Author Archives: kellntarina

The End of a Rewarding Journey…

This is my summary of learning for EC&I 833.  This was such an engaging course and I have learned so much from Dr. Couros and my classmates.  The end of this course also brings the end of my Master’s degree in Educational Leadership.  This has been a great program and I wouldn’t trade my experiences and the friends I have met along the way for anything.  I am happy to complete this program and can now focus more on my family and other interests.

Assistive Technologies

This week Kalyn, Megan, Leigh, and Jenny presented on assistive technologies. During the presentation, assistive technology was defined by as any device software or equipment that helps people work around their challenges’. This could be anything from pencil grips, voice to text calculators, or communication devices. This made me rethink how many assistive technologies I have used with students over the years.

Assistive Technology and Telehealth

“Assistive technology tools can help students with certain disabilities learn more effectively. Ranging in sophistication from ‘low’ technologies such as a graphic organizer worksheet to ‘high’ technologies including cutting-edge software and smartphone apps, assistive technology is a growing and dynamic field” (teachthought).  Initially, when I thought of assistive technology, my mind immediately went to ‘high’ technologies. The presentation opened my eyes to all the ‘low’ assistive technologies I have used over the years. I have used pencil grips, slant boards, seat cushions, large lined paper, magnifying lenses, among many others.

Low Tech Assistive Technology for reading and writing | Low tech assistive  technology, Reading technology, Kids technology

In the required reading, Assistive technology: Impact on education, employment, and independence of individuals with physical disabilities, the authors discuss that “appropriately selected and utilized assistive technology is imperative for individuals to approach an even par with their non-disabled peers”. I have had a few instances in my career where I have had an assistive technology given to me for a student, but I failed to utilize the technology to its fullest potential because I had no training on the technology. One that comes to mind is Kurzweil.

Kurzweil 3000 in the Classroom | Larissa Amburgey

I was so overwhelmed with this program. Somehow I was supposed to scan all the work the student needed read to them. This was a time before online textbooks and I would battle trying to flatten the text to scan it. If the scan wasn’t perfect-the program couldn’t read it. I did not have an educational assistant to help the student when they required the use of the program. I was expected to teach the class while also helping this student navigate their way through the program. It was a short lived solution. Another program that I had a similar experience with is Dragon Naturally Speaking.

Review: Dragon NaturallySpeaking 13 Premium

I had a student who had a learning disability that affected his writing ability. This program was to help him get his ideas down without having to physically print them himself. It took a long time to get the program to partially understand him as he also has a speech impediment. I’m not sure what the program is like now, but years ago we had to ‘train’ the program to understand his voice for accuracy. It did not work well for this student.

I have had autistic students in my class who use PECS with their educational assistant. This system allows communication by a student who is unable to verbally communicate. It opens up a whole new world for the student.

More recently, I have utilized portions of Google’s read&write. I have used it exclusively for speech to text. Reading through MegansEdStuff blog post, I see many other functions that this extension could be utilized with my students. I can see using this extension for students looking up words in their readings, removing images and ads from web pages so students can focus on what they are supposed to be focused on, and the ‘screen mask’ function. I have students that would benefit from only seeing a few lines of text at a time to help them focus. I have also never used this extension for its reading text aloud ability. I definitely need some PD on this extension to utilize it to its full ability! As Megan says in her blog, “educators need more support than just a device”.

Implementing assistive technology can be a slow learning process. When assistive technology is new to a student in my class (grade 6), I talk to them about the process they will go through learning the new technology. For example, I have a student who has just undergone some ed psych testing and the recommendations were to use a Chromebook for writing tasks. This student and I are working together to use this device effectively so that when she reaches high school (grade 9) using the Chromebook for writing is a comfortable thing to do (and she can do it independently).

The challenges and limitations I experience using assistive technology are:

*unskilled teacher with the technology (when do I have time to learn this stuff??)

*other students don’t understand why some students ‘get’ to use a Chromebook

*not enough technology for those who need it

Assistive technology ‘levels the playing field’ between students. I look forward to looking more into some of the technologies presented this week in class.

Point of the Game: Sports Ethics: Create a Level Playing Field

Assessment- Promoting Student Choice

This weeks presentation by Trevor, Matt, and Dalton on assessment technologies did not disappoint. I really enjoyed the intro video the gentlemen put together showcasing ‘old’ technologies. It brought back memories of my public schooling.

Scanners & Forms | Scantron

Many of the tools that were highlighted were new to me (big surprise!). As the presentation was going on I was writing down tools that I would like to try in my classroom. I enjoyed the ‘workshop’ style of presentation as we got to try out each assessment tool and evaluate it for ourselves.

The presenters began with Classkick and Quizizz.

Both of the tools would be engaging for my students. I like how they are self-paced (not timed like Kahoot!). As I have never used either of these before, I appreciated others’ views that Quizizz is perhaps more user friendly. I really liked the ‘helping’ function in Classkick. It allows other students or teachers to help a student if they ask for it. I also like that the students don’t know who they are helping. Another new term that came up for me was ‘gamification of learning’. This idea of motivating students to learn by using video game design and game elements in learning environments is one I can see working for me in my classroom.

The Positive Impact of Gamification on Employee Training

The presenters moved onto GoFormative and Socrative. Another couple tools I’ve never heard of.

formative (@goformative) | Twitter
James thinks its worth a look!: Socrative - Quiz tool creator

In the discussion, Dean brought up a strong benefit for Goformative over Socrative and that is the ability to upload a document into Goformative and annotate it. I see this as being very helpful for me. This way I don’t need to create a whole new document. I can use one that I already have designed. Dean referred to Goformative as the ‘swiss army knife’ of assessment tools.

Victorinox Swiss Army Swiss Champ Pocket Knife (Red): Sports &  Outdoors

A feature that I can see being useful in Socrative is the ability to randomize questions. I’ve got a few ‘rubber necks’ in my room when it comes to assessment.

The last assessment tool highlighted by the group was Knowledgehook.


There was a great discussion about the differences between Knowledgehook and Mathletics. This really piqued my interest as I am getting frustrated with Mathletics. Even though I choose Saskatchewan curriculum (and choose a grade level below what I teach), the topics are often way above the intended users. Our SST is using IXL Math with a few students in the school and I will be signing a few of my lower students up. I would love to hear any opinions or experiences my classmates have with IXL.

After the presentation, I made a note that I wanted to try Classkick in my classroom this week. I started the process of trying to learn how to use it, and quite honestly, I was overwhelmed. I am sure it is a great tool, but I just don’t have the extra time to spend right now on learning it. I’m putting it in my back pocket for later when I have time…

A big issue for me is the lack of technology in my classroom. As I have said before, we have one Chromebook for every three students. This makes using these assessments tricky. I almost have to set up an assessment station within my class. Another issue is the time it takes to learn these programs. I’m hoping, after I finish this class, I will have some extra time to dive deeper into some of these tools. I know I have hurdles to overcome to implement these tools, but I know it will be worth it. The blog post “How Technology Is Transforming Everyday Assessment” promotes that “digital formative assessment is great as it can help personalize learning and assessment and minimize assessment biases. Teachers are tapping into students’ strengths and interests”. As teachers, we get comfortable in the way we do things…but this isn’t always to the students’ benefit. This also relates back to last weeks discussion on Education 3.0. Using these tools will increase the students’ personalization of their education.

I am eager to hear testimonials of any of the tools mentioned above. This will help me narrow down which tools to spend my time learning about. Thanks!

The Shift to Web 3.0

In Jackie Gerstein’s article ‘Moving from Education 1.0 Through Education 2.0 Towards Education 3.0’ she states that “The web influences people’s way of thinking, doing and being, and people influence the development and content of the web.  The evolution of the web from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 and now to Web 3.0 can be used as a metaphor of how education should also be evolving, as a movement from Education 1.0 toward that of Education 3.0.  The Web, Internet, Social Media, and the evolving, emerging technologies have created a perfect storm or convergence of resources, tools, open and free information access.”  This quote ties into the thoughts in the article “Schools are doing Education 1.0; talking about doing Education 2.0; when they should be planning Education 3.0” that the internet of today is a huge picture window and portal into perceptions, thinking, and behaviour of society.  Both of these ideas resonate with me as I see the “classroom “ as a reflection of society. The web influences us as a society and in turn we influence the workings of the web. As we evolve as a society, our classrooms also evolve. 

The shift to Web 3.0 impacts education. In Mark Pegrum’s work titled “Tools for Digital Learning”, Web 3.0 “refers to the currently evolving version of the web…[it is] often referred to as the semantic web or the intelligent web”.   A large impact Web 3.0 will have on education has to do with an increase in ‘personalization’ of education. The classroom will be less teacher driven. Teachers will become more of a facilitator of learning. 

Looking back, the internet has helped define what schools are doing. During Web 1.0, education was like the first generation of the web- a one way process. Students go to school to ‘get’ knowledge from teachers. 


“Students are largely consumers of information resources that are delivered to them…”

The emergence of Web 2.0 also saw a change in education to Education 2.0. Web 2.0 saw more relationships being formed between individuals. More stock is put into peer feedback and mentoring. This change was mirrored in Education 2.0 when we see more interaction between teacher and student; student and student; and students to content experts. In the classroom we see more cooperative learning, global learning projects, and social networking (Skype, bogs, etc) in the classroom. 

education 2.0

With the shift to Web 3.0 and Education 3.0, content is “freely and readily available “.  Learning is “self-directed, interest based,…” and education is “driven by problem-solving, innovation, and creativity “. 


Great opportunities exist with Education 3.0. ‘Just in time ‘ learning dominates over the previous ‘Just in case’ learning.

As I work in a school where the students have access to limited life experiences, the idea of virtual reality opportunities excites me. I can provide simulations of locations or events in the wider world. Although I worry about bandwidth, ongoing PD, and filtering issues. Our school division is constantly fighting bandwidth issues and if I go to the work to provide a VR experience for my students- it must work. Most of these concepts are brand new to me so I require ongoing PD- both on how to use the tool but also how to implement it while meeting curriculum objectives. My school division wants to control (as I assume most do) what type of information comes into the schools. Some of this filtering may impede the use of some tools.

If I am to be totally honest, I had never heard of Web 1.0, 2.0, 3.0 and the corresponding Education 1.0, 2.0, and 3.0 until this class. As I learn more…I am also finding out more and more information that I do not know. The journey continues…

Distance Learning Tools

Kristina, Amanda, Catherine, and Nancy enlightened us with a historical tour ending in the present with respect to tools used for distance learning. Many of the tools they introduced were new to me.

Distance Learning Memes {The Most Relatable Memes on Distance Learning}

I am very thankful that I teach 100% face to face in my classroom. Although things look a little different, it is somewhat normal. When I was doing emergency remote teaching my go to tools were Google Classroom, Screencastify, and Snagit.

The learning curve was steep, but worth it.

After reading Best Tools for Virtual and Distance Learning from Common Sense Education, I realize that I don’t know many of these recommended tools. Even though I do teach face to face some of the tools mentioned in this article I would like to learn more about are Planboard, Nearpod, and Pear Deck. These are all tools that I can use in my classroom to either help keep myself organized or engage students in their learning. I can see my students using Nearpod and Pear Deck to show their learning (instead of Google slides or a poster). Yes, I still do have students create posters! Unfortunately, we are 1 Chromebook to every three students.

While reading this blog post, it summed up my feelings during emergency remote teaching when it said “And if you look online, you’ll find tons of ideas and resources that can help you tackle those challenges, so much that it’s easy to get paralyzed at the volume of it all”. That is what I felt…paralyzed with an abundance of information and too many choices.

Paralyzed by Choice — Steemit

Also, the section on “Perspective” resonated with me. I expected too much of myself, and at times I felt like others expected too much from me. As the blog post states “None of this is normal, and there really is no precedent to follow”.

Even though my current situation is teaching face to face, after this presentation I feel much more equipped to face the challenge of online learning if the need arises. The group provided rich readings full of information and tips of how to succeed in this format. My hats off to them! Although, I did keep going off on tangents as I composed this blog post…to learn more about all the great tools out there!

HATS off to you! with Top hat and moustache Postcard |

Productivity or Distraction?

This weeks topics were on Productivity Suites and Presentation Tools. The presenting group of Allison, Jocelyn, Shelby, and Daina did a great job of taking us on a historical tour and allowing us the opportunity to dive deeper into some of these programs. I remember using Lotus 123 and WordPerfect in university.

Lotus 1-2-3, Three Decades On | Mental Floss
Who still uses Corel WordPerfect? - Quora

In the article “The Best Productivity Apps for 2020” in PC Magazine the authors promote that “Productivity software is designed to make work and personal tasks easier and more efficient to complete”. They also say that “Being productive sometimes means becoming more focused and less distracted”. This directly ties into the video Single Tasking is the New Multi-Tasking.

This video hit home for me for many reasons. I totally can relate to being on the internet working on a project and getting distracted by other items on the internet. I get sent on a tangent (usually nothing to do with what I am working on) and lose hours of my life. It also happens when I am working on a presentation or video. I get distracted easily with the “visual” aspect of the project (does the colour of the font exactly match the guys shirt in the picture on the slide) and will spend endless hours making it look perfect-yet the assignment is really about the information-not the visual appearance. The gentleman in this video ends up with many tabs open on his computer after following many different tangents. He draws a connection between “life mimicking the internet”. I often feel as though I have many too many ‘tabs’ open in my head. I will start one thing…get distracted by something else I have to do…and never finishing anything! To try to offset this fury of activity in my head, I practice yoga. I work hard to be present for the time I am practicing. Some days are better than others. Working to be fully present in the moment is a goal of mine.

How to Meditate - Mindful

For myself, I would say the internet is more an endless series of distractions rather than a productivity tool. My focus has to be top notch to achieve anything on the internet.

Google vs Microsoft – Comparing TTM Revenues and Profits for past 25  Quarters - Revenues & Profits

When looking at productivity suites the battle continues between Microsoft Office 365 and GSuite. I sit on team Microsoft although my division is team Google. The presenting groups reading “G Suite vs. Office 365…” in the COMPUTERWORLD publication breaks down the suites by app. The apps that I use the most would be word processing and email. When looking at the word processors within each suite there are features that stand out with both. According to this article, Google Docs wins hands down on collaboration. I would agree with this. Microsoft Word has more built in templates so that you can get writing fast. Since most of my word processing is not a collaborative process, I prefer Word. The other app that I use often is the presentation software. Here again I prefer PowerPoint. In the article, the authors compare the presentation apps saying that “PowerPoint’s QuickStarter feature makes quick work of starting a presentation. Choose the topic of your presentation, and QuickStarter walks you through creating an outline, starter slides, templates, and themes. Google Slides has no equivalent”.

I often wonder whether I prefer the Microsoft products because I am more familiar with them? If the goal is productivity…using the programs that I am most familiar with leads to work getting done rather than trying to figure out the program before I can even start my work.

Sesame Street and Beyond

Sesame Street was a staple in my childhood. We watched it all the time. I am pretty sure the Count taught me my numbers.

It was many years ago that I first read about the ‘dark side’ of Sesame Street. I do not remember watching the show and thinking that some of the content was inappropriate for the intended audience. I do not remember Cookie Monster smoking a pipe (but apparently he did). Apparently, some episodes had children playing in construction sites and jumping on old box springs. There were enough inappropriate scenes that when the early episodes were released on DVD in 2007, they came with an “adults only” warning. The New York Times said the warning read “These early Sesame Street episodes are intended for grownups and may not suit the needs of today’s preschool child”. I am wondering what adults would want to watch Sesame Street…

Some interesting reading I found about Sesame Street talked about the characters of Roosevelt Franklin and Mr. Aloysius Snuffleupagus. Roosevelt Franklin was the first black muppet to appear on the show (1970-1975).

Edutopia - Often referred to as the first black Muppet, Roosevelt Franklin  joined a multiracial cast of human and puppet characters soon after the  assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. and the

He was apparently removed from the show after parents criticized that the character promoted a harmful stereotype that black children were “rowdy” and a “bad influence” to other children. He was a regular visitor to after-school detention.

In 1971, Big Bird began referring to an imaginary friend- Snuffleupagus.

Give your friend a hug! #Snuffleupagus #BigBird #SesameStreet | Sesame  street muppets, Sesame street characters, Sesame street

The other characters did not believe that Big Bird’s friend existed outside his imagination. Snuffleupagus was an imaginary character for 14 years until adult viewers drew a connection between this imaginary relationship and the possibility of adults not believing children when they told them something (childhood sexual assault). In 1985, Snuffleupagus appeared as a character for all to see. If you would like-check out the 11 of the most controversial moments in Sesame Street’s history.

Screen Shot 2019 11 07 at 8.08.28 PM

These issues are a stretch for me, but I remember other shows while my daughters were growing up that the media would question some of the content. Some of the shows I remember being smeared in the press were Teletubbies, Calliou, Dora the Explorer…among others. While most of these shows have educational content-they do not take the place of school. They may help to reinforce concepts already learned…but the actual learning from them is minimal. They are entertainment.

This week in class was the first presentation-and it was our turn! I learned so much about audio technology, visual technology, and audio visual technology. I also learned how to use Nearpod and Adobe Spark Video. I can see using both of these applications in my classroom with my students. As a society, we have come a long way from picture books being the technology (although picture books still have an important place in any classroom). I hope through our presentation our classmates got a good idea of the history, the connections to learning theories, and had the chance to learn something new.

I do believe that with each introduction to new technology or new applications-something is lost. I totally agree with Professor Couros and other classmates when they brought up issues they saw in our concluding video which showed the classroom of the future.

A glaring issue with this video is the lack of collaboration between students and between students and teacher. The only interaction is between the students and the technology.

I fear we are raising a generation of students who do not know how to interact with other live humans who are in the same room with them. We need to find a balance between technology use and still having meaningful human interaction in the classroom.

An age-by-age guide to kids and smartphones

The Old Becomes New Again


I really enjoyed the walk down memory lane this past week.   I remember playing around with Logo when I was in high school.   I can’t remember which class we experimented with it in, but I didn’t know it was originally designed to teach math skills!  I could definitely engage some reluctant learners with Logo.  They would see Logo as a precursor to computer coding.  

This fits in with he  constructionism view that learning can happen most effectively when people are active in making tangible objects in the real world.  Having students input values and seeing the path the Logo turtle takes in response to their inputted values would be motivating for most students.  I’m not sure I agree with Papert when he likened students’ learning with Logo “to living in a “mathland” where learning mathematical ideas is as natural as learning French while living in France.”


One of my favourite oldies is HyperStudio.  It was the first program I used to make presentations. I remember losing hours playing around on it.  Presentation programs are still one of my favourites to kill time.  

A first game for me is one that wasn’t mentioned in class “Where In The World is Carmen Sandiego?”. I don’t remember a lot about it just that I was trying to find/catch a thief.  The ‘only’ video game that I have wanted to play repeatedly is/was Lemmings on the Nintendo Entertainment System. There many all nighters in the 90’s spent saving these cute creatures. 

Looking through this weeks resources I realized that I don’t use many <a href="http://&lt;!– wp:paragraph –> <p>Looking through this weeks resources I realized that I don’t use many Chrome <a href="; target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener"> </a>extensions. I think I might be missing out!  I was introduced to Screencastify <a href="; target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener"> </a>when we went to emergency remote learning in March. I found it easy to use and it had all the features I needed. I could see students using it to record presentations. The only other extension I use is Grammarly. <a href="; target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener"> </a>I purchased this in my 7th masters course. I sure could have used it earlier but I didn’t know what it was all about. </p> Chrome extensions. I think I might be missing out!  I was introduced to Screencastify when we went to emergency remote learning in March. I found it easy to use and it had all the features I needed. I could see students using it to record presentations. The only other extension I use is Grammarly. I purchased this in my 7th masters course. I sure could have used it earlier but I didn’t know what it was all about. 

I’m interested to hear what other ‘old’ games are favourites to my classmates. 

A Theory for Everything

This weeks class and readings brought me back to my undergraduate degree (which was a long time ago).

TLM image

As I re-acquainted myself with the theories of Behaviourism, Cognitivism, Constructivism, and Connectivism I found my mind twirling in circles.

Head Spinning GIFs | Tenor

Looking back over my career, my guiding philosophies and classroom practice has evolved. I remember back to my first position and I would say I followed a Behaviourism practice. I (a little embarrassing looking back) had a chart on the wall where students got a ‘+’ for good behaviour and a ‘-‘ for non-desirable behaviour. At the end of the week, I would total up the pluses and minuses and each student would choose rewards. If a student was +3, they would choose 3 rewards. If a students was in the negative, they wouldn’t receive any rewards. Totally extrinsic motivation! Thankfully, I’ve moved on from these practices. More recently I would say that I follow mainly a Constructivism ideology, but sometimes Cognitivism ideologies are present.

After reading the piece on Connectivism I see this is where I strive to be. Points in this article that really resonated with me were: “Technology is altering (rewiring) our brains” and “Know-how and know-what is being supplemented with know-where (the understanding of where to find knowledge needed). These ‘trends in learning’ are changing the ways we need to teach.

Connectivism: a network theory for teaching and learning in a connected  world

Educational Technology…My Limited Understanding.

The Impact of Technology on Education You Probably Never Realized -  Eduzenith

When I first began thinking about the topic of “educational technology” I started by thinking back over my teaching career (20 years) and how the technology we use changes. I think of educational technology as any tools or technologies that assist in the education of our students. Understanding new technology has always been a hobby of mine, but I have found as life has got busier with work and family, I am falling further and further behind when it comes to knowing about technology. I disagree with the above graphic that technology has made learning ‘easy’. It definitely engages some students who are otherwise unengaged.

After doing the readings for this week, I realized that I needed to go further back into my past to really think about what educational technology means to me and how it shapes my teaching practice.

In elementary school, you knew it was going to be a great day when you saw this:

Classroom movie projector--if you saw this when you walked into class, it was going to be a good day!

This machine meant we would be taking a break from the textbooks and exploring through pictures and sounds. The engagement factor from a simple machine was amazing. Unfortunately, the sound quality was horrible and more times than not…the tape bent or came loose. As the years went on the technology steadily (and quickly) became more useful for schools.

Vutec 54"H Wide Body TV Cart w/Elec VWBC54E B&H Photo

I am dating myself…but when I began teaching these fancy TV carts were all the rage. As with all technology, these were not without their own problems. I remember the frustration of having to sign out the TV cart and realizing that someone else had it signed out for when I needed it.

Educational technology is fluid and always changing. I feel this technology needs to be purposeful. Having the students use technology for the purpose of using technology is missing the point. All new technologies have benefits and drawbacks. As Neil Postman says in his talk Five Things We Need to Know About Technological Change, “Technology giveth and technology taketh away. This means that for every advantage a new technology offers, there is always a corresponding disadvantage”.

Postman's Claims - Synthesis of Amusing Ourselves to Death

The technology I implement in my classroom must have advantages that outweigh the disadvantages. A big idea I got from EC&I 830 in the spring was the idea of the importance of teaching students not only how to responsibly use technology, but also teaching them about the disadvantages. As users of technology we need to be well informed. Postman articulated it well when he said that “The best way to view technology is as a strange intruder…its capacity for good or evil rests entirely on human awareness of what it does for us and to us”. Audrey Waters also speaks to this fact in her blog when she states that “it’s a strange and necessary time to be a critic of education technology”.