to technology seems to be a ‘barrier’ for many educators across the country. With technology being everywhere now, it is so important that students are taught how to properly use it to benefit their learning. While I can see why some schools may have issues with BYOD (inappropriate content on their devices, unrestricted usage, etc), I find it confusing that they would block outside devices if they are not providing classrooms with enough. Two carts for an entire school is obviously extremely impractical.

    You also mentioned that the teacher said she “doesn’t have time” to create her own quizzes etc. Much of teacher preparation is usually done on our ‘own time’ and so is learning how to use technology. I can understand how she does not have the time or perhaps will not spend the time on creating these quizzes if it goes above and beyond her regular teacher preparation. But…if you want to be well-versed in the technology game and have your students understanding how to incorporate technology into their learning, does that have to come at a personal price? Does it have to be done solely outside of ones work hours?

    How do you find the time to research/test out new technology/applications?

  2. Limited access to resources will always be an issue, though technology is expanding across multiple platforms with open source, etc. Your post made me wonder however whether Smartboards are more useful in elementary settings than high school? No doubt it provides tactile learning, but I’ve seen Smartboards actually taken out of high school classrooms to recover whiteboard space, etc. Is this more: high school is not as conducive for Smartboards, or just should be better utilized given teacher creativity?


  3. Access to technology is a consistent issue many educators face. I was surprised to read, “At her school, they have 2 iPad carts which is shared amongst 18+ divisions. You have to book far in advance if you want to use them in your class.” That is obviously inadequate to effectively use them as a tool for learning. I would love to know more about why the union is advocating against BYOD?
    I agree that the benefit of Smartboards was largely limited to elementary classrooms. Now that so many devices offer touch interactivity, the investment is probably not worth it. Assuming you have access to these technologies. I have had one in my grade 5 class for quite a few years. When we only had computer labs, the Smart Board did allow me to bring a lot of technologies into the classroom. However, it was really the projector that was most useful. The interactivity was an engaging novelty for kids but now that we have consistent access to tablets and touch screen laptops, it doesn’t really offer any value. However, I do think the Notebook Software is well designed more many purposes.

  4. Like Mr. G, I am also looking for ways to create small quizzes that students can complete quickly and for me to assess results. I am thinking of using Google forms in order to do this, but like Mr. G and other teachers have suggested, time is often the limiting factor in creating these assessments. Perhaps this is work that can be shared among teachers that also teach the same grade?

    I teach at the high school level, and if I do plan to implement something like this, I would probably allow my peer tutor to create such a quiz, if I get one next year.

  5. I give credit to Ms. G.. As a 2nd-year teacher, she seems to have embraced technology in a significant way. I know many teachers who feel overwhelmed or overburdened and can’t find the time to invest in learning how best to use technology.

    Finding ways to deal with limited resources is tricky. In some respects, BYOD seems to be an easy solution if you have policies and supports in place that allows for it. I don’t currently have a BYOD policy in my classroom but am interested in exploring the pros and cons. I’m curious about to know if there are any best practice ideas around what age or grade BYOD is most appropriate?

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