sdeighton on October 12, 2018

My learning activity is to make an online poster to define and show biomagnification to help explain the causes and effects when contaminants enter a food chain.  I used the SECTIONS method to design a lesson that I could use in my class.  The lesson is to make a poster of an aquatic food chain.  I found a website called Canva  which is a graphic design website.

Science 7 Lesson Plan

 Class:  Grade  7 Science

Task:  Make a poster of an aquatic food chain showing 3 or 4 Trophic levels


  • Trace and interpret the flow of energy and materials within an ecosystem
  • analyze an ecosystem to identify biotic and abiotic components, and describe interactions among these components
  • analyze ecosystems to identify producers, consumers and decomposers; and describe how energy is supplied to and flows through a food web.

Report Card Outcomes:

  • Analyzes and solves problems through scientific reasoning
  • Understands and makes connections between concepts
  • Explores scientific events and issues in society and the environment

Resources:, Google images


  • Review previous lesson on consumers, producers, decomposers and how energy flows through a simple food chain.
  • Students would log onto, being led by teacher on Smartboard.
  • Show basics of how to make a poster and use navigation bar on Canva.
  • Images of different organisms can be obtained by using google images.
  • Comment on biomagnification and amount of pollutants at each level.

I searched for some graphic design websites and settled on Canva.  It seems easy to use and should, with some guidance, be manageable for my students.  Students can sign up with school email accounts, can save copies of designs on their computers and export their designs.  Canva has a free option, however there seems to be a charge for some pictures.  Most pictures are free and pictures can be uploaded from google images and used in the design.  The site seems safe for students to use, they are giving no personal information other than a school email address.



sdeighton on October 10, 2018

The activity I’m evaluating is Gizmos which offerers interactive online simulations for math and science.  The material is presented in a way that encourages enquiry and exploration of various concepts.

  • S tudents

Simulations are based on Alberta Ed. curriculum and are appropriate for each age group.  Students can access Gizmos on school provided laptops.  They have to set up a password and are assigned to a specific class.  They can access Gizmos from their home computers also.  Simulations don’t work well on cell phones.

  • E ase of use

The simulations are very user friendly.  A question sheet, which requires you to fill out answers based on simulations, takes you through each activity in an easy to follow step by step progression.  It does not take a long period of times to learn how to use a Gizmo simulation.  Additionally there is background information and a vocabulary sheet available.  As well it is meant to help reinforce concepts that have already been covered in class.

  • C osts

The cost is around $3000 for our entire school of 850 students per year.   Cost is a major factor and we are lucky that out administration sees value in this expense.

  • T eaching functions

Learning outcomes are all based on those put forward by Alberta Education.  The content is not particularily difficult and well within the abilityy level of most students.  Students are also able to work in small groups where they can help each other.

  • I nteraction

There is inherent interactivity present in Gizmos . Students are forced to respond to stimuli on the screen and can’t go on to next stage until they have responded.  It helps them move towards a deeper understanding of concepts.

  • O rganisational issues

Activities are already set up and ready to use.  Organizational issues are not a concern, the instructional services are already in place.

  • N etworking

This would not be a concern for my students using Gizmos.

  1. S ecurity and privacy

The site is secure, schools get an access password that teachers can use to set up and enroll students in their classes.   Students have to create a username and a password, however, they do not put any personal information onto the site.

sdeighton on October 6, 2018

A massive open online course (MOOC) is a type of online university course that is not constrained by what would be considered a traditional learning approach.  The course would be open to anyone from throughout the world, have limited prerequisites to take it, all the resources needed are online and most are offered free of charge.  The two articles on MOOCs provide somewhat opposing views on the success of learning in such a realm as opposed to a more traditional approach, especially in regard to someone who is a new or novice learner.  A connectivist approach to education would support this type of learning where individuals are required to make connections with others, are totally responsible for their learning with limited involvement by a “teacher” and must be able to access and use technology.  Connectivism is a learning theory that explains how Internet technologies have created new opportunities for people to learn and share information across the World Wide Web and among themselves. These technologies include Web browsers, email, wikis, online discussion forums, social networks, YouTube, and any other tool which enables the users to learn and share information with other people. (Siemens, G. 2005)

New knowledge and technology can be hard to keep up with and out of reach for many people.  Individuals trying to learn in this atmosphere without proper guidance can be easily lost in a sea of information.   Based on my own experience I find the connectivist pedagogy to be flawed.  In  taking an online course after being out of school for many years and not familiar with much of the technology that exists today, I would likely be unsuccessful in the connectivist philosophy of learning.  Courses, like the current one I’m in, have a set curriculum, an instructor who is available for assistance and continuous feedback, weekly scheduled assignments with required and optional readings.  I’ve never taken A MOOC or seen how they are set up, but I’m gathering from the readings that they may not be ideal for someone who is new to this type of learning.  Brennan says that good mastery experiences, for novices, are characterised by corrective feedback, achievability, and a cognitive load that presents both a degree of challenge, but also leaves enough space for complex learning. They don’t bore, they engage, they are challenging and attainable, and they track the moving target that is the developing learner as their needs and abilities change. (Brennan, K. 2013)

In Downes rebuttal, he states that not the job of the online course to meed the needs of the novice learner but for the novice learner to be able to set their own terms based on their own personal level and  find a way to take the initiative to do things for themselves.  At a certain point in a complex world a learner has to be able to set the bar for him or herself, to set the challenges appropriately, and find the relevant resources. The more an instructional designer does it for you, the less able you are to do it for yourself, and ultimately, the less useful the resource would be. (Downes, S. 2013).  I can see how ones sense of self-efficacy can be hindered in a MOOC by the very nature of the complex structure at their very core.  Self-efficacy is our belief that a task is achievable by us, and that the environment in which we are working will allow us to achieve that task. (Bandura, A.  1997) . If connectivist philosophy was the norm in middle school education there would be many confused and defeated students who would be wandering around in an abyss of online material.  For the teenage learners that I deal with on a daily basis, their sense of self being and self worth is critical and the approach to teaching them must take this into account.  Cognitive load has a relationship to feelings of fear and anxiety, and to mastery experiences. It’s also a critical mechanism for explaining how and why novice learners particularly may have difficulty in unstructured environments. (Brennan, K. 2013)   I like to keep my lessons and approach to teaching well structured with this in mind for most of the learners I a responsible for.  There, however, are always exceptions.  There are many students who I have taught over the years who would excel in MOOC’s, they are mature confident and capable learners who are well adept at using technology.  These students would be an exception rather than an rule and for the majority a more “traditional” course approach would work best.



Brennan, K. (2013).  In Connectivism, No One Can Hear You Scream: A guide to understanding the MOOC novice. Hybrid Pedagogy. 24 July 2013.

Downes, S. (2013). Connectivism and the Primal Scream. Half an Hour. 25 July 2013.

Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy. The exercise of control. New York:
W.H.Freeman and Company.Emory University, Division of Educational Studies, Information on Self-Efficacy: A Community of Scholars.

The readings from Kanuka and Anderson & Dron made me reflect on my on my own teaching practices and which educational model I most identify with.  I, for a time, had resisted changing the way I teach and becoming more accepting an willing to change with the times.  I taught in what would be considered a “traditional”  approach, me providing the information at the front of the classroom and students, in rows, listening and doing most work on their own.  I have adapted to using a more Humanist approach where the role of the teacher is that of facilitator, helper, and partner in the learning process. The teacher does not simply provide information;he or she must create the conditions within which learning can take place. The teacher should facilitate the process of the students to be self-directed, by serving as a resource person and by encouraging students to set their own goals.  (Kanuka, H. 2008)  Over the years I’ve adapted to the idea that learning should be a more active than passive endeavor.  Another quote made me feel good about my teaching practice over the years and my sometimes confusing relationship with technology in the classroom. “Educators have always had profoundly ambiguous and often suspicious relationships with technology.”  (Anderson, T. & Dron, J. 2012) I feel relieved that grappling with educational technology has been going on since the beginning of formalized education.

sdeighton on September 30, 2018

I think that social bookmarking is a tool that could be valuable to me as a teacher.  This is the first I’ve heard of social bookmarking.  I bookmark many sites for my purposes and every once in a while by chance I happen across an excellent website that helps me in the classroom.  If I was able to find sites easier and narrow down the items I’m looking for, rather than my needle in a haystack approach, I could save myself a lot of wasted time.  If I was able to share these sites as well as be introduced to other good sites it could help improve the content of  material I deliver to my students.  A good example of I site that I could use for my science class is  .  I would like to share this site with colleagues and students and as well have access to excellent sites that others have found.


sdeighton on September 28, 2018

I’m using Paul’s criteria to analyze .

Is the website name embedded in the URL with a recognizable domain?

The name of site is in the URL and it’s a .org domain

 Are the content and intentions of the website made clear on the home page?

The content and intentions are very clear as well there is a link to a video which makes the contents even more clear.

Is the grammar and spelling of content well-presented and correct?

The grammar and spelling are both fine

Is it well laid out with obvious navigation tools where you were expecting?

The site is easy to navigate, there are 5 headings: Dashboard, Classes, Library, Cafe and Browse.

Is the information provided first or second hand by the website’s authors?

The information would have been researched and presented in a unique way for educational purposes.

Are there hyperlinks to given sources? 

Yes there are many hyperlinks to sources.

Do you need to subscribe for a free or paid period to use the website?

It is a free website with an option to make a donation.

Are there many adverts and/or pop-ups when using the website?

There are no ads or pop-ups.  There is a hyperlink to the APP store and there are symbols of business who are sponsors when you go to a “Partners” link on bottom of page.

Can you comment/report or contact website owners/writers easily?

There are many help functions at the bottom of homepage such as: webinars, help and contact.

Can you tell where/why/when each piece of information was created?

I can’t see when or where each piece of information was created.  “Why” is for educational purposes.

Does the website have privacy policies and/or terms and conditions readily available?

This site has an extensive terms of use section where items such as prohibited conduct are outlined in great detail.

sdeighton on September 28, 2018

The Criteria I would use to evaluate a resource found on the internet for my students:

  1. Is the site appropriate in content for the age group? Are the language and visuals appropriate for a junior high age student.
  2. Is the content from a reputable source and is the content verifiable.
  3. Is the educational content of the site appropriate for the assignment.
  4. Is the site user friendly.
  5. Is it a free or a pay site.

The website I decided to evaluate is  which is a site that provides educational resources based on state curriculum in the USA.

  1.  This is an educational resource site for years k-12.  It would be appropriate for a junior high age group.
  2. The site was started by two reputable individuals who’s backgrounds can be easily researched online.  It’s educational content is verifiable as it can be checked out against other educational websites for veracity.
  3. This would be appropriate for any assignment based on principles in math, science, technology or engineering.  There is information on any concept covered in the curriculum.
  4. The site is very user friendly. There is an easy to follow menu of various units in science and math  as well as a search function.
  5. This is a free site to join and it does accept donations.


sdeighton on September 25, 2018

The Creative Commons site I found that could be useful to my teaching is  called CriticalPast.  I was searching of some footage of the insecticite DDT being sprayed on people and fields and I happened across this website.   On the website it talks about the license agreement and it says, “Use CriticalPast to find, order, and receive video footage, screeners, and photo images easier and faster than ever before.  We license our clips and images royalty-free, worldwide, in perpetuity, for all media”

sdeighton on September 23, 2018

In the grade 8 math class I have taught many years, I have an budget assignment that I gave every year.   In the assignment each student has to find a job, calculate  gross and net income, complete a pay stub and create a budget (focusing on using fractional percents) for one month of living.  They have to budget for cost of shelter, food, transportation, clothing, furniture etc.  In the past students would find their jobs and apartment to rent in the newspaper and cut items out of flyers and catalogues  which they would then paste on posters to show items that they wanted to purchase.  Over the years this assignment has evolved into an assignment that helps develop digital literacy as well as showing students some of the realities of life when they are no longer living at home.

A few years ago I started using a digital format and every aspect of assignment was done online.  What surprised me most was how the students were not as digitally literate as I would of thought considering the amount of time they spend on computers.

From chapter on one on Fundamental Change in Education: “Thus teachers and instructors are faced with a massive challenge of change. How can we ensure that we are developing the kinds of graduates from our courses and programs that are fit for an increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous future? What should we continue to protect in our teaching methods (and institutions), and what needs to change?”

This idea has had an impact on my teaching and changes that I need to make in order to further the digital literacy of my students as opposed to being stuck in “old” ways of teaching.  In this assignment students are now required to find a job and an apartment online.  Build their own online pays stub, make a spreadsheet for their budget, shop online and present everything in a powerpoint that they share with the class.   Learning outcomes based on problem solving, communication and creativity are now achieved in this online format.


sdeighton on September 21, 2018

I typically need a lot of help when it comes to my use of technology in the classroom.  I tend to get help from staff members, students and youtube.  The teacher who instructs the Tech class is the most important person on staff to get to know.  My biggest challenge every year is setting up my D2L shells, getting students registered and putting on content.  It is an excellent organizational tool for students, however, unless you spend a lot of time tinkering with it, it can be complicated to set up .  Since it is usually set up at the start of the year, by the time  you get to the next school year one may have forgotten everything from the previous year.  Students are also a good source of technical assistance at times and they are usually more than happy to help out and show you what they  know and help you with problems that may arise during class.  And finally there is youtube which is a great tool for technical issues at school and to for assistance with this course.