IBL & Keeping Students ‘On Track’

The first set of videos I watched was Case 5. It showed a teacher who has her students working on a project while also incorporating many different technologies into the classroom. She refers to herself as ‘the coach’ and ‘a learner’. This mentality certainly follows the more laidback teaching style of facilitator as opposed to authoritarian. Judging by the commentary in the background by her students, they seem to be engaged in the task and are committed to the project and to furthering their learning. This style of teaching, and using project-based learning, allows her to roam around the room and check for understanding. It also “equalizes the playing field for all the students” so that they, despite their cultural differences, can work at their own pace and use technology to their advantage.

The teacher does not go into the particular project much and so it raises some questions about what the expectations surrounding the project are. How are students held accountable for their learning? Does she conference with them on a daily basis? Weekly? What does she do to ensure that no student is left behind? The teacher says “It [the IBL approach] challenges them, not all of them” so what does she do to make sure that all students are, in fact, learning something and are challenged in certain way?

As a new teacher, I have not had the chance to really delve into a full Inquiry Based Learning project and the openness and potential to come out of it really peaks my interest. I would love to undertake a unit but definitely need to do more research on how to structure it. The idea of letting it come naturally frightens me as there is so little time in the school year that I would not want to spend time on a particular topic only to realize a few lessons in that there is nothing that could come out of it. That being said, if there were no curriculum or time restrictions, IBL is a beautiful way of learning. However, as a started, I think I would need to see how it is done, perhaps by witnessing a colleagues experience with it. The students in the second video obviously really enjoy the open aspect of their learning and you can tell that creativity and collaboration are main aspect of this type of learning. The incorporation of different types of technology allows students to be able to express their learning in many diverse ways. During my Graduate Diploma of Teaching, I too, was asked to create a Slowmation and have since seen it done with students as young as in Kindergarten. The learning curve is large but the excitement and engagement that occurs is so worth it!

Case 6 also demonstrates how technology is incorporated into the science and math classroom. The teacher interview was fantastic and I was very impressed by the teacher himself. He had multiple Grade 8 groups working on various tasks including cutting into an eye, listening to a CBC podcast, listening to a song, creating a podcast of the textbook, etc. The tasks really encourage differentiation and demonstrated that there was an activity that would peak every students interest.

The teacher at one point is asked how he has learned about all the various forms of technology he is incorporating into his classroom. He candidly answers that, for the most part, it is up to him. This seems to be a common occurrence across many school boards in Canada and it strikes me as odd. My school board, in particular, really focuses on the implementation of technology into the classroom yet, without teachers exploring the options on their own, little is discussed about how or what to bring into the classroom. Taking the MET was one of the ways that I would learn about different ways to integrate technology into my classroom.

All in all, the video cases detailed the overwhelming support for technology into math and science classrooms yet did ultimately leave me with some questions as mentioned above. The final question I have left is how can we, as educators in the MET, help our teams with implementing technology into the classrooms? How can we encourage technology to be used in a meaningful way and not just because it is there?


  1. I also wonder how the students are held accountable for their learning? There was no discussion on what type of assessment she uses during and after their projects are completed and I would be interested in how she does it. One thing I personally still struggle with is the formative and summative portion of student’s assessments; primarily after a project is created using technology. It was great to see firsthand how other teachers use technology in the classroom but I would have liked to have seen some type of assessment mentioned.

  2. Hello all,

    I enjoyed your post on IBL and the questions you still had after watching the case videos. You brought up some very good points! From my experience, IBL is not a more laid back approach to teaching. It requires significantly more work during the planning stages before a project is launched. Further, as students are taking their own approach or path, it requires the educator to be vigilant and prepared to answer a wide array of questions. Finally, as students will inevitably get stuck on certain concepts, it requires steering students in the right direction to help them discover some of the milestones.

    I had the opportunity to attend a four day conference in Atlanta hosted by the Buck Institute (https://www.bie.org/) on IBL and Project Based Learning and found that from an assessment perspective, if the assessment is well designed (summative test) then it is still something that you should be able to implement in your classroom. I have also found that multi-modal methods of presenting findings is quite effective in measuring students achievement. For example, if I ask students to create a screencast (basically a video capture of a computer screen with voice over), then their level of expertise while they are explaining a concept becomes quite clear – it is definitely different, but once you have gone through it a couple of times, it gets easier.

    Thanks again for the thought provoking post!

  3. “How can we encourage technology to be used in a meaningful way and not just because it is there?”

    This is a great question! There has been a substantial investment in Ontario to bring technology into the classroom. However, I think that having the tools available does not automatically mean that they are being used to their full potential. There is a big learning curve that teachers and school boards need to address. I think one of the main areas that need to be addressed is knowing how teaching (pedagogy) and technology go hand in hand. In other words, it’s not about knowing what piece of technology to use, rather how learning can be advanced because of its use.

  4. Kirsten

    I like the fact that brought up how teachers learn all of this technology. “The teacher at one point is asked how he has learned about all the various forms of technology he is incorporating into his classroom. He candidly answers that, for the most part, it is up to him.” The students in the MET and other programs are doing it on your own.

    I wonder if could expand on the different ways learning how to integrate the new technology into your classroom.

    A good next step might be to research your last question in your post. “How can we encourage technology to be used in a meaningful way and not just because it is there?”


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