Taking the Technology Leap

Maria King is a grade 4-5 teacher at Queen Mary Elementary in School District 39 who is using iPads in the classroom. She has been teaching 26 years in Taiwan, Illinois, New York and Vancouver. Maria is a beginning teacher to implement technology in her everyday lessons and was excited to apply to SET-BC to try iPads.

Working with SET-BC Tier 2 consultant Kamelia Dousti, the goal was to create an inclusive environment, provide opportunities for teamwork, and increase collaboration amongst students in literacy and numeracy. Since receiving her iPads from SET-BC, she has integrated them into her lesson planning. Below is her reflection of her experience for the past six months.

I started off the year finding out the strengths and challenges of each student and created heterogeneous groups, with students that struggled with writing and reading and students who had more experience and confidence in these areas. We did team building activities so the students felt comfortable and safe to work in these iPad groups. We began in an eight week project on Growing Chefs in which the students were introduced to the app BookCreator to create digital books. During the Growing Chefs sessions, they learned about food systems and our interactions with them. There were four volunteer chefs that came weekly to teach a variety of topics, for example, food miles and how our food travels from planting to eating. With the iPads, the students documented their weekly learning through notes, videos, and photographs. They also reflected on their learning at the end of each session. At the end of the eight week session, they created a digital book that was a combination of both recount and reflection. We invited parents and community members to share in the excitement of “reading” their ebook. Students worked together and synergized and collaborated with each other both in designing their ebook and in presenting.

students group picture on a big monkey barThe design process was very engaging for the students, selection of backgrounds, fonts, and placements of images. Each group discussed ideas at length, so when parents, schoolmates and community members were seeing the ebooks for the first time, they were very surprised at the wide diversity of representation. The personality of the group and the students was very evident in the project. It allowed for a diverse representation. The students were very proud of both the content and the presentation of their digital books.

The following are two examples of two student group’s digital book:

After our Terry Fox run, we looked to other inspirational Canadians. Each student learned about an eminent Canadian, about their struggles, achievements, and legacy. We shared this information on the App ChatterPix, and invited parents and community members to come and learn about the eminent person. Prior to creating with ChatterPix,, they wrote a report on their eminent person, then they condensed the report to the most important information and videoed their presentation. Upon observation of the video, they chose the most crucial and important points to include in ChatterPix.

ChatterPix Student Example

Previously I sent photographs to parents through email and the Remind app. My consultant taught me to set up FreshGrade and I began using it as a tool for students to share their learning, work in progress and prototypes of the design process with their parents. As a tool for assessment, students are able to highlight their strengths and areas to improve on and next steps through observation and evaluating their work.

After studying, comparing the human and animal systems, students used Adobe Spark Video to demonstrate how a prop was like the body system. A branch of tree, for example, was like bronchi of the lungs. This allowed them to combine all of their learning and use props that would best illustrate the structure and function of the body parts. This was a very imaginative exercise and students had a wide variety of ideas and were excited to put all their learning together as a video.

In Math, students were struggling in understanding the concepts so we used the Explain Everything app where the students could break down concepts into small discrete steps and explain each one. They explained concepts such as fractions, decimals, percentages, graphs, and rounding numbers through the use of visuals. By breaking the concepts down into small discrete units, they were able to more deeply understand the math. Students became experts as they created videos for other students to watch and learn from each other.

students working on tablet in the classroomIt was wonderful to have ten iPads for my 27 students. By working in small groups, they had many opportunities to revise their thinking based on group discussions; they problem solved together and came to consensus on a variety of decisions. They worked together by consulting together and problem solving. Throughout this process they became more articulate, better listeners and better able to use feedback to improve their writing and ideas.

My consultant’s ongoing support was invaluable to me through this process in her “big picture” thinking, organization, step-by-step approach, and patience. She inspired me to use technology for team building and learning. I am extremely grateful to SET-BC for this support and I encourage all teachers to take the leap and try to implement technology into daily routines to engage students in the learning process.

We at SET-BC want to thank Maria and her class for allowing us to be part of their learning.

To learn more about the technology used in this SETstory, search for it by name in learningSET.