tech inquiry

3D Printing Workshop

After taking the 3D printing workshop at the UVic Digital Scholarship Commons it is very clear why you need a class on how to work the 3D printers. There are two different software programs to learn as well as a really cool website to check out. It took an hour and a half and, honestly, it could have been longer. I had a lot of fun learning about how to use the programs. I have never tried to manipulate a 3D virtual object before. I am going to need a lot more practice.

I have so many ideas of how 3D printing can be used in a classroom. I think that working the software would best be suited for middle school aged students. It takes a bit of getting used to and basic tech literacy is a must. However, I think that a teacher could print things that would be useful for elementary students of all ages.

You could make: math manipulatives, science diagrams, geographical terrain, engineering tools (gears and pullies), … There are an unbelievable number of options. We briefly touched on a website called “Thingiverse” ( It has a whole section dedicated to education – complete with LESSON PLANS!!! Clearly, I need to spend time discovering all of the resources there.

The program that we spent most of our time in was “Tinkercad” ( I made a very nice file for a 3D key-chain (it would only cost $0.30 to print, so I might just do it!). Then we learned about MakerBot Print ( This program is how to transform your Tinkercad file into something that the 3D printer can actually print out. Another nice feature of all of the websites mentioned, is that they are FREE.

My brain feels full. I can’t wait to discover more applications for 3D printing.


Alignment Tool

This week I am trying out a bunch of new tech! I am in the midst of learning how to use all of GIMP’s tools. There are so many of them. However, the most satisfying one to learn so far was the alignment tool. This is less impressive if you just saw the “before” and “after” screenshots so I decided to make a screen capture. I want to get more comfortable with screen capture because I can see myself using this type of tech with my future students. It would be nice to show them concepts by letting them follow what is on the screen.

After doing some research, I decided that the program called “FlashBack Express” was the best program for my needs. It has the added bonus of being FREE. Sadly, WordPress won’t let you upload videos directly. I figured out that you can embed YouTube videos. So, after figuring out how to upload videos to YouTube, you can now see my final result. It isn’t perfect but I wanted to capture my learning journey. Here is step one.


Field-trip to PSII

Our EDCI 336 class went on a field-trip to the Pacific School of Innovation and Inquiry (PSII for short). It was very generous of them to allow 20 teacher candidates into their space and ask all sorts of questions. There is too much information to go over everything that I learned (besides they have a great website ), but here are the highlights.

PSII Core Values (photo taken with permission)

I found it intriguing that by using an inquiry learning model that subjects and grades were no longer siloed. A grade 9 learner could be doing an inquiry that involved grade 9 and 12 biology and grade 10 math. This gives learners the opportunity to make connections between subjects just like we do in real life. Very rarely is my mind engaged in just one subject. The ability to pull different bits of knowledge together to get a greater whole is a powerful tool.

The school uses Trello extensively to help learners stay organized. It also allows teachers to keep track of what the learners are working on. Teachers can pin resources to a learner’s Trello list. There is also the ability for learners and teachers to communicate through cards on Trello. I think that this is a great tool because it keeps everyone on the same page. I made a Trello board that mimics what they do at PSII. I can definitely see myself using Trello in a middle school classroom.

PSII Style Trello board

PSII is an independent high school, so there are many things that they can do that I would not be able to do as an elementary school teacher in the public system. I would certainly use Trello if I was teaching middle school, but what could I take away if I was teaching grade 3? Is there anything that a visit to PSII could to to improve my teaching practice with young students? The answer is YES. Jessica, our tour guide and a teacher at PSII, told us a sad fact that some of the learners who come to PSII take months to be confident enough to voice what they are interested in/ passionate about. They are used to the teacher knowing what is important and following their lead. Student interests have to be followed outside of school hours. What an impoverished learning environment! My personal goal is that no matter what grade I teach, I want students to be confident enough to tell me what their passion is and try to work it into their learning. Learning is much more engaging if it is something you care about. It will probably take more time, but I think that it is worth it. I want students to leave my class with more knowledge but also with an excitement and joy for learning. My trip to PSII made me realize that I need to be proactive in nurturing a learning environment that incorporates the interests of my students.


So Many Choices

We had Rich McCue come to our EDCI 336 class last week. We learned about video editing, audio editing, and screen capture. It was a lot of new technology to absorb in the hour and a half.


Video Editing: I could see myself using this technology in the classroom (especially if I was using FreshGrade). It would be nice to be able to remove an unpolished end (eg video of a student turning off the ipad). Adding in audio, titles, and transitions looks like a lot of fun. I am especially intrigued with using green screen. However, everything we learned was on iMovie and I do not have a Mac. Rich said that the program DaVinci Resolve is a free video editor that would work on Windows. I am going to download it and see what kind of movies I can make.

Audio Editing: This was more in my wheelhouse. Once again we were using a Mac product, GarageBand. I think that I am going to stick with Audacity. I know how to use that program. The thing with audio editing is that I am not sure how I would use it in the classroom. The only thing that I could come up with was that I could record myself reading books. Then I could set up a “listening station” in my classroom and students could go there and listen to books that were a higher reading level than they could manage independently. I could even insert a sound that would indicate that it was time to turn the page.

Screen Capture: I have never done screen capture before. I liked how simple it was. I have seen many screen captures (mostly watching StarCraft). I can think of many ways that I could use this in the classroom. I could make students a tutorial on how to do something in GIMP. I could illustrate a math concept in Paint. Maybe I could have a video playing and narrate over-top of it (eg. “See how the lion is hiding so that the zebra can’t see it? … You have to be patient if you are a lion”).

Moral of the story: Technology can be a great way to scaffold learning. I am going to have to practice in order to get comfortable with these teaching tools.

tech inquiry

Ed Tech Inquiry Indecision

My ed tech inquiry topic has changed three times now but I think that I have settled on a topic that is going to be both fun and exciting.

At first, I was going to learn about the Google apps available for improving education. The teacher I was partnered with for our Wednesday observations last term, highly recommend learning about the Google Suite. I thought that this would be a great opportunity to learn about all that Google had to offer. Sadly, there were more than the allotted number of people in the group so I looked at the other available options.

The topics of stop-action and e-book creation interested me. I picked e-book making because it seemed more versatile to use in the classroom. I signed up for the topic. I did some preliminary research and found that there are a few websites that offer free e-book makers. Book Creator ( looked like a great resource. The program is straightforward, you can add audio files to make it more interactive, and you can do a trial version that lets you make 40 books for free. It was a good topic. I could see the value of getting students to self publish their books (since the interface is simple enough that I could picture Grades 3+ working on it). Also, the idea of making books with audio intrigued me. However, I was not excited by the project. It was an ok topic that I could use in a classroom.

Things changed the day we had Rich McCue, from UVic’s Digital Scholarship Commons, came in and talk to us. I noticed that on UVic’s website it listed that they have a 3D printer. Now this was an idea that I was excited about! I could imagine using 3D printers to make gears, to show geographical terrain, to make models of the inner ear. So yet again, I swtiched topics. I have signed up for the 3D printing workshop on Feb 11th, and I cannot wait to get started. Here’s hoping that this one sticks.


Wading into the Twitter-verse

I started a Twitter account a few months ago so that I could see what people were posting about education. We had learned about Stuart Shanker (who studies self-regulation) in a previous course. I wanted to learn more about his theories so I made a Twitter account and found a ton of great educational resources. I enjoyed lurking from the shadows. It was a nice way to see what leaders in the field of education were talking about.

When we were given the option of Tweeting in EDCI 336, I thought that I would pick the option of growing my Personal Learning Network (PLN) but not putting any information out there. I felt that I did not have much to contribute to the myriad of voices already on in the Twitter-verse. Then one day, on my commute in, I saw the most beautiful cloud formation and found out that it was actually a meteorological event called a “fall streak hole.” I decided to try and make my first tweet. A few people in my cohort liked it and I really couldn’t see what made Twitter so popular. It felt a lot like Facebook but with a character limit.

Then we had an EDCI 336 class, which involved a video conference with Ian Landy, a principal in Powell River, BC. It was a great class and I learned a ton (not the least of which was the power of a video conference to be able to bring guest speakers into the classroom). At the end of the class I thought “Why not tweet about the class and put in a mention to Ian?” So that is what I did. Nothing earth-shattering. But then he retweeted it and poeple from his Twitter connections started liking the post. All of a sudden, I understood what makes Twitter different from the other social media platforms. It lets you connect with people that you would never have contact with. It is an easy way to share ideas. FaceBook is very insular. I feel that FaceBook is more like a mirror, while Twitter is like a window.

I have changed my mind about Twitter. I think that I am going to try and tweet a bit more and see what happens. I am also following some people who also use GIMP in the effort to increase my PLN for my open inquiry project. I am not ready to dive into the deep end of the Twitter-verse quite yet, but I am enjoying splashing around in the kiddie-pool.

open inquiry

Figuring out Blending Modes

The lessons that I have just completed were all about blending modes. This is something that I have never heard of before. I see that they can be useful for making quick, global edits. For instance, if your picture was overexposed, a few of the blending modes help increase contrast. What took me a while to understand is that you need a colour layer on top of the image that you are working on. If you don’t, NOTHING WILL HAPPEN. I spent quite a bit of time being frustrated that I could not make my program do what my online teacher could do with ease. However, I persevered and once I figured out the order of the layers I was off to the races.

Here is a photo of my little guy when he was just a few days old. I made the picture have a sepia tone in just a few quick clicks. I need to work more on figuring out what blending modes do what but I can certainly see their value!