Sunday, December 21, 2014

New Semester - New Technology!

This past week, it was announced that my ORION K12 Teachers' Survey answers had been selected to win a class set of 30 tablets. I am over-the-moon excited for this opportunity, and am greatly looking forward to getting technology into the hands of my students!

At the beginning of the school year, I jotted down several of my big, hairy, audacious goals for my classes. I have been able to pick away at some of them, but it's tough when not all of my students have access to technology. In addition to using the tablets next semester to access learning resources (teaching videos, interactive skill practice, online self-paced tutorials), here is a revised and re-focused list of my goals for the upcoming semester:

Combined Grade 12 University & College Physics Class (SPH4U/4C)

  • Blended Learning through D2L's virtual Learning Environment (vLE). One of the only ways I can see to combine these two courses (which have very different curricula) is to engage the students through blended learning. I was worried that not everyone would have access to a device larger than a phone (small screens are not ideal for the vLE), and we might have had to move out of a science lab and into a computer lab. With the addition of these tablets, we will be able to stay in the science lab and still provide everyone with access to the blended learning resources.
  • Connecting through ORION's O3 Collaboration online community. I would love to be able to connect my university-bound students to Ontario universities and show them what is possible in terms of physics research. I am hoping to connect them with undergraduate/graduate students and professors in fields of interest to them, and expand their horizons even before they leave the island for post-secondary studies.

Grade 9 Academic Science (SNC1D)

  • Genius Hour. My big plan with my junior science students is to devote 20% of our time to them researching and developing their passions and interests. Access to this technology will enable us to engage in primary data collection (through Google Forms), research, collaboration (I anticipate students will choose to work in pairs), journaling (through blogs) and presentation of their products using multimedia. I'm already looking forward to what the students will create.
  • Shocking Comparisons of Electricity Use Around the World. In our school's Learning Cycles math & science PD this semester, the science teachers developed a new unit-long project for the electricity unit. At its biggest level, it involves having the students connect with other students around the world in order to compare our countries' methods of energy production and energy usage, as well as take social action on a larger scale (the project-in-progress can be found here). With the tablets, we'll be able to access tools to help us make those world-wide connections.

Grade 12 University Data Management (MDM4U)

  • Primary Data Collection. The big project in this course involves collecting data (typically through survey) and drawing original conclusions based on the analysis of that data. The samples for these surveys are typically restricted to students at our school. Through the use of Google Forms and Skype in the Classroom, I'm hoping we can reach out beyond our walls to collect and analyze data from around the world. How great would it be to pair up with a similar class in another country and swap data? This would take my students' work to a whole new level.

I'm always on the lookout for new things to try, too, especially when it comes to collaborating with other classes and other schools. Any ideas? Toss them my way!


  1. Hey Heather,

    A quick note from our President & CEO :

    Congratulations Heather! It was a pleasure reading your submission - we are pleased you and your class won the tablets. We look forward to working with you and your students to see how your class uses the technology in the classroom. Good luck with your Big Hairy Audacious Goals. ORION is going through the same process using all the feedback from the K-12 submissions to see how we can better help teachers and students in the future.

    Happy Holidays!

    Darin Graham, President & CEO, ORION

    1. Thank you, Darin! Looking forward to working with ORION :)

  2. Hi Heather,

    Once again you inspire me with how you are able to bring innovative activities to your high school classes. Congrats on winning the devices. They are going to a good home. Your grade 9 electricity project has definitely piqued my interest. Doing some thing like that may be just the thing to get me back into doing more project-based teaching with my classes. Thanks keeping us updated on what you do!


    1. Thank you, Sean! I hope you are enjoying some holiday time :) The electricity project should be interesting - it was created by three of us - one not interested in connecting outside the classroom at all, one who is interested but very unsure of it, and one who is chomping at the bit to break down the classroom walls! We tried leaving it open-ended so that each teacher could do with it what they wanted to. I'm really looking forward to it, and hope my students get into it! I'll be sure to let you know how it goes :)

  3. Congratulation Heather on winning the tablets So amazing to interact the students with so many motivating learning experiences that focus on collaboration and thinking skills. I wish my son had the same learning experiences when he was in High school.


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