Author Archives: tyler kolpin

Using technology to maximize student learning

Pedagogic Content knowledge is an area of and Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge are significant theories in the teaching profession.  As we all have experienced at some point in our academic studies, great researchers do not always equate to great teachers.  As a teacher, it’s not just about knowing content, but being able to convey information in a way that it understood by the audience (i.e. students) in the classroom.  As far as educational technologies is concerned, teachers that employ ePCK, integrate technology in a way that maximizes students learning (Koelher et al, 2006).

When approaching a lesson the technology employed should never be chosen first, then the content and knowledge.  Teachers should decide what the end goal or competency is that they want their students to have, and then investigate if there are way to weave technology into them mix.  As Koelher et al (2006) states, technology should be used in a way that enhances the lesson.  Something to be mindful of as teachers, is to not focus too heavily on all areas of TPACK at the same time.  Koelher et al (2006) mentions that students can feel overwhelmed when their teachers focus too heavily on developing their content and technological knowledge all at once.

I recently did a class activity where I sent the students an excel file with data on the times when the ocean was at high tide and low tide. We had spent some times prior discussing the phases of the moon and the gravitational influence on the ocean water.  Then they investigated how the times changed different times of the year in different regions of the world. They choose a country and researched how the changing phases of the moon, seasons and orbit impacted that particular country certain times of the year.


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

Deeper Learning

I would define educational technologies as utilizing any too to enhance and transform students learning to take place across multiple modalities. It’s important for students to have a learning experience where they can dig deep into a particular concept and really master it rather than skim the surface of a many concepts.  I’m a big fan of project based learning and I find students are able to really own a topic when they can explore it in depth. I find educational technologies to be the rope the somewhat ties everything together. My students enjoy keeping the conversation around classroom topics going even after the 3 o’clock bell through our learning management system. It demonstrates to me how invested they are in a topic and allows we to guide their learning more clearly.

Integration, Engagement, Workflow – Interview Abstract

Integration, Engagement, Workflow


Mr. C is a grade 7 teacher that works for the Vancouver Board of Education that was interviewed on his use of technology in his science and math lessons. His qualification are a B.Ed. and B.A.. He is involved in teaching coding and HTML to his students.  He is a technology mentor and has worked at the district level on various projects related to aboriginal issues.



Integrating technology through access


Mr. C discusses how it was challenging to incorporate technology into his program because not all students had a device to use. He states that “once I was able to provide each student with a device, teaching workflow…made it possible to increase the use of technology. This is an issue that I find can sometimes hinder my own practice when there are not enough devices available.  Students have to be given the opportunity to be creative in their own independent space sometimes.  It can be challenging to really to use a learning management system when the students don’t always have access to the devices. Mr. C started with 10 Macbooks and then expanded his collection of computers over the past several years.  However, with students choosing to bring in their own devices, the needs for the school to provide each student a device is not as necessary anymore.


Student Engagement with Technology


Mr. C will use programs and apps that allow students to utilize any device in the classroom. He also uses many reading, math and science websites and programs. Some of them include and (which student’s read for content in the field of science). In order to provide the students with hands-on (manipulative learning) in mathematics he uses  This provides students with various drills and games to further develop this skills. For science presentation he uses glogster and for math khanacademy.  From the multitude of applications he utilizes, it’s obvious that he is quite embracive of new programs makes great attempts to find students programs that suit their learning needs. One of the most interesting things that I found was that Mr. C is completely self-taught when it comes to using technology in the classroom.  He encourages his students to play with technology  through trial and error and in order to master how to use something. Mr. found the many of the students in other classes at his school were “envious” of he used technology with his own students.


Efficient Workflow:


Efficient workflow and organization are important aspects of students learning, especially when the amount of content increases.  Mr. C discussed how “students agree  that doing things online… means less [performance] issues around executive functioning, organization and accountability.” With all of the tasks that students need to complete in a given school work week, he felt passionately that technology provided the structures to keep students organized and accountable.



In conclusion, Mr. C was able to demonstrate tremendous mastery with the different educational tools he uses in his classroom. He seems to be willing to work with any types of device as long as it can run the internet.  He emphasized that effective workflow is necessary in order to maintain good organization in his class with technology.


If you would like to check out my transcript Q&A, see the below google doc link

Thank You,



adapting to your learning environment

There are a few issues that stood out to me in the videos.  The first issues that was discussed in a few of the videos by the interviewee was access to technology.  Some of the schools seemed to have limited access to the resources in order meet the daily needs of their program.  For example, in Case Study 2, the teacher that taught his students to use the graphing calculators mentioned that it was almost impossible to have access to the computer labs because other departments in the school were always using them for other purposes.  I was intrigued with how inventive he was with his use of the graphing calculators to teach coding. This was a device was portable and attainable for a relatively low cost through the Parent Advisory Committee.


The teacher in the elementary space science used a creative way to get the students to think about the complexities of space. I loved how she paired the students up to work collaboratively on a project with the laptop to create soundbytes. This was also a method that the teacher with the graphing calculators used. He made sure he had some at least one students in each group that would be stronger in terms of their knowledge of technology.  When the students presented the work, he asked the class to help the one teen adjust his code so that it would accomplish something else.


The elementary space science teacher had a unique demographic to deal with in her classroom.  Most of the students were not from the local area so that language skills were not typical for that region.  She used technology to approach the curriculum in a way that was more visual and tactile to help the students grasp the concepts.  Technology can be used as a way to bridge the gap in areas that a student may be struggling in.  For example, a student’s written output could be weak but maybe they can demonstrate their understanding of the content through some sort of video or audio presentation.

Using Technology to Engage

Good digital technology can be hard to come across in the classroom.  There’s a lot of free software and videos available through the internet, but some of the most best videos and interactive programs have paid subscriptions. There are many different approaches to how digital technologies could be used.  For example, a teacher may have the students using the digital technology throughout the duration of the lesson.  Other times, the technology may just be used by the teacher to demonstrate or visualize a concept.


Some of the challenging learning needs in the classroom may be addressed through the use of digital technologies.  For example, students weak with writing output may be able to demonstrate their understanding through the use of digital technology. English Language Learners as well as any student for that matter benefit greatly from seeing visual models of concepts that may be part of a class discussion.


I use a program with my grade 4s that focuses on helping them learn their math facts. Explore Learning has a great app that can be used in any browser as well as on their app on the iPad. What I like about the program is that he channels the questions towards the concepts that they are having difficulty with and gives them extra practice in those particular areas.  It allows the students to collect rewards along the way which encourages them to master the skills. The characters in the app are also quite entertaining for the students to watch as they complete their program.

Conceptual Challenges

Heather and many of her peers we confronted with having to compare their notions of how the Earth orbited the Sun with factual information.  The student’s initial thoughts were that seasons were affected by the earth being closer or further from the Sun. There were also a lot of misconceptions in regards to the phases of the Moon.  The students struggled to explain the most basic concepts orally and through the use of drawing a diagram.


I was actually just teaching a lesson on the Earth’s orbit, axis tilt, hemispheres, and seasonal impact to my fourth graders and it was interesting to hear their thoughts on the matter. Some of their ideas were quite similar to the answers the students gave in the video we watched. I rarely have the student’s use a textbook in the class because I find it quite boring and noninteractive.  I brought out the models of the planets and showed some videos on the projector, as well as gave them scenarios to apply their knowledge.  Most of my students are tactile learners and once they were able to manipulate the model of the solar system, things became more clear to them.


As teachers, it is important for us to connect all the little bits of knowledge that they students may have.   Vosniadou et al (1992) suggests that children can have a set of very fragmented ideas about how something works. They may try to connect those ideas in a way that makes sense in their mind.  As a result, this can fuel a misconception that they have believe to be a truth for years if no one challenges their thinking. Vosniadou (1992) goes further to state that children are theory builders and will continually construct  ideas about the Earth around them that are consistent with their personal experience. Posner et al (1982) suggests that teachers focus on the the actual content of the student’s ideas.  They argue that too much emphasis is places on understanding the underlying cognitive structures.


In activating prior knowledge teachers should get a sense of their student’s current understanding of a particular concept. Lucariello (n.d.) suggests that students can have a challenging time changing their ideas on their deeply entrenched thoughts. He suggests that students can help overcome this by their teacher using diverse methods of instruction, and bridging gaps through model based reasoning. Through creating an environment where the students can reflect on their thinking and assess their own understanding of a given topic, the classroom will inch closer to reconciling false notions.




Lucariello, J. (n.d.). How Do I Get My Students Over Their Conceptions (Misconceptions) for Learning? American Psychological Association. Accessed on January 14, 2017 from


Posner, G. J., Strike, K. A., Hewson, P. W. and Gertzog, W. A. (1982). Accommodation of a scientific conception: Toward a theory of conceptual change. Sci. Ed., 66: 211–227. doi: 10.1002/sce.373066020


Vosniadou, S., & Brewer, W. F. (1992). Mental models of the earth: A study of conceptual change in childhood. Cognitive psychology, 24(4), 535-585

Wheel of Fortune

My first experience with technology was when I was around 8 years old.  My uncle brought home a old computer from his work and set it up for us. The only game that the computer seemed to be able to handle as well as the only one that interested me was wheel of fortune. In regards to Mathematics and Science I’ve found that there are many programs that focus mainly on rote skills rather than application.  I received a program grant for my class from explore learning to allow my grade 4s to practice their math facts.  As a result, this has opened up some time for me to focus on more problem solving and applied skills. As far as Science is concerned, last year I got a subscription to the Big History Project. This site allowed me to combine the grade 7 socials and science curriculum into one class.  One struggle I’m having with the grade 4’s this year is that they just don’t seem to be as techy. It’s much more challenging to get them to explore options outside of a math app. I’m wondering how I can get them to be more innovative and be less afraid to take risks when using educational technologies.

Hello From Vancouver

Hi Everyone,

My name is Tyler and I’m currently a grade 4 teacher in the Vancouver School Board.  I can see the light at the end of the tunnel… this is my last term in the MET program. I think one of the most interesting courses I’ve taken in this program was the Text Technologies course last term. I’m hoping from this course to learn new and engaging ways to combine math and science into my classroom. One of the things I’ve noticed about the MET program, is that many of the courses have focused primarily on theory.  It would be wonderful to discover some more practical takeaway programs and apps to incorporate into my teaching.