Friday, July 12, 2019

Accessing Student Voice Through Flip Grid

Accessing Student Voice Through Flip Grid

By: Lindsey Palmer

The Movement:

Similarly, with the advancements in digital technologies, traditional models of teaching and learning have been reshaped to fit today’s digital learners. Learners can now access information anywhere and can show their learning through a variety of multimedia platforms. Learners can now participate in online through global discussions on topics they wish to have their voices and opinions heard. The use of social media and social networking tools is making the world a much smaller place and educators must harness the student’s passion for different issues to access the required engagement for the classroom. 
The student voice movement in education gained momentum quickly, moving worldwide faster than many anticipated. Inspired by the need for student engagement and student ownership, the movement seeks to strengthen the position of students within the school systems. The movement views students as valuable assets for input in education, providing teachers with ideas and opinions, which informs policy makers’ and teachers’ actions. Student voice is seen as a central component in the transformation of students’ experience within the education system and their aspirations as future contributors to society. 

Students as Stakeholders and Agents of Change:

Students must be regarded as stakeholders and change agents. It is clear there are benefits in classroom management, school climate and culture, school restructuring, community connections, and student achievement when students are given autonomy over their own learning. Student voice is linked to young learners’ sense of agency which affects their growth, behavioural and social-emotional development. To encourage student engagement educators must change their mindsets about the learning process to consult with students as their adult allies and mentors. These adults must be attentive listeners as students find value and meaning when having purposeful conversations or educational debates with adults. The end goal of these conversations is to energise both the youth and adults together.

Planning a Student Voice Based School: 

When thinking about setting up an inclusive learning environment that incorporates student voice within the school walls, educators need to promote a habit of consulting students on matters affecting their school directly. Information and issues are always more effective when students find it relevant directly to them and their community. Stimulation of productive adult and youth discourse and mutually respectful protocols for accessing student input need to be at the forefront of any student voice centred classroom.  To have any meaningful effects in a school student voice protocols need to be inclusive, beginning with the premise that everyone belongs and their opinions are valued in the community. When schools are intentional about encouraging students to state their opinions and share their ideas it serves to motivate, improve school climates, and give educators valuable insights to better shape their work. Student voice needs to be woven throughout the daily fabric of the school and continue to reach after school through the programming, field trips, or events.  The largest impact of student voice comes from the students being change makers themselves. Students should lead constructive action by asking questions, listening effectively and taking action to form a solution. 

Implementing Student Voice:

According to Leaning Forward, educators must complete the following five steps when trying to implement student voice within the confines of their classroom walls: Bring all demographics of students, agree on a supported purpose, generate the correct questions, engage beside the youth in the problem solving approach, and make student’s opinions public (Cushman, 2019).

All Students:

It is easy for educators to reach out to students who are always engaged in class; the high academic achievers, athletes, and students who speak up readily. However, it is important to consider all students opinions and encourage the students who seem apathetic or are alienated to have their voices heard. The use of student questionnaires, weekly reflective journals, drop in office hours with adult change makers like teachers or administrators, monthly staff or grade level meetings that students can attend to have their voices heard, a student blog or newspaper can be powerful tools to help all students feel they have been heard.

A Supported Purpose:

Students should be engaged in a questioning paradigm to learn how to formulate questions and research their interests. When students have a chance to learn from each other and find a problem that needs to be addressed within their school community, they become more engaged and take ownership over their own learning. Possible problems that could occur within the community are school safety, student expression, community mentorships, over crowded classes, access to technology of supports, access to health care or counselling, assessment policies, transportation or parking, quality of food or access to food etc. When looking at topic selection it is important to consider wording. Adults and students should identify the target area of concern, state it briefly as a statement rather than a question, and ensure their own bias is not involved in the statement.

Generating the Right Questions:

There are four basic rules to use when engaging learners in a questioning paradigm: Ask as many questions as you can, do not stop to discuss, judge or answer any questions, write down every question exactly as you stated it, and change any statement to a question (Rothstein & Santana, 2012). These rules free youth from the confines or fear of judgment to ask the questions that are really on their minds. This framework allows all questions to receive the same respect and still requires the process to encourage intellectual discipline. 

To Walk Beside:

It is important for adults to engage beside the youth as they formulate ideas, opinions and solutions to problems. As students research and develop new ideas they are engaging with new content knowledge and students will acquire critical thinking skills that will serve well in the future. Of course, students may generate ideas that adults may inherently disagree with or find it difficult to hear. It is important that adults take a step back and try to view opinions or problems as a chance for students to undergo problem-solving in an appropriate way: through a process that is multidimensional, dynamic and open-ended. 
Make Opinions Public: 

Ways video can improve student voice:

One way of engaging the “shy students” is through the use of video recording technology. Video aided self-reflection, advocation, and journaling can help those students be comfortable showing their knowledge and passions. “In 2006, students in a leadership class at a high school in Boston had an idea for a video project. They had noticed that their peers in nearby suburban schools had more interesting classes and a far better record of going on to college. They proposed to go into those schools and interview students and teachers to find out why. The 12-minute video they produced has now been used many hundreds of times by schools around the country,” (Cushman, 2019). 

Make Opinions Public: Video Recording through Flip Grid:

FlipGrid is a new web based platform that is a powerful tool for sharing student voice. It can be used in a variety of ways to engage students as online collaborators and change makers. Students take short video clips of themselves and respond to short discussion prompts. The “grid” can be set up as an open forum for discussion or a closed forum for students to post their personal thoughts. As FlipGrid continues to catch steam, more and more improvements are being made to incorporate the Global Competencies. Students can now engage on #GridPals or #FlipExplorer series or use #FlipAr to post videos to their personal products.

Below find an informative infographic on some useful tools for using FlipGrid in education:

References:Capacity Building Series. (2019). Retrieved from

Cook-Sather, A. (2006). Sound, presence, and power: ‘‘Student Voice’’ in educational research and reform. Curriculum Inquiry, 36(4), 359–390.

Cushman, K. (2019). Retrieved from

Fabienne M. van der Kleij, Comparison of teacher and student perceptions of formative assessment feedback practices and association with individual student characteristics, Teaching and Teacher Education, 10.1016/j.tate.2019.06.010, 85, (175-189), (2019).

Fielding, M. (2001). Students as radical agents of change. Journal of Educational Change, 2(2), 123–141.

Lucas Walsh, Rosalyn Black, David Zyngier and Venesser Fernandes, Harnessing student voice and leadership: a study of one Australian Indigenous leadership program, Pedagogy, Culture & Society, 10.1080/14681366.2018.1502205, (1-19), (2018).

Lieber, C.M. (2009). Making learning REAL: Reaching and engaging all learners in secondary classrooms. Cambridge, MA: Educators for Social Responsibility

Toshalis, E. & Nakkula, M.J. (2012). Motivation, engagement, and student voice. In the Students at the center series. Boston, MA: Jobs for the Future. 


Mobile Technologies and Mobile Learning: How has the use of tablets innovated learning within Secondary School classrooms?

By J. Seif

Key Points From Chapter

  1. Within a Secondary School educational setting, tablets are used to,
    - facilitate direct communication between student-teacher and/or student-student,
    - create learner-centred knowledge construction,
    - provide students with a variety of Apps that stimulate creativity and innovation and,
    - provide students with differentiated learning experiences.
  2. The potential positive impact that tablets have on learning requires that students and teachers have some operational and technological knowledge to implement and use the device to its full potential (Winstead, 2017)
  3. Mobile learning is achievable when mobile devices are used in authentic contexts using technology that has been integrated in meaningful ways that promotes the development of knowledge and the sharing of ideas.
  4. Tablet usage within Secondary Schools has the potential to prepare students for the rapidly developing world.
  5. Teachers require the time and supports to research, find and adapt teaching materials.

Seif, Jennifer, (2019). Mobile Technologies and Mobile Learning: How has the use of tablets innovated learning within Secondary School classrooms?. In Power, R. (ed), Technology and the Curriculum: Summer 2019. [e-Book]. Lethbridge, AB, Canada: Power Learning Solutions. Retrieved from

Tkach, R. (2017). Use of Tablets to Support Students’ 21st Century Skills: A Look Behind the Screen at Knowledge Construction, Collaboration, and Skilled Communication in Language Arts and Science (Master's thesis, Brock University, 2017) (pp. 1-202). St. Catherines: Faculty of Education, Brock University. Retrieved from

Winstead, S. (2017, September 27). 10 Advantages of Using Tablets in the Classroom Environment. Retrieved from

Global Competencies & United Nations SDGs - Are They Part of Your Curriculum Yet?

A couple of weeks ago, our group presented on Maker Ed.  In preparation for that presentation, I decided to “interview” a friend of mine who has been a big Maker Ed advocate for many years. We chatted a bit about how Maker Ed didn’t necessarily require a large investment of money, how teachers could find time to integrate Maker Ed into their practice, and other common Maker Ed topics.  He then shared some photos of what the children in his class had done, and mentioned the phrase “Global Competencies” and “UN Sustainable Goals”. Those two phrases immediately caught my attention. He explained that when he created STEM challenges in his Maker Ed centre, he always tried to incorporate both those concepts in his curriculum. “21st Century Skills?” I asked. “Well, the Global Competencies are similar” he answered, “but the UN Sustainable Goals go deeper. It makes our making meaningful”.  As he spoke, I quickly googled “Global Competencies” and “UN Sustainable Goals” and I found these images:

UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development image retrieved from:

According to the Council of Ministers of Education (n.d.), Global competencies are encompassing “sets of attitudes, skills, and knowledge that can be interdependent, interdisciplinary, and leveraged in a variety of situations both locally and globally.” The Council of Ministers of Education (n.d.), endorse these specific six Canadian global competencies:

*Critical thinking and problem solving
*Innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship
*Learning to learn/self-awareness and self-direction
*Global citizenship and sustainability

I felt I was familiar and was already incorporating these competencies into my curriculum. They felt very similar to the competencies discussed with 21st Century Skills (which have been previously discussed in this blog).  

However, the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) were a different story. I am somewhat embarrassed to say that these goals had never purposefully made an appearance in any of my lesson plans. What are the UN sustainable Development Goals? According to the UN’s "Sustainable Development Goals," (2018) webpage, in 2015 world leaders agreed to 17 Global Goals for sustainable development to help end extreme poverty, inequalities, and climate change by 2030. They are 17 goals aimed at achieving a better and more sustainable future for all of us.  They include global challenges we are currently facing such as poverty, inequality, climate change, peace, and justice. Considering how connected our world is today, it only makes sense that we all need to work together to help solve these challenges. What better platform, or place to begin with than with our students who are our future. These UN SDGs lay a framework to help us get there.

As I researched more into the UN SDG, I discovered various resources that provided information on how to incorporate these goals into all aspects of our curriculum, whether it be in a Maker Space, STEM or other technology integration.  

If you are interested in finding out more about the UN SDGs, I encourage you to visit these websites:

Or follow this hashtag on Twitter: #TeachSDGs


About the sustainable development goals. (2018, May 17). Retrieved from

Council of Ministers of Education, Canada. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Culturally Responsive Teaching and Tech Integration

“Half the curriculum walks in the door when the students do.” —Emily Style (Founding Co-Director of Seeking Educational Equity & Diversity)

I have always believed that quote to be true. To me, culture is one of those elements that are central to learning and teaching. It affects how we communicate and how we receive information. It plays a role in how our thinking process is shaped, and how valued we, and others feel within our classroom.  As educators we aim to create a classroom that is diverse and welcoming of all; a classroom that moves beyond acceptance of differences to the celebration of them. As educators it is our role to ensure that all participants feel valued in the classroom by welcoming diversity, and teaching our students’ often untold stories.  
Culturally Responsive Teaching is a pedagogy that acknowledges, responds to, and celebrates cultures.  It recognizes the importance of including students’ cultural references in our curriculum and offers equitable access to education to all students regardless of culture (Ladson-Billings,1995). Ladson-Billing’s work is the basis of the Ontario Government's (2013) Capacity Building: Culturally Responsive Pedagogy.  The purpose of the pedagogy is to provide inclusivity and equity in classrooms. The full report can be found at 

Some of the characteristics of culturally responsive teaching identified in the report are:

*Socio-cultural consciousness - understanding that socio-cultural structures shape experiences
*High expectations - of students regardless of student background
*Desire to make a difference - act as a change agent to equity
*Constructivist approach - allow learners to construct their own meaning and knowledge (and make connections to their previous knowledge and experiences)
*Deep knowledge of their students - know your students, where they are from and how they learn
*Culturally responsive teaching practices - design lessons around student knowledge and encourage them to grow in their thinking and learning.

Technology integration can help us ensure our classroom is culturally inviting.  Here are some tips on how we can integrate technology into our curriculum to uphold the characteristics of Culturally Responsive Teaching. 

Online Resources provide sources for multicultural and social justice classroom content. Story telling applications such as Storybird supports students’ expression of their identities. Digital images can capture up-to-date situations, scenes, celebrations and traditions that will allow students to see themselves and their culture represented in the classroom. Virtual field trips using applications such as Google Cultural Institute, can provide opportunities for students to experience each other’s culture in a way they could never have before, and through these experiences build an understanding and appreciation of the others in their classroom.  These virtual reality friend trips can be taken using inexpensive devices such as Google Cardboard. For students who are English Language Learners, varied digital resources such as videos, and animations may assist in the students’ grasping the content and/or learning new vocabulary. Video-conferencing tools such as Skype allow for students to interact with people all around the world. Imagine the connections, new learnings, and appreciation that would be gained by having the opportunity to have a conversation with a First Nations elder! The opportunities to integrate technology into Culturally Responsive Teaching are plentiful! 

Image Retrieved From:


Ladson-Billings, G. (1995). Toward a Theory of Culturally Relevant Pedagogy. American Educational Research Journal, 32(3), 465–491.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Coding in K-8 Education: Key Points from eBook Chapter

Coding is becoming more predominant in K-8 education, as it becomes integrated into a range of current curriculum subject areas (Moreno-León, Robles & Román-González, 2016). By learning to code, students are able to develop their computational thinking skills, which are critical for success in today’s educational and career pathways. While differing viewpoints exist regarding how coding should be integrated into education, research is proving that the benefits are immense, fostering increased positive behaviour, creative thinking and engagement. The following infographic visually demonstrates some of the key points to consider when analyzing coding in K-8 education in Ontario specifically. 

While coding is currently optional in the Ontario curriculum, studies show it being integrated into various subject areas to support learner thinking and understanding. The infographic displays benefits, which include fostering general thinking skills, critical thinking, creative thinking, problem solving, reflection, collaboration, communication and time management (Falloon, 2016; Pinto et al., 2018).Criticisms of coding are also outlined, including barriers such as lack of funding, proper training and professional development (Ray & Faure, 2018). Additional criticisms include the theoretical viewpoint that teaching all students how to code is not necessary, as technology is so quickly advancing that by the year 2030 we will simply tell our technology what we want it to do (Marcus & Davis, 2014). 

One example of coding in the K-8 classroom involves a spherical robot called Sphero, which is controlled by students who can input commands into a tablet application. By planning for Sphero to move in a certain pattern or shape, the activity assists in having students meet curriculum expectations in math, specifically in Geometry and Spatial Sense, as well as Patterning and Algebra. Future recommendations include additional research on coding and education, to better determine what methods are effective for what grade levels. Additionally, a form of standardization across school districts or provinces should also be considered.


Falloon, G. (2016). An analysis of young students' thinking when completing basic coding tasks using Scratch Jnr. On the iPad. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning32(6), 576-593.

Marcus, G. & Davis, E. (2014). Do we really need to learn to code? The New Yorker. Retrieved from

Moreno-León, J., Robles, G. & Román-González, M. (2016). Code to learn: Where does it belong in the K-12 curriculum. Journal of Information Technology Education: Research15, 283-303.

Pinto-Llorente, A. M., Casillas-Martín, S., Cabezas-González, M., & García-Peñalvo, F. J. (2018). Building, coding and programming 3D models via a visual programming environment. Quality & Quantity52(6), 2455-2468.

Ray, B. B., & Faure, C. E. (2018). Mini-robots as smart gadgets: Promoting active learning of key K-12 social science skills. In Handbook of Research on Mobile Devices and Smart Gadgets in K-12 Education (pp. 16-31). IGI Global.

Negative Impact of Using Technology: Invasion of Privacy

By: Neelormy Roy

Related image

Rapid development of technology is changing the world around us, and one of the major concerns that come along with technological developments is the issue of privacy. At the rate that technology is advancing towards, it poses new challenges in protecting privacy and personal information (Cakrani, 2013). Using technology has many positive benefits, but also has several negative impacts such as privacy becoming vulnerable when using the Internet or various mobile technology applications (Cakrani, 2013).

As technology becomes integrated into the lives of people, individuals are becoming more comfortable and allowing technology to become more involved in their personal lives (Myhre, 2013). Privacy and protection of personal data are deemed as fundamental human rights (Friedewald & Pohoryles, 2013). With all kind of devices and new technologies that are relied on by people nowadays, privacy and personal data have become a large concern for technology users. Since many people own at least one type of technology device (whether that’s a laptop, cell phone or an IPad) it’s important to realize how these devices are becoming intrusive in the personal lives of people (Myhre, 2013).

Five Major Privacy Concerns with Current Technology

Storage of Personal Information

Personal information is constantly being gathered by personal devices because of people becoming comfortable with storing their personal details and information into their devices whether its contacts, personal messages, photos, banking and credit card details and so forth (Myhre, 2013). In today’s day an age, it may seem normal to be storing personal information on personal devices, but it also means that storing personal information in devices may not always be the safest.

Location Tracking
Most devices that are used by people currently have location tracking features and applications that are included in devices (Myhre, 2013). Applications ranging from Google Maps to Facebook, all use location-tracking features to display your location. Although location-tracking features and applications are useful and fun to use, people have given up their privacy to let the world and other big companies know people’s whereabouts at all time (Myhre, 2013).

Surveillance in Homes and Workplaces
With recent technologies that are making a place in people’s homes and workplaces (such as Google Home and Amazon Echo) it has been quite simple to invite big corporations into personal spaces and invade privacy and collect personal data (“3 Ways the Invasion of Privacy Takes Place Today through Current Technology”, 2017). Although the purpose of these devices is to be home assistants, they are basically ears that have the ability to record, store and report sound within the environment which includes conversations that take place (“3 Ways the Invasion of Privacy Takes Place Today through Current Technology”, 2017). Large corporations can use this kind of data that is picked up and recorded by these devices to create tailed advertising according to the users' preferences. 

Tracking Online Activity

Not only are current technologies able to track locations, personal devices can also, track online activities through tracking cookies or data that is collected through websites and saved on web browsers (Myhre, 2013). Tracking cookies can monitor online activities and web history, which can lead to users seeing personalized advertisements based on their browsing activities. Tracking cookies also have the ability to save personal information and details like addresses, passwords and credit card information which can fall into the hands of hackers and be misused (Myhre, 2013). 

Identity Recognition 

Audio recognition features are not the only threat to privacy, but with most devices having a fitted camera it is important to consider video recognition features as well. An example of this is facial recognition applications that can be found in personal devices. The existence of facial recognition features in devices means that an individual's identity can be matched with online social media platforms (“3 Ways the Invasion of Privacy Takes Place Today through Current Technology”, 2017). This can be done without necessarily having consent from users. 


Cakrani, E. (2013). Technology and Privacy, Internet Effects on Privacy. Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences4(9), 279.

Friedewald, M., & Pohoryles, R. J. (2013). Technology and Privacy. Innovation: The European Journal of Social Science Research, (26)1-2, 1-6, DOI: 10.1080/13511610.2013.768011 

Learning Mind. (2017, November 12). 3 Ways the Invasion of Privacy Takes Place Today through Current Technology. [Blog post] Retrieved from

Myhre, J. (2013, August 20). Technology is Invading Our Privacy. [Blog post] Retrieved from

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

The Importance of Digital Accessibility

In reading through the compilation of relevant and intriguing blog posts here, the importance of digital accessibility comes into play, especially when incorporating multimedia elements. Regulatory laws exist in Ontario to allow the province to be more accessible for people with disabilities, enabling them to more actively participate within their communities (Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2019). The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) in particular, is a law that sets out a process to implement and enforce standards that aim for an accessible Ontario by 2025 (Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2019). The goal of this act, passed in 2005, is essentially to identify, remove and prevent barriers for people with disabilities.

The AODA provides five key standards to consider when improving upon accessibility in Ontario: Customer Service, Information and Communication, Transportation, Employment and Design of Public Spaces. The “Information and Communication Standards” section in particular, outlines how information and communications should be provided in accessible formats whenever possible (Inclusive Design Research Centre, 2019). The section further states that educational institutions must also provide academic resources in accessible formats whenever possible (Inclusive Design Research Centre, 2019), making it especially relevant to teachers.

When thinking about incorporating accessibility into digital platforms and accompanying learning experiences, inclusivity for students with both low vision/blind and deaf/hard of hearing impairments comes to mind. While it is well-documented that visual representations and multimedia components can largely enhance understanding for visual learners (Nusir, Alsmadi, Al-Kabi, & Sharadgah, 2013), we must not forget about accessibility when choosing to incorporate such media. For example, infographics are often incorporated to visually demonstrate a large quantity of information in an appealing, efficient manner. However, teachers must ensure that the information given in any graphics, is also available as text that can be read by assistive technology. If information is represented only by media, or for instance an infographic, then the information may not be accessible to all learners. Other students who use assistive technology may also be unable to benefit from certain types of media, such as those who speak English as a second language

Thus, while media can (and should) be incorporated into teaching with technology and digital resources, this engaging supplement to education should be thoughtfully chosen with accessibility in mind. Thus, when choosing digital resources in daily practice, educators should be aware of how inclusive types of media will ultimately better serve students, as well as ensure compliance with regulatory requirements.

Additional Reading:

How to Incorporate Accessibility into Teaching and Training
How Accessible Media can Benefit Specific Disabilities by Promoting Inclusion and Engagement


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. (2019). The act (AODA). Retrieved from

Inclusive Design Research Centre. (2019). Accessible education material and media. Retrieved from

Nusir, S., Alsmadi, I., Al-Kabi, M., & Sharadgah, F. (2013). Studying the Impact of Using Multimedia Interactive Programs on Children’s Ability to Learn Basic Math Skills. E-Learning and Digital Media10(3), 305–319.