Author Archives: allison kostiuk

Reigniting the Fire

I thoroughly enjoy watching video cases. Part of this could be because I am more of a visual learner, but I also like the switch up from having to read article after article.

First of all, I have to say I LOVE the 360 video and am blown away by the possibilities it could bring to the classroom. I was so captivated by the first 360 videos that I decided to focus on Video Case 1: Secondary STEM and then I picked something a little more relevant to me with Video Case 5: Elementary Space Science.

Underlying Issues:

  • Time
  • Information or Knowledge and Tech Support

Time is something that is a very prevalent factor in many aspects of our profession as educators. It often comes as the first defence in numerous situations where we feel overwhelmed.

As teachers, we desperately need to get away from this notion that we are the information keepers, the brains, the knower of all, in order to effectively teach our 21st century learners. No longer is it possible for us to know all, nor should we as our curriculum in BC now facilitates this switching of thought to make us the facilitators, the coaches, the mentors who can help guide students to acquire the skills and knowledge they need to succeed. With this new understanding and acceptance of our changed role comes a more natural relationship to be built with technology in the classroom. As one of the teachers in Video 1 states, “go in with a flexible approach to what we need to get done and how we’re going to get it done and we always have 2-3 options available”. Teachers need to be problem solvers in some situations while also providing their students with tools to become problem solvers themselves.

Further Questions:

  • Where do we find time to explore and play with technology ourselves?
  • How can we build appropriate tech support within our districts that facilitate both hardware support, teaching needs, and inspiration models for moving forward?


I think one of the ways to explore a response to my further questions was discussed in the first video case where teachers were talking about seeking release time to go and visit other schools with models they were interested in and also to talk with other educators about new directions that could and should be taken. In my district we can apply for collaborative grants and I see how this type of teacher inquiry could be very meaningful and impactful. One of the most enriching things about my experience in the MET program has been through connecting with other educators around the province, country, and globe in similar and diverse situations than my own and hearing their triumphs and challenges. Outside of this program, where do we find and build these networks? Social media seems to be one platform to support this desire. What about others? How can we reignite the fire, while being respectful of time, to build better support networks amongst our own colleagues? I look forward to exploring some of these questions in my interviews this week.

Using with Purpose

The utilization of technology in the math and science classroom should look like an enhancement and support for learning the concepts in these subject areas. Technology does not replace a standard way of teaching, but rather should be used to transform the learning that is able to occur. Technology can also not be used as a stand alone lesson or be regarded as providing a lesson in and of itself.

Last year I decided to subscribe to a free trial of “Mathletics”. Does anyone use this program at their school? A colleague and I received training one day after school as to all of the resources available on the site and then a date to discuss purchasing a full subscription after a month. My grade 3 students were very enthusiastic to use the site, which was full of math games, videos, practice, lessons, and more on every concept they needed to learn. My students were able to login to this site once maybe twice a week for a block to access these materials. During the month they were very engaged at exploring all of the different avenues available. As a teacher I could assign particular topics to students, track each student’s progress, and differentiate their learning. Mathletics is an amazing site and valuable resource. When we met with the company representative a month later, we were astounded at the price of subscription. Given that this was a resource we were not able to use with our students daily because of equipment and schedule restraints, it was not feasible for our school to purchase any kind of license. Although there are many creative ideas to fundraise and someone support this purchase price, I found myself questioning why. Why would I fundraise to teach math? This would be an expense I would need to find a way to pay for every year. How would I get enough use out of this program if I could only be supporting my students with this program once a week?

I came across the math game, Prodigy, through conversations in one of my MET courses. This is a free game that takes students into an adventure world where they can go on a quest while completing math questions. The program is designed to tailor math questions to student abilities and has been very engaging for my students. It also tracks student progress for a teacher and provides many different useful statistics.

Through my experience with both of these programs I have come to realize that they are both helpful and meaningful supports to my teaching when used appropriately. To solely rely on these programs would be detrimental to not only my students’ learning but also eventually to their motivation to learn. We talk about how numbers and words on a worksheet can be too abstract for many of our learners and that they need more hands on and experiential learning opportunities, and I think we need to realize that jumping to the opposite pole of full learning on technology could also end up looking quite similar to the “learning” that occurs with worksheets. When used appropriately and purposely, the opportunities to enhance our students’ learning in the math and science classroom by utilizing technology are endless and quite exciting.

Communication Forms

Reflecting on my own experiences as a student and as a teacher leads to two generalizations of personal challenges I have encountered:

  1. Memorization of so much information without application
  2. Repetition + Rote vs. Time + Experience

Both of these issues were relevant to me in my secondary and post-secondary education. Having been a particularly strong student through most of my grade levels, I began to struggle at the end of secondary school and beginning of post-secondary when I could not simply rely on memorization of what I heard in class. I was not used to having to “work” to acquire my learning.

The video we watched about Harvard graduates and the case study of Heather stated, “every time we communicate, new concepts compete with the pre-conceived ideas of our listeners” (18:38). In thinking about the growing trend or use of STEM, or STEAM, or inquiry-based learning and other related terms in the classroom, the similarity of all of these is integrating subject areas and hands on learning. I find it exciting to think of all the possibilities when we picture inter-curricular projects rather than separate boxed subject areas. Recognizing how these subject areas can co-exist simultaneously and being comfortable with it, however, seems to be one of the biggest hurdles. Nadelson et al. (2013) suggest that, “many elementary teachers have constrained background knowledge, confidence, and efficacy for teaching STEM that may hamper student STEM learning” (p. 157). “Access to appropriate resources” (p. 157) and appropriate professional development seem to also be key challenges to the integration of STEM into the elementary curriculum whose content and daily schedule seem to lend itself particularly well to the teaching of STEM. Although this article cites the problem being that the teacher certification program does not include enough science and mathematics methods and content courses, which I do agree with to a certain extent, I have found that authentic, engaging professional development is severely lacking and not often sought out. I also contend that even if there were more methods and content courses in teacher certification programs, change would not necessarily occur if the teaching in the certification programs continued to be on dated methods and content. Getting back to the original quote from the video, new concepts compete with the pre-conceived ideas not only in our students but also in teachers. How can teachers be encouraged to challenge their own pre-conceived ideas without feeling threatened or without having the fear of a ton more work without any payoff in regards to student learning?

Driver, R., Guesne, E., & Tiberghien, A. (1985). Children’s ideas and the learning of science. Children’s ideas in science, 1-9.

Nadelson, L. S., Callahan, J. , Pyke, P. , Hay, A. , Dance, M. & Pfiester, J. (2013). Teacher STEM Perception and Preparation: Inquiry-Based STEM Professional Development for Elementary Teachers, The Journal of Educational Research, 106:2, 157-168, DOI: 10.1080/00220671.2012.667014

Shapiro, B. L. (1988). What children bring to light: Towards understanding what the primary school science learner is trying to do. Developments and dilemmas in science education, 96-120.

The Selection Process

floppy disks

Having both my parents as teachers growing up exposed me to much of the technology being implemented into schools at the time. When I was younger I remember us having an Apple 2E. I recall my parents sitting down in our home office and taking turns typing out their report cards and being so excited that they could type them and correct their typing before printing the reports out. Next, we got a Macintosh desktop computer; however, that did not last long because shortly after schools got labs of these computers they quickly got rid of them because no one was trained to fix them and programs were not compatible between Mac and PC (remember having to select CD-ROMs that were specifically Mac or PC? Or receiving both versions in a program package?). Fast forward to the present day where compatibility has been solved in some ways but become more intricate in others (I REALLY like that all of my Apple devices sync up with one another and am probably a long way from purchasing another brand of device primarily because it would now not sync up with my others). When thinking of the evolution of devices that I have seen in my life and storage of information from floppy disk to 3 1/2” disk to CD/DVD to memory stick to cloud, my questions include:

  • With the speed of technology device advancements how can we (in schools) keep current while still utilizing previous hardware that has been purchased? Or, how do we make smarter purchases with technology at a school level?
  • How can we integrate cloud storage effectively and abide by FIPPA in Canada using mainstream technology (i.e. GAFE, YouTube, etc.)?

Hello from the Kootenays

My name is Allison Kostiuk. This is my 9th MET course! I have taken ETEC 500, 510, 511, 512, 521 (Indigeneity), 531 (Arts & Humanities), 540 (Text Technologies), and 565A (Learning Technologies).

I live in Cranbrook and teach in Kimberley in the beautiful East Kootenay region of BC.

I have taught grade 3 for the past five years and taught K-5 music before that. I am in my sixth year of teaching and am looking forward to completing my Masters this year. The learning I have engaged in and encountered during my time in the MET program has been hugely rewarding and I look forward to gathering more resources and experiences with technology in the classroom from this course.

As you can see above, my hobbies include yoga, as well as cooking and crafting (making homemade cards and scrapbooking). I have been taking 2 MET courses at the same time as working full time throughout my time in the program and look forward to having only one course this semester to hopefully achieve some sort of better balance in my life.

Looking forward to learning with you all!