Posted in Classroom Ideas, EDCI336, Technology


Today we had the privilege of learning about Minecraft from six local middle school students.  Their excitement for this game world was amazing.  Given the right resources, a class can use the game to fulfill curricular competencies in school.

According to the official website (


Minecraft: Education Edition is an open-world game that promotes creativity, collaboration, and problem-solving in an immersive environment where the only limit is your imagination.

Sounds cool!  

Most of the student presenters stated that they started with the pocket edition, but eventually progressed to the full game at home.  When given the opportunity to use it in the classroom, they jumped on it – even devoting break time to building worlds for other classrooms!  In some cases, students may not even register that they are learning.  What an amazing thing  to be able to satisfy school needs with something that makes students so excited.  If this game gets them inspired, I say, let them run with it!

The only real issue is that with certain screens MOTION SICKNESS can be a problem . . . And for me it was a real issue.

If it works for you, and your classroom, awesome!  There are so many possibilities!

Posted in Technology

VGO and Coming to Class Remotely

Something to think about . . .

Can students get the same experience (or a comparable one) by coming to school virtually?


There are lots of interesting forms of technology that allow communication with people geographically separated from you.

Skype is a big one.  The possibilities of “brining in” a speaker using this technology mean reduced travel time for that speaker (and travel cost!).  It would be possible to speak with a professional halfway around the world – either as a whole class or as an individual or small group.  When you use video conferencing it opens up so many avenues of communication and knowledge transfer.


In tech class, we were shown a VGO device.  A robot (on wheels) that allows someone to be present in the room without actually being there.  They have control over this robot – they can move it around, they can see whatever the robot can see, they can even make it talk for them.


There is certainly a novelty effect in play in the beginning.  After we were introduced to the device, a classmate of mine opted to attend class this way.  At first, people were more interested in it than in the lesson, but that died down with time.  Like everything new, the novelty wore off.



While the technology is pretty cool, it did get me thinking.  Can a student truly get what they need from school (or any social situation) by joining in remotely?  I’m not sure.


Where I know it is beneficial is in the cases of students not being able to come to class.  Maybe illness makes it so that it would be unsafe for the student to come to school (either for themselves, or for their classmates) or anxiety makes full participation impossible.  In those cases, the technology would enable the students to participate as much as they can.  It is more than they were getting by being withdrawn from the social circle completely, doing the work on their own, so that’s a plus.


In this day and age, when technology is continually changing, it excites me to see what we will be able to do with our classes.  So much learning happens beyond the four walls of the classroom, so it’s about time we acknowledged it too!



Posted in Classroom Ideas, English Language Arts, Technology

Voice Thread

A classmate of mine shared about Voice Thread in class the other day.


There certainly isn’t a shortage of amazing websites or apps to use in a classroom these days!


Using Voice Thread, students are able to make an audio recording of them answering questions posed in class to demonstrate their learning and then their classmates are able to comment on their post.


When used by the whole class: What an amazing alternative to the traditional oral presentation!  But, it is also something that could be used as a way to differential a project within a classroom, if you have students who are unable to communicate their understanding in written form (for whatever reason).  Using this technology, or something like it, you would be able to assess their understanding of a science or math concept, say, without having their writing abilities getting in the way.


You might find this link to a Voice Thread Education Website of use when you are first starting out using this technology in your classroom.



Lastly, I’ll leave you with this:

7 Things You Should Know About . . . Voice Thread


Happy Exploring!!!


Posted in Classroom Ideas, EDCI336

Genius Hour

Taking a step towards using a model of inquiry in your classroom.


When all you know is traditional instruction, the “sage on the stage” method of teaching, thinking about switching to a model of inquiry might seem IMPOSSIBLE.


That’s where Genius Hour and things like it come in.  Like every other new subject or way of thinking, your students will need to be scaffolded into inquiry-based learning and Genius Hour lets you do that.


Once you and your students are comfortable with the procedure of Genius Hour, you might want to move into a guided, whole-class inquiry to demonstrate the process of connecting multiple curricular competencies and content items from the curriculum.


The whole thing is exciting!  I look forward to have the chance to journey through this way of thinking with my future students.  I’d love to come alongside each and every one of them as the “guide on the side,” while they find their passions and explore things that interest them.

Posted in Art, Math, Passion Project

Fraction Quilt

Fractions can be a really awful experience for some students, so this could make the subject more interesting and more engaging.
I found this idea on Teachers Pay Teachers from Real Teachers Learn, if you’d like to see her version click here.  I didn’t purchase that resource, as I only used it for inspiration.
This activity does assume that there is already a base knowledge of fractions, but not much beyond that.


Step 1. Students colour a 10 x 10 block grid using whatever colours they choose.  You might want to specify a minimum number of colours.  These will turn out amazing regardless of how they choose to fill the grids out.

Fraction Quilt by ArtsyInquiringMinds / CC BY 2.0
The template in the above photo is found here.
Step 2. Count out the number of squares for each colour.  Depending on the grade you teach and the goals you have for the lesson, you may ask the students to state those fractions in lowest terms and as a decimal.

Colour Fractions by ArtsyInquiringMinds / CC BY 2.0
Step 3. Have each student calculate a set number of fraction addition equations, like the ones shown below.  You may also have them change it into decimal form.

Fraction Addition by ArtsyInquiringMinds / CC BY 2.0
Step 4. Since a whole class set of Fraction Quilts are really quite a sight, I would suggest you find some wall space for everyone to enjoy their handiwork.  If there is somewhere in the school hallway that would be even better, as it might just inspire someone else to look at fractions in a different way!


Hope you liked this idea!  Happy teaching!

Posted in Art, Math, Passion Project

Name Art

What’s in a name?   


(And there’s perimeter around it!)
When learning about perimeter and/or area of irregular shapes, here’s a fun lesson do that.

Using graph paper, instruct students to draw their names using only whole blocks.


Lowercase Laura by ArtsyInquringMinds / CC BY 2.0

Uppercase Laura by ArtsyInquringMinds / CC BY 2.0

It is important to only use whole blocks, so that calculating the perimeter is simple.  If you want to make it more complicated, you could allow diagonally cut squares – triangles! – and discuss the Pythagorean Theorem.

If you know the units of your graph paper, then it would be easy to use the proper units, but if not, students can simply use generic labels of “units” and “units squared” as I have done.

Lowercase Area and Perimeter by ArtsyInquringMinds / CC BY 2.0

Uppercase Area and Perimeter by ArtsyInquiringMinds / CC BY 2.0

This project allows students to create their own project.  They can colour in their letters however they choose – or you could tie it purposefully into an art lesson using an element of design such as texture or colour.  

I think it would make a great display on a hall or classroom bulletin board, as well!

You can find the blog that inspired this project here.

Happy Calculating!

Posted in Classroom Ideas, Technology

PSII – Pacific School of Innovation and Inquiry

Yesterday, we had a tour of a local independent school called
Pacific School of Innovation and Inquiry
(or PSII, for short)

While my classmates and I are in an elementary teaching program, and this school is a high school, it was very interesting to see an alternative to the traditional school model.

Here’s their website, if you’d like to check it out:


Take a look at these competencies!  Every student (read: every person) could stand to benefit from some thinking on these topics.

This is their pathway to learning:

This is how they approach inquiry-based learning:

Jeff Hopkins (seen in the video below) is the man behind this interesting school.  He saw a need within the public school system and moved to create the change he wanted to see in the world.


The way we think of education needs to change and Jeff and his school community are making strides to accomplish that!