Author Archives: seanturn

Engagement, Assessment & Barrier

Ms. G is currently a grade 6 elementary teacher at a school in downtown Vancouver. This is only her second year of teaching where before she worked in marketing. The interview was conducted face to face in her classroom at 8:30 a.m. on Monday May 29, 2017.

Three summary keywords that echoed throughout my interview were: engagement, assessment and barrier. Ms. G uses technology in her math class everyday. She uses her Smartboard to, “… watch videos, complete interactive activities that promote student engagement, and for teacher demonstration.” If she wants to capture student’s attention in math, she’ll either use Khan Academy to demonstrate a concept or find a mini video clip on Youtube. She appreciates how convenient it is to have a Smartboard in class and feels that she’s pretty fortunate since not all teachers have one. She uses an online copy of her student’s workbook so that the entire class can do math examples from the book on the Smartboard. Ms. G stated that by doing so it will help, “…students assess their own understanding.” One area of incorporating technology into the classroom that she would like to learn more on is assessment.

Ms. G mentioned in the interview that she would like, “…to use other programs that would help with formative and summative assessment like quick little quizzes or tests where students can log-in and track their progress throughout the unit. I would like to set-up the quizzes so that they correlate with what we just learned in class rather than random questions from the textbook.” I mentioned if she has considered creating her own online quizzes and her response was that, “I don’t have the time in my busy schedule.” Again, this sentiment is the same view as other teachers such as in Video Cases 5 & 6 in our previous lesson.

The third keyword that stuck out in my interview with Ms. G is barrier. As she states, “Resources are a huge barrier to teachers and students in the public school system since you cannot guarantee that technology is available when you need it.” At her school, they have 2 iPad carts which is shared amongst 18+ divisions. You have to book far in advance if you want to use them in your class. Also, her union advocates against the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) model which is another barrier in the way of incorporating technology into the class.  Since her schoolboard won’t provide more funding for other technological devices in class, she still allows her students to BYOD but with certain restrictions.

In conclusion, Ms. G uses technology wherever she can in her math class but would like to learn how to assess her students while using it. If given the chance, she, “…would be eager to take any training offered by my school board as students are very engaged with technology and learning how it can be embedded across all subjects would be very beneficial.”



Video Cases 5 & 6

The two videos I have decided to examine are video cases 5 and 6. An underlying theme I have noticed between the two case studies is the lack of professional development opportunities and time to incorporate technology in the classroom for teachers. In video case 5, the retiring teacher expresses her frustration due to the fact she isn’t equipped with the knowledge or knowhow with using technology in her class. The student teacher echoes her same concerns. Even though she has been to a few technology workshops within her district, she either can’t seem to find the time or forgets to include technology in her classroom lessons. What I don’t understand with these two teachers is that they aren’t willing to make or find the time. I have come across this same attitude with other teachers I have met in the past, and that they make excuses to not change their current habits or attitude towards using technology in their classrooms. Would more professional development workshops help curb this way of thinking for teachers? If there was more funding and time dedicated in the classroom to teach and incorporate technology, would this help struggling teachers?

In our previous discussion in Lesson 2 Activity 1: Unpacking Assumptions, we were asked, “What is a good use of technology in math and science classrooms?” Teacher S in video case 5 and teacher C in video case 6 both had great examples of incorporating technology into the classroom. From using Garage Band, animated GIF’s, learning different concepts through rap songs to creating podcasts; the students were all engaged. One additional benefit to using technology that I didn’t consider before, is that students are more prone to producing exceptional quality of work if they post something on the internet. If their peers and others can and will view their work, they will want to have their best work posted.

If I were to explore a response to the underlying issue I have raised, I would want to conduct a questionnaire for teachers, students, administrators and parents. Similarly, to the interview we have conducted with a colleague for this MET course. I would want to gather input from the groups mentioned to see what their feelings are towards technology in the classroom. Are they comfortable using it? Do they need more training? Time? Funds? This would help teachers and school districts alike see what needs are not being met.

Is Technology Just Another Tool?

Some notes on:  What “counts” as good use of technology in math and science learning environments.

-Applications and devices that allow students to be actively engaged in their own learning

-educators who embrace change and want to try and implement technology into the classroom

-Used for sharing, communicating and displaying work so others can learn from one another

In a previous MET course, I came across the question, “Is technology just another tool to use in education?” This made me think long and hard. If it isn’t, then what is it? I realized that technology is so much more than just a tool. If it can transform the way we do things, is it then just a tool? For example, I will use the app called Padlet to demonstrate my thinking. Sometimes in class, I will ask my students a question and ask them to answer using this app. For one, it allows other shy students to express their thoughts, and to think and reflect on other’s posts at their own pace. Is Padlet a tool? Well, technically yes but it can transform education.

Ideally, such a learning environment would have each student own their own technological device or have one available at school.  With this however comes cost. At this point, most schools don’t have the funds for every student to have their own device let alone each student bring their own from home.  Some schools do have an iPad cart where classes must share, but this is not available all the time.

Learning through technology could address conceptual challenges. For instance, in last week’s video titled, “A Private Universe” Heather believed Earth’s rotation around the Sun was in a figure eight movement. Instead of relying on the teacher to explain what the real movement is, she could use technology and search it up herself in a matter of seconds. Technology is not just a tool, but has transformed our lives and ways of thinking.

Lesson Learned

What’s interesting to note here in the video titled, “A Private Universe,” is how recent Harvard graduates still don’t know why the Earth has seasons. One would think after years of post-secondary education that there would be far fewer misconceptions on this question coming from 21 out of 23 students who were interviewed. Either, these students still don’t understand after being taught why Earth has seasons, or they missed school that day. This proves that misconceptions can happen to anyone, from any educational background. Aguirre, Haggerty and Linder (1990) realize that children bring their own theories on how things work and on the world into the science classroom and us educators have to recognize this and embrace it. As in the case with Heather.

For Heather, she had many misconceptions about Earth Science. For one, she believed the orbital path of the Earth around the Sun is in a figure eight movement. Why does she think this? At first, she has no idea and then remembers that she saw another diagram from her science textbook about something different and assumed this orbital path was for the Earth too.  Posner, Strike, Hcwson and Gertzog (as cited in Shapiro and Bonnie, 1988, p. 99) presented a great argument; that learning is a rational activity where learners make their judgements solely based on the evidence available at the time. I agree with this statement. Learning needs to be inquiry based. For example, every science unit I teach to my students I have a wonder wall where they ask questions that they want to know the answer to. I hope over the course of the unit that they will have answered many of them, if not all. We use science interactive notebooks, have guest speakers, conduct experiments and ask each other questions. There are times where I will teach facts, but mostly I want my students to learn through inquiry.

Posner, Strike, Hcwson and Gertzog (1982) have outlined student’s misconceptions through a process called conceptual change. More specifically assimilation and accommodation. With assimilation, students use existing concepts and theories to deal with new phenomena. With accommodation, student sometimes can’t grasp new concepts or ideas and thus need to reorganize his/her previously learned concepts. In Heather’s case, I believe she needed to assimilate her concepts with the new one learned on Earth’s rotation around the Sun. She had the right idea, just needed to modify the orbit to a more elliptical pattern.


Aguirre, J. M., Haggerty, S. M., & Linder, C. J. (1990). Student‐teachers’ conceptions of science, teaching and learning: a case study in preservice science education. International Journal of Science Education12(4), 381-390.

Posner, G. J., Strike, K. A., Hewson, P. W., & Gertzog, W. A. (1982). Accommodation of a scientific conception: Toward a theory of conceptual change. Science education66(2), 211-227.

Shapiro, B. (1994). What Children Bring to Light: A Constructivist Perspective on Children’s Learning in Science. Ways of Knowing in Science Series. Teachers College Press, 1234 Amsterdam Ave., New York, NY 10027

Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race

I remember the first time I was introduced to the internet (dial-up), in grade 7. Our teacher, Mr. Marshall, spoke about this strange information sharing system called the internet back in the day. I didn’t understand what he was talking about, or how it worked, but I do remember viewing the current locations of each dog sled team on a single computer. I remember listening to the computer trying to attempt to connect to the internet, bringing up a webpage, and all of us students were confused. My teacher was so excited, and we couldn’t understand why. When I think back on it, we were witnessing the change of education and the way we now live. My students don’t know how I survived without technology; ie. the internet, cellphones, iPads etc. I always explain to them that it wasn’t that long ago when all of these technologies came into play.

Hello From Vancouver!

Hi everyone,

My name is Sean Turner and I’m currently a grade 6/7 teacher at a school in downtown Vancouver. This is my 9th MET course and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel! On top of learning the new BC curriculum, I’m also learning the MYP IB program (Middle Years Program, International Baccalaureate). Our school’s grade 6 and 7 classes teach this and I find it fits perfectly with the new BC curriculum.

I love travelling in my spare time. I’ve been lucky enough to have taught at schools in South Africa and the United Arab Emirates. From one extreme to the other.

With this course, I hope to learn about STEM challenges/theories, and more engaging ways of teaching math and science using technology.

I look forward to working with you all!