Author Archives: baljeet gill

JA Titan

I utilize a simulation in my senior business classes that I think could also be useful in a mathematics classroom in the lower grades.

Junior Achievement Titan is a business simulation where your company creates and markets a fictional product.  You are given a lot of control over how many parameters you want your students to be able to control depending on their level of understanding.  The resource is free to use and a representative from Junior Achievement will spend about an hour with you on the phone walking you through how the simulation works and strategies to implement in your classroom.

I hope this helps!

Linear Equations anchored in the Man In Motion Tour

Of the four instructional frameworks we explored in module B, I chose to look at anchored instruction where students are required to generate sub-questions based on a broader question anchored in a real-world situation.

The school I teach at is named after Rick Hansen; a man who has raised many millions of dollars in the name of spinal cord research.  When referring to Rick Hansen, his Man In Motion tour often comes up as it was the worldwide launch of his attempt to create awareness around spinal cord injury.  My lesson will develop a driving question around Rick Hansen’s Man In Motion Tour and the curriculum requirements around Cartesian coordinates and linear equations.

Driving Question: How can we explain Rick Hansen’s Man In Motion Tour using math?

Step 1:

Students are given a chance to brainstorm what this question means to them.  There is no context to this problem other than the math we have already covered in the class thus far – linear equations have not been studied yet.  Once they have had a few minutes to brainstorm, they add their ideas to a shared Google Doc.  Students are aware of the requirements of online collaboration and the behavior and accountability that comes with that.  Discuss as a class.

Step 2:

Introduce to students the route data that has been acquired from the Rick Hansen School program (in spreadsheet form) of daily mileage traveled, dates traveled and each city that Rick stayed overnight.  This brings a new dynamic to the problem as students are now given some context.  Ask students to revisit their contributions from the previous step and update their position.

Step 3:

Take students outside to the soccer field where ‘treasure’ has been previously placed throughout the field.  In pairs, have students brainstorm effective ways draw a map for their peer to reach this treasure.  The aim is to have students begin to work with the x/y plane and Cartesian coordinates.  Guide students and ask probing questions as required.

Step 4:

Explore the concept of constant speed and how it can be illustrated by a linear equation.

As a class, explore the PhET simulation:

And speak about how any point on that line (position) can be expressed with some value of x or y.  Allow students a chance to play around with the slope and y-intercept.  Provide a list of questions students need to answer to better familiarize themselves with the y=mx+b form.

Step 5:

Assign students a country (each country has about 10 stops) that Rick visited during his Man In Motion tour and task students with using linear equations to try and explain his position at any point during a given day.  They can assume that he was travelling for eight hours per day.

This should be enough information for them to find his average speed and come up with a linear equation for each day.  Students will find that some days were longer than others in regards to distance – ask them why they think this is the case?  They could look at elevation changes on certain days etc.


I would love feedback on potential pitfalls or areas of development you may see.


Contribute to the Greater Good – Business Education

Providing our students with the expertise to critically sort through the enormous amount of information that is available to them is one of the most important skills we, as educators, can help them develop.  With the rapid developments we have seen in technology over the past two decades, our students have the opportunity to engage in the curriculum and interact with environments that otherwise would have been very difficult to do.  Driver et. al. (1994) reiterate a commonly accepted principle that knowledge must be constructed by the learner and not simply transmitted; what we define as constructivism.  In this module we are introduced to the concept of knowledge diffusion and how students can work together to collectively create learning experiences and construct knowledge.

Veletsianos & Kleanthous (2009) explore the idea of adventure learning and define it as “an approach to the design of online and hybrid education that provides students with opportunities to explore real-world issues through authentic learning experiences within collaborative learning environments” (para. 7).  The authors found that in order to fully understand such complex learning environments, more research is required in empirically grounding both the process of learning and the means to support that process.  Although this is a math and science based class, as a business education teacher, I see enormous potential with this technology.  In order to bring authenticity to my lessons, I attempt to discuss business cases of companies that students are interested in and may think they know a lot about; exploring these same companies using the foundations of business education theory helps them construct knowledge in deeper ways.  Using technologies such as Google Expeditions to virtually tour an Amazon distribution centre or to be able to experience different corporate office environments to understand how business is done differently in other countries can be invaluable experiences to my students (last I checked, Google Expeditions doesn’t offer corporate tours).

In my Financial Accounting 12 class I tasked my students with creating a lesson that would serve as a study tool to others in the course.  There are no business prerequisites for this course and so students arrive with a varied level of understanding and previous knowledge.  The purpose of the assignment was to help those with no experience with accounting to understand a basic level so as to have as many students on the same page as possible.  Those students who had taken Accounting 11 were tasked with more complex issues while those who had no accounting experience were given more basic principles to explain.  In hindsight, I wish I had created an online database of these lessons so future students could access and learn as well.

Do you think this contribution of knowledge is similar to the data collection and collaboration we saw in tools such as Globe?


Driver, R., Asoko, H., Leach, J., & Mortimer, E. (10/01/1994). Educational researcher: Constructing scientific knowledge in the classroom American Educational Research Association. doi:10.2307/1176933

Veletsianos, G., & Kleanthous, I. (2009). A review of adventure learning.International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 10(6) Retrieved from

Yoon, S. A., Elinich, K., Wang, J., Steinmeier, C., & Tucker, S. (2012). Using augmented reality and knowledge-building scaffolds to improve learning in a science museum. International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, 7(4), 519-541

Embodied Learning and Metaphors

Embodied Learning is a new topic for me and one that took a lot of reading and re-reading to get a grasp of.  Winn (2003) describes a framework of learning consisting of three concepts: embodiment, embeddedness and adaption.  Embodiment can be described as “how our physical bodies serve to externalize the activities of our physical brains in order to connect cognitive activity to the environment” (Winn, 2003, p.7) while the interdependence of this cognition and the environment is referred to as embeddedness.  Winn (2003) goes on to describe some of the neuroscience that is known and should not be ignored by educators.  Further, we read that our interactions with the world are limited and thus our understanding of it is too; We cannot hear certain sounds, nor can we see certain light and we experience in the world in a certain space and time.  Winn (2003) states that artificial environments can create representations that can allow us to understand concepts that would otherwise lie outside of our experience.

One of the challenges that arises with artificial environments is determining an effective way to represent certain concepts; students could easily misread or misunderstand metaphorical representations.  Niebert (2012) argues that “not only teaching but also thinking about and understanding science without metaphors and analogies is not possible” (para. 1). An example that Winn (2003) provides is representing current flow of the ocean using vectors and using longer vectors to show faster current (something that was misread by the student to mean the opposite).  Niebert (2012) presents a very impressive paper where 199 metaphors were analysed for their effectiveness in students learning.  An interesting finding was that one reason that a metaphor can go wrong is if it is constructed and not embodied.  What is meant here is that many metaphors are used in the classroom but “students do not have an embodied experience with the metaphor’s source domain but need imaginative skills to understand it” (Niebert, 2012, para. 29).  This really stood out for me because I find that I often use metaphors in my lessons and lectures without really considering how familiar students are with the source domain; even though it may be something students are able to relate to very well, I haven’t considered if is embodied.   

Finally, I read an article by Barab and Dede (2007) where they explore the potential that video games can have to create immersive learning environments for science education.  They found that game-based simulations were able to promote collaboration and self reflection while engaging students in professional roles and scaffolding learning through multimodal representations (Barab & Dede, 2007).


Questions for further discussion:

  1. How would you compare and contrast embodied learning with a constructivists view of learning and do you believe we have moved too far away from traditional cognitive theory as Winn (2003) would suggest?
  2. Niebert (2012) states that science cannot be taught without metaphors.  Do you agree?  Also how can we ensure the metaphors we are using are embedded and not constructed?


Barab, S., & Dede, C. (2007). Games and Immersive Participatory Simulations for Science Education: An Emerging Type of Curricula. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 16(1), 1-3. Retrieved from

Niebert, K. (09/01/2012). Science education (salem, mass.): Understanding needs embodiment: A theory‐guided reanalysis of the role of metaphors and analogies in understanding science John Wiley & Sons Inc.

Winn, W. (2003). Learning in artificial environments: Embodiment, embeddedness, and dynamic adaptation. Technology, Instruction, Cognition and Learning, 1(1), 87-114. Full-text document retrieved on January 17, 2013, from:

Pedagogy First then building a library of resources!

Exploring the four Technology Enhanced Learning Environments in Module B was a reflective process for me that has furthered my understanding of what a student centered classroom can look like.  Many of my students bring their own device so the opportunities in my classroom are limited mainly by my understanding of resources that are available.  

I was especially impressed by WISE and the flexibility to personalize lessons to fit your own specific needs.  The lesson on Learning For Use was the one that I drew the most parallels to my own teaching pedagogy.  The context in which students learn is so important to whether or not they will be able to access this knowledge in a useful way at a later date.

The Jasper series aimed to create real-world problems for students to solve and did a great job of requiring students to create sub-questions from larger ones; I do, however, think that the actual topics of the questions would need to be modified to be more engaging to students.  My understanding of constructivism and inquiry learning is that not only should the problem be real-world, but also something students can relate to (I don’t know if flying an airplane is something my students are all that familiar with).

As a Business Education teacher, I was inspired by the resources presented in this module to continue to search for those that could be used in my classroom.


Learning Goals TELE Explored
Anchored Instruction & Jasper Anchor the learning in a real-world problem.  Students learn to generate sub-questions from the larger question with the aim of creating critical thinkers and not just students answering basic end of chapter problems. Jasper is a set of videos that presents problems to students in an engaging way.  They are real-world; although, I think they could be more relatable to the students.
SKI and WISE Scaffolded Knowledge Integration where students are given the chance to document their learning and revisit it to continually build understanding.  The SKI framework, like the others, is aimed to lead students through a process of inquiry. Through WISE, students are guided through a set of lessons to gradually build understanding of a topic.  The lessons I explored were relatively traditional in that they provided information, and then allowed the student to apply this knowledge in a simulation.
LfU & MyWorld Learning For Use – Learning takes place through constructing new knowledge and modifying previous knowledge, knowledge is goal directed and the context in which the knowledge is constructed matters. Three main aspects of LfU are motivation, knowledge construction and knowledge refinement. MyWorld allowed students to explore the the geography of our planet (earth), create our own and predict what weather patterns will occur.
T-GEM & Chemland T-GEM is a learning theory that leads students through a process of inquiry.  The main elements are to Generate a relationship, Evaluate that relationship and finally Modify it based on the exploration in stage 2. Chemland is a resource used to teach post-secondary chemistry concepts.  It allows students to manipulate many different parameters and immediately see the impact those changes have on the experiment.


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). Springer Netherlands.

Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt. (1992). The Jasper Experiment: An Exploration of Issues in Learning and Instructional Design. Educational Technology Research and Development, 40(1), 65-80. Retrieved from

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. 10.1002/1098-2736(200103)38:3<355::aid-tea1010>3.0.CO;2-M

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.

Prado, M., & Gravoso, R. (03/01/2011). The asia-pacific education researcher: Improving high school students’ statistical reasoning skills: A case of applying anchored instruction College of Education, De La Salle Universi

Torque and Bench Press Design

In Physics 11 the concept of torque is often quite easy to calculate but, from my experience, is not something that many students fully understand.  The implications of torque are enormous in engineering but also have real world applications for our students.  Many of our students have been on a ‘teeter-totter’ and experienced the effects of leaning back to go down faster.  I would present students with the problem of a loaded bench press (4-45lbs plates a side) and ask their thoughts on how many plates I can take off one side before the bar flips.  The intention of using this example is it would relate to my students and would have them think about torque in their daily lives.

I would use the following question to guide the inquiry process:

How can we explain the gym using physics? What is the safest design of a bench press to prevent weight tipping?

The question is intentionally broad as there is no single answer to it.  We will approach it through the lens of torque (and can revisit from other angles as we see fit – pulleys etc).


Phase of Instruction Teaching Method Student Activity
Generate Relationship Show students a picture of a loaded bar with 405lbs and ask how many 45lbs plates can be removed from one side before the bar flips.  This is a complex question as the pivot point is very close to the heavier side.  Ask students what they think will happen if a smaller bench press is used and the anchor points are closer together (the pivot point would be further from the weight). Students hypothesize what is going to happen, explore bench press design, design a bench press to minimize weight tipping yet is still usable and compare their results with others in the class.  
Evaluate the relationship Take the class to the weight room and recreate the situation and see what happens (teacher led – be careful!)

Have students complete the PhET simluation ( on tourque and balance.

Students test their theory with what actually happens and are given time to work with an unloaded bar (Safely!!) and see how position and pivot point effect when the bar will tip.  Students capture their experiment using their devices and explain their findings in a video journal.
Modify the relationship Other implications and extensions of where these theories of physics apply are covered (structural engineering, mechanical engineering) Students modify the design of their own bench press with detailed explanations of their design choice and answer the driving question.

Any thoughts or suggestions on the design process or the guiding questions?



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.

Constructing knowledge and structures

The Edelson (2001) articles presents us with a challenge that is not only unique to math and science teachers, but to educators of all subject areas in K-12: “teach more content more effectively, [and] devote more time to having students engage in [inquiry] practices” (p. 355).  Although multiple research articles as early at the 1960s have shown the benefits of inquiry learning, educators are resistant to change because of a perceived time crunch (Edelson, 2001).  We are presented with a design framework called the Learning-for-Use (LfU) model in an attempt to showcase how technology can be integrated to include both content and process learning.

LfU is based on 4 principles that many other contemporary learning theories utilize (Edelson, 2001):

  • Learning takes place through constructing new knowledge and modifying previous knowledge
  • Knowledge construction is goal directed
  • The situations in which the knowledge is constructed matters and affects its ability to be used in other circumstances

I am hard pressed to find a difference between LfU and constructivism.  A project that I would attempt with my Math 9  students would be to utilize a computer assisted drawing (CAD) program to challenge students to a design a structure and then determine the material costs associated with the structure; I would utilize this project to teach surface area and volume.  I would have to set parameters such as ensuring the structure had pillars of different shapes (cylinders etc) and also ask them to research actual prices of concrete, wood, and any other material they needed to complete their project.  From a motivational standpoint, they would determine the need to know how to figure out volume (how much concrete is needed for the support pillars) and surface area (how much paint do I need?).

Any thoughts on the project or gaps you might see?


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). Springer Netherlands.

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. 10.1002/1098-2736(200103)38:3<355::aid-tea1010>3.0.CO;2-M

Our desire for fast information…

The Jasper materials were created to provide a set of motivating problems for students and further provide a context for students to integrate knowledge from many subject areas such as science, history, English and mathematics (Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt, 1992).  The Jasper series attempts to tackle a large problem that is still at the core of education today and a part of many educators’ pedagogy: create independent thinkers and not just students that are able to follow a set of procedures to solve basic arithmetic problems.  The CTGV (1992) found that most students were able to answer basic questions that were posed to them, but were not effective at breaking down larger questions into smaller, more manageable sub questions.  As an educator in an environment where inquiry and cross curricular projects are encouraged (and to some degree required), the problems the Jasper series address are important; Many of us are familiar with the changes to the British Columbia curriculum and how we are not just relying on students to know content but also curricular competencies as well (how they are doing it).  With the rapidly changing environment in both our students’ lives and also the professional workplace, it is important to create graduates that are able to make informed decisions with the information they are given (Prado & Gravoso, 2011).

Contemporary video that are made to supplement instruction take on another approach that I don’t think are directly related to anchored instruction.  Khan Academy tackles the issue of convenience and allows educators to flip the classroom.  The lessons are very well designed, but again provide more of a traditional work-through example as opposed to students learning through inquiry.  This is not to discount the effectiveness of this resource as students can use it as a primary source, or as a supplementary source to clarify topics they may not fully understand.  Crash Course tackles the issue of engagement and also caters to our desire for information in a condensed way.  I have seen many Crash Course videos (and often times is my first choice if I need a ‘Crash Course’ on a particular topic).  The content is very condensed and is not anchored in any real-world problem that the student needs to solve but is rather a synopsis of a topic in an engaging and humorous way.


Prado, M., & Gravoso, R. (03/01/2011). The asia-pacific education researcher: Improving high school students’ statistical reasoning skills: A case of applying anchored instruction College of Education, De La Salle University

Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt. (1992). The Jasper Experiment: An Exploration of Issues in Learning and Instructional Design. Educational Technology Research and Development, 40(1), 65-80. Retrieved from

Save the Fuzzies!!

The project that I chose to explore was Fuzzy Chronicles: Newtonian Dynamics (ID: 14445).  This is a physics lesson aimed at students grades 9-12 and requires about 4-5 hours to complete.  I was drawn to this project particularly for a couple reasons.  First, the layout is like a space mission where you have to watch tutorials, play missions to try and navigate spaceships through obstacles in order to save Fuzzies, and complete multiple choice responses to check your understanding.  I was also intrigued how this project was different than many of the others I explored as it was completely based in Flash.  In the editor view for this project I was completely overwhelmed because, unlike some of the other projects, the different steps were not discrete and pages didn’t completely reload.  Nevertheless I explored this project and did notice changes I would make in order to improve the overall experience.  I did also explore Investigating Planetary Motion and Seasons (ID: 20964) in order to become familiar with what the editor view looked like in a more traditional lesson; text, images and other media could be manipulated directly allowing for a lot of flexibility.

Flash allowed The Fuzzy Chronicles a unique approach to teaching Newtonian Dynamics through a game; With this platform also came some challenges.  The lessons and tutorials all ran on a loop and were not able to be paused which to me seemed a bit fast.  I found I had to watch a lesson at least three times to get all of the information I needed – I would add the functionality to break each lesson into smaller bits and then either replay, or move on to the next section.  Further, I would supplement the mini-lessons with a question period or additional explanation on the course content; For a physics 11 student, the pace may be correct, but science 9 or 10 (or even younger) would require a little bit more explanation.  For the multiple choice knowledge checks at the end of each mission, more feedback is required.  Hattie and Timperley (2007) state that student feedback is most effective when it notifies the student where they can improve and how the error may have occurred as opposed to just praise or consequences.  If a student gets the question right or wrong, some meaningful feedback needs to be provided.  

Finally, in the spirit of inquiry, I would add functionality to the game that would allow students to simply play through all the missions without having to view the lessons – once students mastered the game, coming back to explore the theory behind it could provide very meaningful and deep learning.

I’ve included a link in case any of you want to check the game out!  


Hattie, J., & Timperley, H. (2007). The Power of Feedback. Review of Educational Research, 77(1), 81-112. Retrieved from

Linn, M. C. (07/01/2003). Science education (salem, mass.): WISE design for knowledge integration John Wiley & Sons Inc.

Making the curriculum engaging…

TPACK is a framework for online learning that has three distinct areas: Technological Knowledge, Pedagogical Knowledge and Content Knowledge.

Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK) relates to the pedagogical strategies we use to teach our course content. This area is created with the intersection of Content Knowledge (this is what we are teaching) and Pedagogical knowledge (method we use to teach the content).  Content knowledge is generally acquired through undergraduate studies in a subject area or professional development.  Examples of Technological knowledge can be things such as video services such as YouTube and Khan Academy, or laptops and projectors, cameras, Google Apps for Education (Docs, Sheets, Classroom) to name a few.  Further, Pedagogical knowledge can be using methods such as direct instruction, inquiry, or project based learning etc.

Technological Content Knowledge (TCK) is knowing which type of technology will be most well suited to deliver the content to our students.  

When these three areas overlap, we are left with TPACK: the idea that we can use technology to aid in our pedagogical approach to teaching the content to our students.

An example of how I use PCK in my practice is in my Marketing 11 class.  Students need to be proficient in the concept of a target market.  My current class is made up of individuals who are all very interested in fast, expensive cars and so I found this to be a great opportunity to explore the course content.  Students often think that just because they purchase something, they are automatically the target market for that product.  For example, a couple of the students own new, full size trucks and through classroom discussion thought that Ford and Dodge were actively advertising to them.  Through different exercises (classroom discussions, extensive print and video ad analysis) we were able to learn about target markets; the hope with choosing vehicles was so that students could interact with the content, reflect on their own biases and opinions and construct new knowledge leading to deeper learning.


Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. (2006). Technological pedagogical content knowledge: A framework for teacher knowledge. The Teachers College Record, 108(6), 1017-1054