Author Archives: Michelle Furlotte

Video Cases-My Reflections

The collection of videos reflected current successes and concerns around the use of technology in math and science classrooms. . Although they highlighted the underlying issues with the integration of technology into the math and science classrooms they also showed the light at the end of this tunnel.

The issues seemed to correlate with my thoughts as I unpacked some of my own assumptions. Access to computer labs as well as time came up several times within the videos. In addition, the lack of training or perceived lack of competence using technology to teach was revealed when the new teacher said she felt that she wanted to incorporate technology in her teaching, but that she felt pressured due to time constraints and the fact that she felt that she didn’t have enough prior knowledge of the technology to teach it properly. She also felt unprepared to troubleshoot in the moment, which seemed to make her fearful of trying to incorporate the technology.  Considering student issues with technology, interestingly one of the students videoed reflected on the graphing calculator and although she used it because she said it saved time and she was “lazy”, she also relayed the fact that she felt that it disguised her mathematical problem solving and that she preferred pencil and paper to work out her math problem, at least initially.

I also noticed that technology was viewed as a “time” saver in some ways, and in another way was used for project based work, which tended to take more time and be more in depth. I think this was based on how the technology was used, whether for solving a specific problem or creating a presentation. This was just a reflection.

Another theme I noticed was that the technology used seemed to be limited to a few “tried and true” uses. This is not an underlying issue, just a reflection I made as I watched the videos. I think with technology often educators become familiar with a specific set of technology uses or presentation tools and stick with them. They also share these with other educators and so these get used more and more. One example of this would be the overuse (in my view) of PowerPoint when there are many more varied options available to present information in the same way.  Again, this is probably due to time and training.

On the positive side technology was being used in many of the classrooms. From Powerpoint to podcasting, internet researching, animated GIFs, Flash presentations, graphic calculators to problem solve, videotaping creative dramatic science representations, soundscapes, etc. Both educators and students found it engaging and it helped to promote teamwork and partnered problem solving. In addition, pencil and paper was not thrown out the window but was seamlessly incorporated as part of the learning process, technology working alongside this. Different student learning needs were met with the variety of ways they could both access learning and present their understandings.

In considering a response to some of the underlying issues I chose to focus on using the resources available to the best of their capabilities. New teachers should be mentored and supported through being teamed up with more seasoned educators and then allowed to use technology in their teaching with guidance and supports. In addition, educators should be given time to share technology tools at staff meetings or division meetings. Students should also be utilized as an important resource when integrating technology in your teaching. Often the students are able to figure out how to use the technology, or already know how to use it and can show the teacher. Teachers need to bring the technology in, even if they are feeling a bit unsure. Even if the educator can wrap there head around one new technology tool, it may promote them to use it and to slowly integrate technology into their classroom.

In summation, I think it is important that technology is providing for differentiation. Students are not only bound to textbooks and written work, but are able to act, produce, reflect, create, problem solve, hypothesize, cooperate and present using technology as a tool. This is important and is providing for a deeper and more engaging learning experience for many.  I look forward to reading your reflections.



My perspectives on the promise of technology in math and science classrooms

When considering good use of technology in the math and science classroom my ideas always hit the wall of what I view as actually financially feasible.  With any new technology, and in fact even with technology which is well entrenched in learning institutions, the problem of financing updates to both hardware and software as well as employing enough information technology specialists to deal with these issues is daunting.

When I consider my vision of good use of digital technology in the math and science classrooms, I need first to consider what is currently taking place. Firstly, there is a lack of strategic planning. There needs to be a school improvement plan or even better a school board improvement plan that indicates ways that technology should (can?) be incorporated into our classrooms to support students. It should outline a plan to train educators in a variety of technology tools, provide an outline as to how technology can and should be used and accessed by students, and should involve some way of reporting back to ensure that these steps are being taken and how to move forward from here. Technology cannot continue to be seen as an “add-on” but rather an integral part of good math and science learning.  I fear this does not happen because our school board does not have the means to make this happen, so they are rolling out new hardware with a lack of training and follow up, or the training is done once and there is no follow up.  So at our school board there are pockets of good technology use happening, but it is inconsistent and beliefs about the “promise” of technology are divergent.

After reading the course readings for module A, I found a connection between my initial thoughts and the ideas outlined in the article about the Brewster Academy. I was struck by the extent of the overhaul they felt was needed in order for technology enabled school reform to occur. The considerations required to pull this off were immense and included needs assessment, policy building, instructional supports, professional development, hardware considerations, personnel requirements, costs, etc. (Bain, Bain & Smith, 2000). As I noted earlier, technology as an “add-on” simply does not work. The Brewster Academy, in attempting to reform their school started basically at square one and in a way “re-built” their school and how it operated from the ground up, no small feat. It also struck me that they required educators to acquire sophisticated skills in a range of teaching methods and technology applications, and that they placed importance of these of educators understanding the connectedness and interrelatedness of the curricula and technology (Bain, Bain & Smith, 2000).

Since I work in an elementary setting the problems are compounded by the fact that many of the technology initiatives and hardware are earmarked for the high schools or higher educational settings. In addition, our BYOD (Bring your own device) policies are in their infancy and often misunderstood or blatantly shot down in the elementary school setting for fear of using technology to browse social networks, cheat on tests, etc. In addition, we have I-pad carts which can be “signed out” for one period and must be shared with the school. Any productivity done on these I-Pads is then “wiped” as they are charged on the I-Pad cart. The laptop computers have a variety of issues including missing keyboard keys, broken lids, firewalls that severely limit usage as well as the password and login protections that make these devices of limited use to young students. In addition, many of the grade 2 students I teach have limited experience with a keyboard as they are growing up in the generation of “touch screen”, and so they must master this to some degree before using the laptops.

This being said, I envision students using technology seamlessly throughout the day to carry out a variety of investigations, research, watch video, create video, test hypotheses, video chat with other students or experts globally, access virtual field trips, present information digitally or in other technological formats, use technology as an assistive device, capture images and sound, remix and create new products, view and create 3 dimensional objects to gain deeper understandings, create stop action products, etc. There are so many ways technology CAN be incorporated but there must be:

  • technology available
  • expertise available (even if this comes from the students, which often it does
  • time available. By this I mean, to work around sharing technology, scheduling, curricular demands, workload demands, time for training and professional development, time to “play” with technologies so that we can wrap our head around the capabilities.

One example of this is Google Earth. I am aware of Google Earth and I use it in a very limited way with my students because I have not had the time to learn more about it. From what I have heard there are many amazing ways to incorporate it into teaching, but there are only so many hours in a day and it has stayed on the backburner for me. So again, the promise of technology hits another roadblock. These are my thoughts and I look forward to your comments.



Bain, A., Alan Bain, & David Smith. (10/01/2000). THE journal : Technological horizons in education: Technology enabling school reform Information Synergy.

Conceptual Challenges and Ways to Address Them

After watching the video the concepts within it rang true to me. In my experiences in science, many concepts were taught only once and models, simulations and hands-on experience were limited to what resources were available, which were often slim to none. If models were available, the educators usually stood at the front of the class with the model in front of them as they “taught” us the concept. We did not handle or construct the models. One thing I found interesting was how strongly the students held on to their personal scientific theories. It seems that early experiences learning scientific concepts are fraught with misconceptions that may not be challenged and thus taken as the ultimate truth. I wonder if this is because as children we were not taught to question what we saw in books or what we were taught. We implicitly trusted these sources, including our understanding of 3 dimensional phenomenon which was more often than not, represented in 2-D form (in drawings, graphs, etc.).

A common misconception I have is how our ears “hear” sound. I know it has something to do with vibrations hitting our eardrums, and that the hairs in the ears are called cilia and that the hairs are very delicate and if you damage them you will damage your hearing. Beyond that my lack of full understanding comes to the fore. I remember finding the concept fascinating as I read about it in a science book I had in my home book collection. I read it over and over again as a child. But now that I reflect, I never had a chance in my formal education to revisit the concept; so much of it was lost from my memory. I learned about the parts of the body and some of their rudimentary functions but not in depth. No concepts in biology were hands-on or taught so that we could actually experience the ideas or sensations. No simulations were provided. I do remember watching one video in health class which showed how our digestive system works. I remember it to this day because I could actually “see” inside the body with the use of a mini camera. WOW! powerful stuff.

When I searched for an article about hearing, I found the following information which you can access in the link provided:

So, after reading the information I still had many unanswered questions namely:

What is a sound wave?

How do bones amplify or increase sound? (An analogy might help)

What does it mean when it says hair cells “ride the wave”?

And so on….

Digital technology would allow scientific concepts to “leap from the page” and become more interactive. Simulations, for example, can help students to understand concepts more fully. Being able to take virtual field trips to talk to and learn from scientists around the globe could deepen understanding and allow students to ask important and unanswered questions. Allowing students time to use technology to research a subject area of interest and to use information from a variety of sources including Blogs, videos, simulations, interactive games etc. could also lead to engagement and deeper understandings.

So the question is how can we use digital technology and instructional activities to help children address these conceptions? Kozma (2003) looked at patterns of innovative classroom practices supported by technology, which included the primary, lower secondary, and upper secondary grades. In many of the case studies, science was the subject area.  The case studies found that when students use technology to solve complex, authentic problems that cross disciplinary boundaries, and when educators facilitate this through technology, students are engaged and successful. This constructivist approach promotes knowledge building and moves the students from vessels into which information is imparted into constructors of their own knowledge. The stated impact of the innovation on students was quite broad. The largest number of cases claimed that students acquired ICT skills as a result of the innovation (75%). A large majority of cases claimed students developed positive attitudes toward learning or school (68%), acquired new subject matter knowledge (63%), or acquired collaborative skills (63%) (Kozma, 2003).

Many of these cases from around the world had qualities in common including working collaboratively, using technological tools to research, publish work and create new products. In addition, educators moved more toward facilitation as opposed to being in the “traditional” role of teacher as imparter of knowledge. In fact, Kozma (2003) found that when students used technology to research, solve, design and self- assess they improved their problem solving skills, information management skills, collaboration and communication skills. So, it seems that technology can help us with conceptual understandings, but it also depends on how the educator allows the technology to be used.


How do we hear? (2015, July 20). Retrieved from

Robert B. Kozma (2003) Technology and Classroom Practices, Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 36:1, 1-14, DOI: 10.1080/15391523.2003.10782399

Logo Programming or “Turtle”

When reflecting on some of my earliest interactions in an educational setting, the Logo program came to mind. I distinctly remember being brought as a whole class to the “computer lab” and being promised that we would be learning an “amazing new tool” to help us learn all about computers while having fun. Just being able to sit down at a computer keyboard was exciting at the time, and we all looked forward to this part of the day.  The “Turtle” was basically the cursor in this program, and using standard commands we were learning the basics of programming. We could draw geometric shapes! I remember reflecting that, “there must be more to this machine”, and wondering why we were resigned to play on “Logo” every time we went to the computer lab. Now as I reflect, I realize that the educators were also still learning how to use this “computer” in education as well, and they taught us how to use this program because it came with a guide and they could understand it. (Well, it wasn’t that complicated). Overall, now this has me reflecting about whether or not we as current educators are providing enough rich and meaningful experiences with the technology that most students have at their fingertips.

Introduction-Looking Forward to Learning with You

Hello! My name is Michelle Furlotte and this is my last MET course before graduation. I live in Thunder Bay, Ontario, which is in Northern Ontario, Canada. When taking this course I hope to gain further insights into incorporating technology in new ways in the science and math areas and I also hope to learn about new technology tools and how these are used to further explore science in our world. I also look forward to the wealth of ideas and experiences that are shared in this course. I have 2 children, Eden, 9 and Ariah 7 and a partner, Peter. I love to challenge myself, have adventures, travel, learn, laugh and I appreciate blunt, to the point people. I find it hard to summarize myself because I have many interests and I’m constantly changing my interests and myself as I move through life! I love walking in nature, skiing, dancing, good music, Barbados and anywhere with a beach, art, books, big smiles and positive vibes. Now I sound corny! Anyways…I’m looking forward to getting to know all of you and learn from you.  I do hope that I will get help working through this course as I teach elementary school (and have for many years) and from what I have read it is high school based.  That being said, I hope that the ideas explored can be modified to suit my teaching and professional practice. Professionally I am involved in several provincial committees, one of which explores professional development and curriculum and how these are implemented and how they affect educators and students, I teach grade 2 full time, I facilitate educators from across the province as they pursue action research projects, I recently published a research paper re: inquiry learning and I continue to look for opportunities to grow in my profession and help other educators. I am passionate about progressive education and also passionate about making sound choices and not just implementing new initiatives without debate and without sound research and self reflection. If you are interested in my professional pursuits I am on “Linked In”, and this space provides a more detailed summary of my career.  I look forward to getting to know you in this space!