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, 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!

Posted in Classroom Ideas, Technology

Learning to Code with Swift Playground

This is not my first foray into coding, but it has been a while.  My first degree included several computer science and software engineering courses, so playing around with the Swift Playground App has been a bit like returning to a loved hobby after a long time.

I love to jump into a new app with both feet and very little instruction, and this was definitely possible with Swift Playground.

Check out this YouTube video for a brief introduction.


Here’s a great article to read about the app – it explains it better than I can, so head over there and give it a read.

As a potential tool to be used in a classroom setting, Swift Playground has many things to offer.  Plus, because it’s a game, students may not even realize they are learning!

Skills to practice:

  • Directions – right vs left
  • Spelling
  • Typing (if you don’t use the quick prompt options given at the bottom of the screen)
  • Counting

Characteristic and Methods to master:

  • Logical thinking
  • Problem solving
  • Predicting patterns and behaviours
  • Trial and Error
  • Persererance
  • Patience

These all seem like worthy things to allocate class time to, if you ask me!

If you can get your hands on an iPad, I highly recommend giving this app a go.  There is lots of learning and fun to be had!


*** Something else you might like to check out: Another student in my PDPP Elementary cohort, Genelle, focused on a different Apple coding app – check out her blog here for an introduction to an app called Scratch Junior that would be a great way to teach kindergarten students how to code.  The app uses symbols instead of words, so kids aren’t excluded from learning to code simply because they have not mastered the concept of ‘words’ yet.