Month: March 2020

Passive Recipient vs. Active Participant

They say, everything you need to know, you learned in kindergarten.  It’s simple really, be decent, thoughtful humans.

What blows my mind is the fact that we don’t implement more “kindergarten” in everyday life. Think back to when you were 5 (ish), and how amazing it was to be in kindergarten. Almost everything was new, there was a deep desire to learn and grow, and fun could be found in the simplest tasks. Yet as we grow, both society and the educational system asks us to change, to follow rules, to sit still, to absorb information from the world without really interacting with it.


Then for some bizarre reason we expected students and young people to be creative and innovative thinkers. To connect with materials, deeper their understanding and take ownership of their own learning. Even though for 12 years of their life they have been taught to sit at a desk, listen to instruction, fill in a worksheet, and regurgitate meaningless facts on the test.

[This is not meant to insult any educators but is more to address a failing educational system where many great and amazing teachers are trying to make a difference. I recognize and appreciate the enormous amounts of effort teachers put into every lesson.]


So, how can we radically change our classrooms (K-12) to incorporate creative thinking, problem solving and engagement in learning? LET’S GO BACK TO KINDERGARTEN!!

 “The kindergarten approach to learning” (Resnick, pp. 2, 2007)

Kindergarten uses play as a learning tool and allows students to create and develop in areas of interest. Does this mean we pull out the crayons and play dough in high school? Absolutely not, we as teachers need to use age appropriate technologies to incorporate play, inquiry and exploration into every grade level.

“If older students are going to learn through the kindergarten approach, they need different types of tools, media, and materials.” (Resnick, pp. 2, 2007)

Can this change happen overnight? NO, this shift in how we engage students in the classroom will take time. At some points it may even feel like we (as teachers) are fighting an uphill battle to change a factory like education system. BUT this doesn’t mean we can’t take small steps towards a larger goal. In order for students to become creative thinkers, we as educators “need to provide them with more opportunities to create.” (Resnick, pp. 3, 2007)

There is a huge difference between being a PASSIVE RECIPIENT OF KNOWLEDGE and an ACTIVE PARTICIPANT IN LEARNING. The key is shifting from interacting with materials to creating and designing. There are many opportunities to encourage creativity and innovation, especially with the increased access to various digital tools. A quick internet search for ‘tools to develop creative thinking’ will bring up a number of sources and activities to try with students. However, I believe the most important take away is that educators recognize the value of kindergarten like education for students in every grade. And then, take steps towards integrating play, inquiry, exploration, and creation in the classroom.


Images retrieved from the public domain Pixabay



Resnick, M. (2007). All I really need to know (about creative thinking) I learned (by studying how children learn) in kindergarten. In Proceedings of the 6th ACM SIGCHI conference on Creativity & Cognition (pp. 1–6). New York, NY, USA: ACM.

The most important things we can teach students.

B.C. curriculum highlights 3 core competencies: COMMUNICATION, THINKING, and PERSONAL & SOCIAL.

These areas are believed to give students all skills needed to be successful humans. These competencies can be seen in every sub-discipline in education and are easy to recognize in any given lesson plan.

However, there are some discussion on which of the 3 are most valuable. I would argue that critical thinking is an integral skill that students need to function in a highly digitized society. Let me explain. Students are constantly bombarded with information, through internet searches, social media and the remarkable invention we call the ‘smart phone’. With all these resources just a swipe or click away, students are at a point where they need to be critical thinkers. Especially when it comes to evaluating sources of information.

Critical Thinking enables students to evaluate, analyze, question and implement ideas into their own understanding. Yes, each of the core competencies are important to having a well-rounded, life-long learner, but critical thinking allows students to develop as individuals.

Now how do we do this? As educators we have the unique opportunity to teach important 21st century skills like critical thinking. So here are a few digital tools and resources that may just help integrate critical thinking into your classroom.









Critical thinking skills influence students’ perspectives and enables them to develop deeper, meaningful understanding. When students are critical of the information they receive, they are better able to form educated thoughts and ideas. Students then become active participants in their learning and can take ownership of their education. Rather than imposing ideas onto students, educators need to teach students the skills for them to create understanding and perspective.



BC’s New Curriculum. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Learning Resources. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Teaching in a Pandemic

If you don’t already know …  we are in a PANDEMIC! That’s right people, a full blown, stock up, quarantine yourself and avoid all physical contact, pandemic.

Now, lets add a few curve balls into the mix:

  1. Entire countries are on lock down to combat the virus.
  2. BC has suspended face-to-face teaching indefinitely.
  3. Everyone has been told to self-isolate to curb the spread of Covid-19.
  4. You can’t find toilet paper, tissues, hand sanitizer or disinfecting wipes in any stores.
  5. Its Spring Break (at least for my district).


Let’s start with a few key issues I have.

  • I’m a little bitter that the announcements of school ‘closures’ (for lack of a better word) have come out at the beginning of my holidays- seriously I don’t want to deal with this right now.
  • There is no point in stockpiling goods- most major grocery stores will deliver to your house if you are quarantined – or here’s a crazy thought – CALL A FRIEND


Covid-19 may be one of the larger pandemics in my lifetime, however it is not the first. In my less than 30 years of life, there have been many viruses that plagued the public, in no particular order:

  • Bird Flu / H1N1
  • Swine Flu
  • Ebola
  • Mad Cow
  • Norwalk
  • SARS
  • Zika

And I’m sure there are many more, but these are the ‘big ones’ I can remember. Fortunately, I was not infected by any of these that I know of, but I do remember being affected by the aftermath. My point is, if we as a global community can make it through these, we can make it through this time as well. IF everyone, takes the recommended precautions.


Okay, rant over – now let’s get to Teaching during a Pandemic.

Currently there are a lot of questions and uncertainty about what ‘school’ will look like after spring break. Unfortunately, we don’t have answers. This isn’t for a lack of trying, but we honestly don’t know at this point. Even moving forward there will be a lot of trial and error. What we do know, is

  • Wash your hands
  • Don’t touch your face
  • Limit your contact with other people

For educators, we are going to have to get creative, in our teaching and our assignment expectations. WE ARE GOING DIGITAL. Some schools (like mine) are in a better situation than most. 60% of my teaching is done online, the other 40%is face to face. Yes, I will have to rethink that 40% and creatively engage my students so they can continue their learning. BUT I am far less than worried than many of my colleagues. Many teachers must digitize their face-to-face classrooms and instructions. This also means that parents and students must engage with their learning at home – with limited support.


Enough with the negative (there is a lot) and let’s look at the positive (not of the virus but society’s reaction)

  1. CREATIVITY: people are getting creative in how they interact with one another, and how they are spending their time.
    For example, Netflix is offering an extension that allows a group of people to stream and converse synchronously while they are in different places.
  2. PROBLEM SOLVING: Teachers/coaches are using different technology to instruct students/players and help those individuals practice and develop skills.
    For example, setting up an exercise competition, using social media to inspire activity, and sending out instructional videos to follow along.
  3. COMMUNITY: Despite social distancing, people are going to aid those in need (while doing so safely). For the most part, individuals are doing their part to help others, while following health recommendations.
  4. OPPORTUNITY: This is an amazing albeit a forced opportunity to integrate new digital technologies into the K-12 educational setting.

The next few weeks (possibly months) of teaching in a pandemic will have its challenges. But as a community of educators, we can collaborate and implement various teaching strategies to address learning during a pandemic. What I DO know is LEARNING CAN BE DONE ANYWHERE!

Digital Literacy Framework

Reflecting on my teaching pedagogy and practices, I believe I have vastly overlooked digital literacy as a teachable subject. Or maybe, its more that I have taken it for granted.

I have assumed that students’ either already know these things, or that it is being taught by another teacher. Primarily I teach physical and health education and social studies. And since my passion area is physical education, I (unfortunately) rarely think past developing physical literacy. (Which let me tell you is a desperate need in the student population that I see.)

However, this does not excuse my lack of attention to extremely important digital literacies. Moreover, I need to take more of a responsibility teaching these skills to my students and integrate digital skills into both social studies and physical and health education.

Looking specifically at BC’s digital literacy framework, I believe it brings up many important points in key aspects of digital education. However, I think something that could be added would be practical and effective integration into different curriculum. Especially, for teachers like me, who need help integrating these skills into the everyday classroom. Additionally, integrating digital literacies with the intention and purpose of teaching skills.

Another area that I think could be improved in the digital literacy framework is making it applicable for students outside the realm of education. In my experience, skills and ideas taught in school, don’t always transfer to students’ real life. If we want students to become quality digital citizens, then we need to teach them with examples from their life outside the classroom. Specifically, I am thinking around social media, and creating a digital footprint that they won’t be embarrassed of when they are adults.

Digital Literacy is an important set of skills that students will need. However, as a teacher I feel like I need additional support in integrating these skills into my courses and more importantly making them relevant for students.


B.C.’s Digital Literacy Framework

Digital Story Telling

Digital story telling is commonplace at this point in time. Socializing, friendships, relationships and even professional encounters take place on a digital platform. Not to say that face to face communication isn’t involved in these areas, but digital communication is becoming more and more “the norm”.

This can be seen in the increased use and development of various social media platforms, as well as the attempted integration of technology in the educational system. Once again, education is behind the curve of social change. However, this is a very exciting time to be a teacher. Not only do I have a vast array of digital tools at my disposal, I am also encouraged to take chances and implement them into my classroom. Moreover, it is almost expected that I educate my self on how to effectively use these tools.


This leads to how teachers, students and the larger class can communicate their thoughts and ideas through digital story telling. Instead of listing the multiple resources available, let me demonstrate using one of my favourites, Powtoon.

Powtoon allows students to create a video, without having to film themselves. I find this very useful for students who are hesitant to record themselves or their voice for an assignment. Check out this link, to my powtoon.

Digital storytelling allows students to be creative and develop connections with the material in order to display their knowledge and understanding. Digital story telling is an amazing tool, and the sooner educators get on board the better.