Problem Solving the the New Curriculum

I was extremely intrigued by this week’s focus on the Jasper Project and early Anchored Instruction TELEs.

The perceived issue the Jasper Project was trying to address was the shift in math instruction from traditional teacher-directed content teaching (without context), to problem solving and the meaningful construction and application of knowledge by students to, and within, realistic and complex situations.

I agree with this shift in focus and believe that the Jasper project was on the right track to addressing this issue. Jasper’s engaging videos (though now a bit dated) were an interesting starting point to address this. The videos gave students context and the ability to visualize often times difficult to understand information and actively apply this information within a variety of scenarios. The “Adventures of Jasper Woodbury – Rescue at Boone’s Meadow” (Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt, 1992) challenged student to utilize knowledge in science and math and apply this knowledge to plan and execute an eagle rescue. Results from this study and other videodisc-based instruction (Shyu, 2000) have demonstrated a significant improvement in student problem-solving skills, performance, and attitudes toward mathematics.

The new British Columbia curriculum I believe is also addressing this focus; encouraging teachers to look cross-curricular and teach with anchored instruction. Curriculum such as Applied Design, Skills, and Technologies encourage problem-solving, inquiry, and collaboration. Even within Science and Math, an emphasis is placed on real-world context and application. It is no longer acceptable to teach isolated skills or content. “The deep understanding and application of knowledge is at the centre of the new model, as opposed to the memory and recall of facts that previously shaped education around the globe for many decades” (B.C. Ministry of Education, 2017).

While I am not familiar with all of the contemporary videos available for math instruction and support technology, sites such as Khan Academy do not seem to provide anchored instruction like the Jasper Series does. From my recollection, Khan Academy provides tutorials on concepts (how to multiply and divide fractions for example) as opposed to the application of these concepts within complex situations.

Moving forward, I am interested in how current technologies may be utilized to provide anchored instructions in classrooms. What technologies have another teacher’s used? Did you consider them “successful”? (Success as defined by you in you classroom).



British Columbia Ministry of Education. (2017). B.C.’s New Curriculum. Retrieved from

Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt. (1992). The Jasper Series as an Example of Anchored Instruction: Theory, Program Description, and Assessment Data, Educational Psychologist, 27(3), 291-215.

Shyu, H.Y.C. (2000). Using video-based anchored instruction to enhance learning: Taiwan’s experience. British Journal of Educational Technology, 31(7), 57-69.




  1. Thanks for the post Natalie. I agree that BC’s new curriculum lends itself towards inquiry-based learning, decreasing prescribed outcomes in favor of problem-based learning. The importance of assembling knowledge in context is key (ex. learning how different organs work in isolation may be interesting, but learning about the body on the systems level provides additional insights), covering individual concepts as they arise in discussion. It does however make me wonder:

    1) What if teachers are not well versed in particular tangents off the big ideas? To be sure learners can access information from other sources, but how can educators adequately provide guidance when limited in expertise?

    2) What if certain ideas do not come up during teaching. Are students at a disadvantage having not covered particular learning intentions?


    1. Hi Andrew,

      It is important that teachers be versed in the “content” areas (PCK) as we have seen previously. However, as we know students often take off on these tangents! I believe that educators should be learning alongside their students who are trying to seek knowledge and help to scaffold this learning by providing support, asking questions to get students thinking deeper about their learning, and offer resources to help students. It is impossible for teachers to know it all (sorry teachers!). Technology is changing and especially in the fields of science and math new discovers are happening all the time. Reaching out to others who are “experts” in their field whether via social media, PIR (Partners in Research – awesome organization btw), or local community connections (bee keepers, optometrists,etc) assist us when we don’t know something.

      As for “if certain ideas do not come up during teaching”, as with any concept, when “important” (curriculum driven perhaps) topics have not arisen, it is the duty of the teacher to skillfully turn the conversation or to try and infuse questions that will provoke thought in those areas. Students would be at a disadvantage if they missed out on particular learning intentions. That being said, there are times with the teachable moments that happen when students are engaged in their own learning, often outweigh some of the learning intentions! As always in education, balance is key.

  2. I always enjoy reading your posts. I agree, the new BC Curriculum has done a fabulous job with the ADST portion. Design thinking, paired with technology, can be used cross-curricular. The fact that the ADST curriculum lacks curricular content has encouraged me to think outside the box and use it in all subjects. Example: Design Thinking when writing Fractured-Fairytales, and then using apps such as Puppet Pals, Toontastic, or Stop Motion to bring their stories to life.

    In the Science classroom, I use Brain Pop Jr to anchor instruction.

  3. As a math teacher, I have used videos at times to introduce concepts and as a hook to begin a lesson. One of the difficulties of utilizing anchored instruction is that a teacher would have a hard time of planning, and creating the resources necessary to teach. The video shown in the Rescue at Boone’s Meadow was produced by a University. If teachers wanted to create their own video, with the purpose of creating a more engaging way of showcasing a problem to students, teachers will need significant time to collaborate, and technical expertise to shoot the video. Most teachers will have to rely on resource from others in order to fully utilize anchored instruction.

    1. HI Gary,

      I absolutely agree. Seeing teachers in my school spend COUNTLESS hours creating engaging videos for their flipped classroom, I can see the appeal of relying on resources from others.

      That being said, I could see small groups of teachers at my school in grade 6 for example, (we have 13 teachers teaching grade 6) collaborate together on a video series in math/science that could be shared with the rest of the team (of course other teachers would be collaborating on other ideas/subjects to share…). We have time build into our schedule for the collaboration so it could be possible…lots to think about.

  4. Hi Natalie,

    Gary is correct in saying that it takes a significant amount of effort to create videos geared toward anchored instruction. Having experienced the professional video quality of online learning sites like, Udemy, and Pluralsight, I have to admit, it is hard to create high-quality video content without significant time investment in learning advanced video editing techniques, tools, and content structure skills.
    That said, we have to be constantly on the lookout for new technologies and content creation methodologies that will make creating top quality videos for anchored learning quick, easy, inexpensive, and fun.

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