Author Archives: allison kostiuk

Prodigy Math Game

Prodigy is a free math game available online at

Teachers can sign up their class using individual logins. Students will enter the Prodigy world, select a character and complete battles throughout the game while encountering math problems. Teachers can set specific topics or grade levels and will receive feedback on how each individual student is doing with a topic as well as the entire class. This engaging game provides a great support to your math curriculum.

Grow Plants Grow Inquiry with T-GEM

For my TELE final project I chose to do an inquiry on plants with my grade 3’s integrating the T-GEM theory. I posted a link to my project in the Student Café and received some awesome feedback from some classmates (thank you!). If you would like to take a look at my project, here is the link:

I chose to create a graphic outlining my steps using the T-GEM learning theory.

The virtual lab I would integrate into the generate phase would be this virtual lab on Light and Plant Growth to encourage students to think about possible hypotheses and questions for their own projects.

My fifth and final step is to incorporate a sharing aspect to showcase student learning. With this project the sharing would be in the form of a science fair with information on the project, a display of the plant(s) used, and a food connection sample for visitors to try.

As another technology connection, as Catherine suggested to me, I may also incorporate the creation of a digital story for students to showcase their observations made throughout the project in a creative way. Technology integration is a great way to enhance learning and offers additional ways for students to share and document their learning.


Khan, S. (2007). Model-based inquiries in chemistry. Science Education, 91(6), 877-905.

Khan, S. (2010). New pedagogies for teaching with computer simulations. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 20(3), 215-232.

TELE – Grow Plants Grow Inquiry

One part of Assignment 2, Option 2 Design a TELE says to share your artefact, so I thought I would share mine on here:

I have created a website on Wix to showcase my grade 3 plant inquiry project. I have designed the project around the T-GEM learning theory, which helped me put the project into 4 steps. Please check it out when you have a few minutes. I would welcome any feedback you may have. Thank you!


Situating Mathematics and Science in the Classroom

T. N. Carraher, D. W. Carraher, & A. D. Schliemann (1985) bring forth an interesting insight in “Mathematics in the streets and in schools”. Through their study, these researchers found children involved in the street markets making complex mental math calculations daily and successfully; however, when these same children were brought into a setting with similar pencil and paper mathematical tasks, many of them underperformed. Their results showed that “context-embedded problems were much more easily solved than ones without a context” (p. 24). In their context (the market) when solving successfully, “actual items in question were physically present” (p. 25). Too often in our math classrooms we are asking students to deal with operations and mathematical problems that are “in a very real sense divorced from reality” (p. 28).

As I have mentioned in previous posts, when considering this research and others we have encountered earlier in this course during our exploration of the Jasper series, I set out to revamp some of the problem solving I was using in my grade 3 math class. After exploring many problems that I tried to base in my students’ lives and make more real to them, our next project was to have students create their own problems. I had students use Google slides, accessed by an easy address, to compile a class set of problems. Next, we took pictures to add to the slides that showcased the problems using as many props and settings relevant to the problem as possible. This collection was then put on our class blog for students to access from home over spring break to work on. If you would like to see how the project turned out visit:

Using programs such as GLOBE and virtual field trips are ways to utilize the accessible affordances offered by technology in this day and age. GLOBE not only connects classes with real life scientists and experts in their fields, but it also provides a platform for students to contribute meaningful data to ongoing studies. Showing students future careers in different fields and ways they can contribute in the present day is impactful. Additionally, GLOBE “encourages students to understand the context of their own environment” (p. 12) by immersing them in conducting research around them. As evidenced in the Carraher, T. N., Carraher, D. W., & Schliemann, A. D. (1985) study, showing students how to solve problems in context is more likely to later be recalled in context when needed.

Similarly, Adedokun, O. A., Hetzel, K., Parker, L. C., Loizzo, J., Burgess, W. D., & Paul Robinson, J. (2012) find that virtual field trips can be “viable alternatives for providing students with learning opportunities and experiences that would have otherwise been unavailable to them” (p. 608) while exposing students to scientists and their real, authentic work.

In summary, I believe that providing students with as many experiences as possible that are situated in context and engaging in problem solving not only for problems they may encounter in the work force but also for problems they currently encounter in their everyday lives as children and students, we can better prepare them with skills necessary to succeed in the math and sciences.


Adedokun, O. A., Hetzel, K., Parker, L. C., Loizzo, J., Burgess, W. D., & Paul Robinson, J. (2012). Using Virtual Field Trips to Connect Students with University Scientists: Core Elements and Evaluation of zipTrips™. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 21(5), 1-12.

Butler, D.M., & MacGregor, I.D. (2003). GLOBE: Science and education. Journal of Geoscience Education, 51(1), 9-20.

Carraher, T. N., Carraher, D. W., & Schliemann, A. D. (1985). Mathematics in the streets and in schools. British journal of developmental psychology, 3(1), 21-29.


Authenticating Math Problems with a Synthesis of Learning Theories

To show a synthesis of my learning from Module B, I chose to create a Wordle inspired by my most influential readings from each week. I chose to take keywords from the abstracts of these articles: Pellegrino & Brophy (2008), Kim & Hannafin (2011), Edelson (2001), and Khan (2010).

Although some words I was tempted to hyphenate (such as ‘problem solving’) so that they would appear together, I decided to write the words in as they were and see what happened. I chose this particular font because it reminded me of old foundational stone that was used to create many of the world’s oldest buildings. To me, this represents that although the newness of colour and word clouds may seem flashy, the ideas are set in foundations of research, experimentation, and experience. I found it particularly interesting that design was one of the most popular words amongst the four articles.

The impact on my teaching that the exploration of these learning theories is already evident. As I mentioned in an earlier post after exploring Anchored Instruction (Pellegrino & Brophy, 2008), I decided to create some real-world math problems incorporating my grade 3 students to “help them conceptualize environments where problems tend to reoccur and it becomes useful to invent ways to deal with these reoccurances” (p. 283). I try to allow some choice within the problem:

Today’s problem: Payton has $___ to spend at La Lune Candy Shoppe. If he buys 5 _____ for $0.50 each, how much money will he need? How much money will he have left after he buys them? 

In addition to the problem, I provide a photo of the student displayed on the Smart Board that shows them acting out the problem. I allow students to work within their desk pods and have only stepped in to guide the presenting of answers in sentences and to review mathematical concepts (i.e. regrouping with addition and subtraction).

Whereas anchored instruction is all about situating learning in our learner’s environment, scaffolding (Kim & Hannafin, 2011) consists of staging achievable steps that are within reach but just slightly out of the comfort zone that are appropriate for the individual learner. Taking my math problems, it may be necessary for me to intervene and guide more with some students than others. Another idea could be to extend the same problem for advanced students.

Learning-for-Use (Edelson, 2001) integrates the above but focusses on retrieval. This is where my math problems come into play because they are taking math concepts we have explored already this year and calling upon the retrieval of these concepts. By showing students. Designing and interweaving “well-defined, guided investigation activities” (p. 362) throughout my math instruction will help to embed these concepts for many students.

T-GEM (Khan, 2010) is where I feel that I can bring this in altogether. Now that we have done a few weeks of these problems, I am having students generate ideas for their own math problem. Together, we are going to evaluate the problem they would like to create and that it is solvable. Students will be required to create an answer key for their problem and evaluate whether they have a one-step, two-step, or three-step problem. After peer and teacher review, students can modify their problem to make sense for the class and capture a photo, utilizing technology, that showcases their problem and the people in it. Finally, inspired by a project that students described in one of the videos we watched in Module A, this project will be compiled into a class book and sent home for “homework” over spring break. Trust me, grade 3’s get VERY excited about homework at this stage :).

It has been very engaging for myself and my students to see this evolving project emerge in our classroom. I look forward to completing it with my students and appreciate the synthesis of my learning throughout this module that has emerged.


Edelson, D.C. (2001). Learning-for-use: A framework for the design of technology-supported inquiry activities. Journal of Research in Science Teaching,38(3), 355-385.

Khan, S. (2010). New pedagogies for teaching with computer simulations. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 20(3), 215-232.

Kim, M. C., & Hannafin, M. J. (2011). Scaffolding problem solving in technology-enhanced learning environments (TELEs): Bridging research and theory with practice. Computers & Education, 56(2), 403-417.

Pellegrino, J.W. & Brophy, S. (2008). From cognitive theory to instructional practice: Technology and the evolution of anchored instruction. In Ifenthaler, Pirney-Dunner, & J.M. Spector (Eds.) Understanding models for learning and instruction, New York: Springer Science + Business Media, pp. 277-303.

The Atoms Family in Grade 3

“Us primary [kids] are much brighter than grown ups think! We hear about atoms all the time on the Big Bang Theory and The Simpsons, so why have they decided to keep atoms a secret in primary school?”Atomic Kids  (2013)

Well, the secret is no more in BC! I must admit, that last year when I started to explore the new curriculum I was astounded to find “all matter is made of particles” and “atoms are building blocks of matter” in grade 3 science (“Building Student Success,” 2016). I was also intimidated. Through a lot of exploration with my class I was blown away to see how captivated and interested they were in the subject. I created this visual to showcase how I would integrate T-GEM into my approach with this topic:

Atoms & Molecules with T-GEM by Allison Kostiuk

I found a PhET simulation lab for “Build an Atom” that I would utilize. Funny I did not realize I had found a “simulation lab” last year until I revisited it again through my class blog. I found that this resource helps my students “visualize aspects of science that are…too large [and] too small…to view” (Khan, 2010, p. 216).


Atomic Kids. (2013). Retrieved March 03, 2017, from

Building Student Success – BC’s New Curriculum. (2016). Retrieved March 03, 2017, from

Khan, S. (2010). New pedagogies for teaching with computer simulations. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 20(3), 215-232.


P.S. If you are looking for a cute song related to this topic, The Atoms Family is a great one!

Developing Spatial Literacy using Google Earth

I really enjoyed exploring GIS platforms this week and exploring ways they could be integrated into the classroom.

If I were to develop something to use in my grade 3 classroom I think that I would utilize Google Earth. My reasons for doing so would be that this is a mainstream platform that is user-friendly and easy to access from home as well. While I do see the importance and relevance of using platforms developed specifically for educational practices, I also see the necessity to show students mainstream tools that they can easily use on their own time and access from home (Bodzin, Anastasio, & Kulo, 2014).

Curriculum connections using maps are endless. With the push towards integrating more place-based learning and environmental education, the ability to easily access all different kinds of maps of our local areas is exciting. In grade 3 in particular, these maps could be utilized to investigate biodiversity and the local habitats of our plants and animals; how wind, water, and ice change the shape of the land; as well as measurement and construction of 3D objects, to name a few specific outcomes.

If I were to choose one activity to develop I might focus on using these maps for measurement and geometry. I liked the Google Earth activity of adding paths and polygons and how it could relate to our “Frolicking Friday” adventures. Every Friday we take our learning outside to our local area. Often this is in the form of treks down in the gully beside our school, and walks to our neighbourhood gardens and parks for various activities connecting to the science, socials studies, language arts, arts education, physical and health education, and math curriculum, thus beginning to foster spatial thinking by guiding these outings to be cross-curricular (Perkins, Hazelton, Erickson, & Allan, 2010). When I searched maps of our local area (Kimberley, BC) there were not many landmarks noted on our small town. It would be a worthwhile activity, then, for students to use these maps and add landmarks important to them and then measure distances using the measurement tools to begin to form an understanding of how long these distances take when we are walking them during our Frolicking Friday time. This activity would meet the four principles of the LfU model of construction and modification of knowledge structures (actual distance between local landmarks such as school and community garden), conscious and unconscious understanding of goals (calculating how long it would take to go to a local landmark and if we would have time to walk there during Frolicking Friday), the circumstances of knowledge construction (using the local environment that students experience daily is relevant to their construction of knowledge), and constructing knowledge in a support form (using maps found in Google Earth of the local area and then applying it during our outings) (Edelson, 2001). It would follow the foundation of the LfU principles that “understanding must be developed incrementally through the stepwise elaboration of knowledge structures” (p. 357) as well as the motivation understanding that “the motivation to acquire specific skills or knowledge within a setting in which the student is already reasonably engaged” (p. 358). Using “well-defined, guided investigation activities” and “interweaving…investigations and discussions” (p. 362) through our class blog and student digital portfolios, this activity could also lead to the creation of new motivation for learning.


Bodzin, A. M., Anastasio, D., & Kulo, V. (2014). Designing Google Earth activities for learning Earth and environmental science. In Teaching science and investigating environmental issues with geospatial technology (pp. 213-232).

Edelson, D.C. (2001). Learning-for-use: A framework for the design of technology-supported inquiry activities. Journal of Research in Science Teaching,38(3), 355-385.

Perkins, N., Hazelton, E., Erickson, J., & Allan, W. (2010). Place-based education and geographic information systems: Enhancing the spatial awareness of middle school students in Maine. Journal of Geography, 109(5), 213-218.

I’m So Hot – Solar Oven Inquiry

I chose to customize a project on solar ovens. Last year with my grade 3 students we looked at solar energy and conducted an inquiry project with solar ovens. The topic of solar energy was schoolwide and led to our BC Green Games project (which we ended up winning! You can find more information on my class blog post, here). Originally I found What Impacts Global Climate Change? (ID 9028), but then shortly after I found Solar Radiation and Solar Ovens (ID 19409). The Solar Radiation and Solar Ovens appears to be an updated version of the Global Climate Change project, with more current features and focused more towards solar ovens. When I went to use the Authoring Tool, however, it would not come up, only the first one. I decided to customize the first one, even though I would want to use the second one. I added a cute video I found, starring ‘Frank the Photon’, who was a big hit among my students.

Depending on the length of the study, I am also tempted to add an element of claymation/stop motion for my students to further explore the topic. Both activities of creating a stop motion video and designing and building a solar oven to test are scaffolding with opportunities for students to Question, Hypothesize, Investigate, Analyze, Model, and Evaluate (Kim & Hannafin, 2011).

I found the Authoring Tool in WISE very simple to use, I just wish I could have used it for the newer project! My version is now ID 19751. While I do really like the features in WISE that allow students to collect “Ideas” both publicly and privately, I would also add a community element into a project I used so that students could be building a shared understanding. Using a class blog, or Google Classroom, or even a padlet to facilitate a group discussion would be beneficial. As Kim & Hannafin (2011) point out, “social-networking technologies foster a wide range of opportunities for scientists to collaborate and build knowledge simultaneously through distributed reasoning” (p. 414).

Another video I would add into the project was the Story Bots song, “I’m So Hot”, hence my catchy title ;). I look forward to further exploring WISE!

Kim, M. C., & Hannafin, M. J. (2011). Scaffolding problem solving in technology-enhanced learning environments (TELEs): Bridging research and theory with practice. Computers & Education, 56(2), 403-417.

Problem Solving with Anchored Instruction

The Jasper materials are responding to the perpetual issue of making learning relevant to our students. The Jasper program aims to show students real-life problems that require skills, problem solving, and critical thinking related to the classroom material they are encountering.

Since I became a teacher, I have surprisingly struggled with the teaching of math. This has been surprising to me because I did really well in math all throughout my schooling. In “teacher school” we were shown many new ways of teaching math that branched away from the traditional rote memorization, focusing on there being more than one way to arrive at an answer and sometimes more than one correct answer to a problem; however, bringing this teaching to my grade 3 students in a classroom setting has been a whole other dilemma. In my first year I started following the program, Math Makes Sense. This brought hands-on learning activities, worksheet practice on facts and skills, and some in depth opportunities, however, I was not making it through the units, they took forever! I felt like the only way I could get through them would be to do math all day, but what about teaching reading and writing, and then science and everything else? I have tried other programs, such as Primary Success, which provides a well-rounded curriculum of fact building. I incorporate Mad Minutes because I do see the value in continuing rote memorization of basic facts. I have tried math stations and have seen some positive correlations arise from that system. I do feel I have not encountered something that works as well as I want it too, though.

I found myself with some extra time this week due to 2 snow days (we NEVER have snow days in the Kootenays, by the way, because we are used to getting a lot of snow, but this snowfall has been exceptional!). I was quite energized after the readings and decided to use my extra time to create a set of word problems that I could use with my students. Could I get through my curriculum using problem solving incorporating multiple math topics instead of traditional unit lessons and worksheet practice? The Cognition and Technology Group of Vanderbilt (1992a) states that “students need to develop [component skills] in the context of meaningful problem posing and problem-solving activities rather than as isolated ‘targets’ of instruction (p. 66). I focused on creating these problems to anchor my instruction by making them complex, requiring significant formulation, and having multiple viable solutions that “highlight the relevance of mathematics or science to the world outside the classroom” (Pellegrino & Brophy, 2008, p. 281). I have attempted to achieve this through incorporating the names of my students throughout the problems, investigating daily issues that arise for my students, and further personalizing the problem by using pictures of my students encountering the problem. At first, I thought I would try this out with my students as whole class guided lessons. As I read these articles further, however, I grew to understand the necessity of designing this time to “scaffold learners’ knowledge construction by fostering a community of learning and inquiry,” (Pellegrino & Brophy, 2008, p. 281) as well as allowing for “extended collaborative problem solving across multiple days and multiple activities” (Hickey, Moore, & Pellegrino, 2001, p. 614).

I am very interested in the idea of Legacy projects, too. I find this partners well with my use of a class blog, as I am able to pull up pictures and video of students from previous years to showcase a similar project we may be working on. There seems to be a pull towards making a video for students, too, that is motivating and seems to draw many of them into the project as well, perhaps as the authors state, because it “helps them see themselves as part of a community whole goal is to teach others as well as to learn” (Pellegrino & Brophy, 2008, p. 293).

The readings this week and the investigation into Jasper leaves me with wheels turning towards what my possible TELE project could be at the end of this course. I look forward to continuing to explore this area.


Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt. (1992a). The Jasper experiment: An exploration of issues in learning and instructional design. Educational Technology Research and Development, 40(1), 65-80.

Hickey, D. T., Moore, A. L., & Pellegrino, J. W. (2001). The motivational and academic consequences of elementary mathematics environments: Do constructivist innovations and reforms make a difference? American Educational Research Journal, 38(3), 611-652.

Pellegrino, J.W. & Brophy, S. (2008). From cognitive theory to instructional practice: Technology and the evolution of anchored instruction. In Ifenthaler, Pirney-Dunner, & J.M. Spector (Eds.) Understanding models for learning and instruction, New York: Springer Science + Business Media, pp. 277-303.

Correlating Primary vs. Secondary Thoughts on Classroom Tech Use

My Primary Interviewee is in her 33rd year of teaching. She has taught a variety of grades throughout her career including kindergarten up to high school grades in an alternate school setting. Currently she is teaching grade 3 at a primary (K-3) school in BC. The interview was conducted at her school on Tuesday, January 17 at 3:00pm.

My Secondary Interviewee is in his 8th year of teaching. He has taught a variety of secondary courses in the math and science area and is currently teaching Calculus, Pre-Calculus 12, Physics 11, and Pre-Calculus 11 this semester in a secondary (10-12) school in BC. The interview was conducted at his home on Tuesday, January 17 at 8:00pm.

The interviewees both had some recurring themes throughout our conversations such as time, appropriate use of technology, and the frustration of technology failure. Change is occurring in the math classroom, in their opinions, and it may not be what you think:

In math I’m not even sure if it’s so much technology, math has just completely changed from when I started teaching. When I started teaching it was worksheets, you delivered the lesson, it was all teacher talk, then you worked on the math pages and you sent home what wasn’t done…And now I see us using all sorts of different manipulatives, different ways…getting kids really involved in their learning. I think math has really, really changed…I think it [technology] has transformed learning a lot because kids who didn’t learn by the teacher direction, do the homework, kids who couldn’t learn that way are being given the opportunity to learn in a way that is working for them. And that’s where I see technology and just even the whole way we have changed the way we teach has definitely made a difference.” (Primary Interviewee)

I think in certain places you could implement technology and it could increase their learning if people knew what they were doing and knew how to use it was appropriate for the topic but just throwing technology in there isn’t going to do anything. I think since we’ve gone away…since we’ve put less technology in the math classrooms the kids are learning more than when they had more technology to use. Because they have to rely on understanding how to actually do it they can’t rely on just knowing where to put the numbers into the technology and having it do it for them. So I think they’re actually having that struggle and figuring it out on their own and not relying on some piece of technology to help them or be able to do it is actually helping them more fully understand the topics that we do.” (Secondary Interviewee)

How do we move forward, I wonder? Both interviewees admitted failure with technology when the reliance is too high and cited the need for a backup plan. “And sometimes I don’t [have a backup plan] and then it’s hard…you really have to change your whole lesson” (Primary Interviewee). How do we encourage educators to persevere when failure utilizing technology in the classroom can be frequent? “The computer carts are almost useless. To get enough bandwidth for the kids to do anything is almost impossible.” (Secondary Interviewee).

Lack of infrastructure, hardware, and funds seem to be general concerns that apply to many. The time it can take to learn these new innovations and implement them is not always rewarding right away or in some cases at all. Education, or possibly just our current public school systems, seems unable to keep up with the current pace of technology innovations. Sometimes it seems to me that the whole system needs to change,  along with the way we teach. The question of how we can effectively navigate these ever-changing technology waters as educators while maintaining life balance, providing engaging learning opportunities, and properly preparing our students for the world, still engages me even as I near completion of this program.