Assistive Technology: Allowing for Equal Opportunities for All to Learn

November 18, 2018

Assistive Technologies allow for every student to learn in the ways that best suit their needs. As I have learned from the presentation from this week I learned that there are a vast variety that range from no tech, such as the pencil grip to low tech, like the FM system, to high tech which includes touch screen devices or read and write tech.

So, what is Assistive Tech? Here is a video to give some more information.


I have always had issues with technologies. They always tend to malfunction when I need them the most, or I always feel like I do things the hard way or get the broken devices. Whether it be working with ELMO that projects everything with a yellow tint, or the Promethean (similar to the SMART board) that sits broken for more than a year, or the outdated desktop computer that keeps the teacher stuck to the desk for many lessons because it isn’t portable. Any assistive technologies in my classroom, tend to be like these other devices, old and not updated or cared for. I feel that assistive technologies that I have seen or have used within the classroom tend to work if there is a specific student who currently needs it, but then that student ends up being identified and having a disability and the entire class knows about it. The costs tend to be acceptable because the specific student has the need, but I think about all other student who also could have benefited from these devices but may not have had such visible or high needs to make it a priority to the school.

Similar to Amy, I too have chosen to write about the FM system as the assistive tool that I have had the experience using. Ah yes, the lovely FM system

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that I first started using in my classroom would cut in and out, fail to charge, always need new batteries or some other malfunction. It was never a priority to have it fixed, even though I had made it known that it did not work up to standard.

H….H…ell….o. Testing…. 1…2…3…

But, like Amy, I too felt/students said I looked like a singer about to perform on stage. “Finally the cool teacher!” Ha ha. It wasn’t until I specifically had a student in my classroom that needed this system in order to hear me. This student had aids to assist with her hearing and the FM system allowed for her to hear me more clearly. I had never thought that my students would have trouble hearing me because I have always had a loud voice and projected when I spoke.

What I did not realize was that when I would face the board, or was not facing this student directly, she would hear half or nothing of what I was saying and thus needed the FM system as well as a device that I wore around my neck that would amplify the sound and direct it into her hearing aids.

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When I think about the video that was played in the presentation, about how the teacher introduces different assistive technology to the entire class, instead of the student to which it is directed, it allows for that student to keep his or her needs to himself or herself instead of having it publicly announced to the class. As I reflected upon this, I think that this would be the best way for me to introduce any assistive technologies to the classroom (if I can) so that I do my best to avoid having the one student stand out. I had never really thought that by introducing them in this way, I may also be reaching students who did not realize that they needed these technologies to make their learning more accessible.

In the case of this FM system, every student in the class had already know about this student’s hearing needs and they were all quite comfortable with it and they all did their best to assist her whenever possible in such friendly and helpful ways. Once it was well known that this student needed the FM system to hear, all the FM systems in the school got fixed or replaced. Whether this was to avoid singling out a specific student with hearing needs or if it created awareness to the benefits of the FM systems, it was a positive outcome in my school. I was happy to see that this would benefit the students that were unidentified with hearing needs. It took a while for my classroom to get a working FM system and probably could have assisted more students had it been updated on a regular basis.

Overall, I think that assistive technologies can help educators individualized student learning programs and that they should be available and maintained within all schools for all students who may need them to assist in their learning needs. It should be the priority of the school to maintain the devices they do have so that when there are students with these needs, they have immediate access to them in order to be able to continue learning in an not be hindered by lack of accessibility.


Assessment Technology in the Classroom: Which One(s) Should I Choose?


November 7, 2018

If I were to choose an educational technology tool for assessment (to begin with), my first choice would probably flip grid.

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We were introduced to Flipgrid as the first assignment in our EdTech class in order to introduce ourselves and explain our reason for joining the class. I was nervous at first sending in a video of myself, (because I hate being on camera) but after seeing that I could keep re-recording till I found a video that I felt comfortable with made me feel more at ease with this tool.

I would use it to have my students introduce themselves to me. As I am coming back to the classroom, mid-way through the year after my second maternity leave, I feel that this would be beneficial to me to get to know the students that I will be teaching. Since, they will have to re-introduce themselves all over (as if it is September again), I like how Flipgrid would allow for them to record an introduction that they felt comfortable sharing.

Most, if not all, the students already know me, since I am returning to the same school with some of the kids I had just before my leave, it will not be too new for me in regards to meeting them, but I will give me a better opportunity to introduce more technology into my classroom. I feel that by starting with Flipgrid I can incorporate more formative assessments as well as allowing for those who are not comfortable speaking up in class, or those who need more time to prepare an answer, to do so with this technology tool.

I plan to use the tool to answer questions possibly at the beginning, mid-way through and end of unit to see the growth of their answers. I could use it as an assessment for my teaching to ask the students how they feel about the material they are learning and what they like or would like to see change. I think I could even extend it to get to know parents and to have them voice their ideas about what their child is learning or any concerns they may have and use it as a way to connect with parents in between report card times as an addition to the ways I am connecting with them already.

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  • Quick response time
  • Allows for student to think about questions and find answers that they are comfortable with before submitting it to the teacher
  • It would allow for parents who cannot come in person or call during hours that I am at school to voice their concerns, make comments
  • Short videos would push students to be concise and speak thoughtfully
  • It will notify the teacher when responses come in
  • Has a free version
  • Would teach a culture of respect for others ideas and opinions
  • Empowers student voice
  • Would be beneficial for the music class to have students perform for the camera in a more comfortable setting, instead of always in person
  • Could work well for listening to students read aloud (Daily 5 activity?)



  • Class may not be mature enough to use it wisely
  • Accessibility to internet, camera and microphone is needed to access this tool
  • If I opened it to parents, it could turn into a place where parents complain or address too many minor issues that they wouldn’t have necessarily done so over the phone or in person
  • Students with any verbal disabilities may have troubles with expressing their thoughts
  • The extended version costs money and would depend on school/division to cover costs of this tool or the teacher themselves
  • It is directed towards high school and higher-level students and I teach middle years

Overall, I think the benefits outweigh the disadvantages of this technology tool and feel that it would serve as a great formative tool, especially for someone who is attempting to integrate more technology into their own teaching repertoire.

Web 1.0, Web 2.0 and Now the Amazing (But Still Kind of The Same)Web 3.0!

November 3, 2018

My first memories of the internet do not exist within the domains of the school, but in my family home. I think the first I remember is Windows 95

when I was in middle years. Oh yes, and good old dial-up. I will never forget that connection sound,

sitting patiently until the mating call of the phone line connecting with the computer as it called back. The phone was then off limits. No calls in, no calls out. I used to worry that my friends (who rarely called) would not be able to get a hold of me because someone was online. We would only be on the computer for an hour (or usually less) a day and only if there was an assignment to research and we couldn’t find the information in our family’s collection of Encyclopedia Britannica.

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If I wasn’t researching I might only use the computer for games like “Chip’s Challenge”


or “Solitaire” or “Ski Free”


where you had to try to avoid being eaten by the abominable snow yeti at the bottom of the hill, but it never worked.

Fast forward to the early-mid 2000s when Web 2.0 came around. The article “What Does ‘Web 2.0’ Even Mean? How Web 2.0 Completely Changed Society” discusses that the web is no longer a “static web” but “interactive”. We could connect with others on the internet, no longer needing to wait for the home phone to be available.  My first introduction to this was MSN messenger. I didn’t start using it till a few years after the majority of my peers had been, but once I did, I was quite intrigued that I could talk to my friends and even connect with friends that had moved away and I didn’t have their phone numbers. Now we move into an era where anybody can put anything on the web; videos, Wikipedia, blogs and more. You had to be careful about what to trust for research and also what images you put up or what comments you made on social media. There became a time where I almost feared what social media could do to my reputation as an educator that I was almost prepared to delete (believing, at the time, I could delete it completely) my social media accounts. As I educated myself on digital citizenship, I realized that it wasn’t so scary to include personal information, but I had to be cognizant of what I would share and what I would not.

As from what I understand Web 3.0, from the presentation of my fellow classmates and the articles they provided, to be is that now we have the ability to have most of our technology to be connected to the web and that these technological devices can share information with one another, data they have collected from us, and allow for us to improve and make easier the things that we need to do. All this data is gathered about myself and other users in order to make technology more efficient and more user friendly. I was quite surprised when my Iphone, on its own, marked the location of my parked car and later when I needed to walk back to it, I received a notification on my car’s location. I was at first a bit concerned about lack of privacy, but having history of always losing my car in a parking lot, I was happy that I no longer needed to use my key fob to sound the alarm or horn on my car so that I could find it again in the parking lot. The more I relied on apps such as my maps, the more it adapted to my behaviors, keeping track of the places I went and other such data, that it can sometimes predict where I need to be. I also like how it connects with my calendar and suggests when I should leave my house, while giving me traffic updates, in order to allow me to get to my destinations on time.

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Since the move to Web 3.0 has affected our learners, their environments and connections with others I think of Jackie Gerstein)’s quote, “The Web, Internet, Social Media, and the evolving, emerging technologies have created a perfect storm or convergence of resources, tools, open and free information access.” I think about how Web 3.0 is changing education. It began with Web 2.0 “technologies such as blogs, wikis, podcasts, social networks, and virtual worlds have become popular and are gradually making their way into the classroom” (Constructivism and Web 2.0 in the Emerging Learning Era: A Global Perspective, p 18). We have given rise to the constructivist learner and acknowledge that the educator is no longer the main source of information. We can no longer, as educators, use the excuse that we do not know how to use technology as a way from keeping it out of our classrooms. It would not be beneficial to our learners because of the ever-present way that it exists within their every day lives. It would be ignorant for educators to not adapt to the changes of society. As the internet allows for greater connection to social media, to other types of education technologies and more, educators need to be able to provide the opportunities for their students to be able to learn about these devices and technologies so that they can not only educated them on how to use them in their own education and lives, but how to be safe while using them.

Of course, this means that there will be those who are more advantaged to the opportunities to learn with technology and to be able to connect with others in this manner, and those that will be disadvantaged. Technology costs money. Those schools that have the access will be able to provide these opportunities for their students, not only through the purchasing of the technology itself, but through the education of the educators who will be using it to teach their students. The second advantage would be to the students who could afford their own devices for their uses outside of school. Those who cannot will, thus, be disadvantaged. Similarly, if educators cannot afford these devices, they too will be disadvantage and most likely creating similar disadvantage to their own students because they will not have the opportunity to use it outside of the classroom. Other disadvantage that have been mentioned in the article “Constructivism and Web 2.0 in the Emerging Learning Era: A Global Perspective” include privacy issues and plagiarism. It is much easier to plagiarize since the access of information is so prevalent and easy to access. The article also mentioned that that privacy would be a disadvantage because of the openness to access that allows for anyone to read materials placed on the web. Also, teens nowadays, as Amy B has mentioned in her post, are always connected to the web with their own devices. They do not no how to disengage or possibly give themselves boundaries to how much they are on the web or use their technology. As, Dr. Alec Couros mentioned in a CTV interview discussing the videogame “Fortnite” and as Amy B. also mentions about device usage, that there need to be boundaries set and healthy limits for internet access and social media interaction not only with children, but apparently adults as well. If we as adults, parents, and educators do not show ourselves setting limits, then how should we expect our children and students to do the same? But as my fellow classmates, Adam and Kelly mention in their blog posts, it is important for educators to take risks with the technologies they use in order to find out what works best for our students and for us as educators. It is part of our responsibility as educators to discover what works best for the education of our students and we can do so through the use of the internet, Web 3.0.

The Evolution of Web 1.0, to 2.0 and 3.0.

Online and Blended Learning or Face-To-Face, That IS the Question

October 28, 2018

So, this is it. The halfway point. Yee-haw! (I never say yee-haw) I’m doing it! I think I’ve finally become comfortable with Zoom, (it’s about time)

its about time drama GIF by BBC

. I have learned how to blog (still improving), I set up my first ever Twitter account and, I never thought I would, but I tweet weekly, if not more (still figuring out hashtags or as I used to call them, pound sign)

.the west wing hashtag GIF

I was introduced to Google Plus (a plus in my books 😛 ) and Google communities (productivity “swe-eet”). And then I learned about all the teaching aids like Mentimeter, Fipgrid, Remind, and more.

When I first signed up for this class, I thought I would be quite lost. I don’t use much in the ways of computers in my classroom because of my lack of knowledge and my fear that something will stop working and I will be stuck without a plan. But when YouTube was down during the presentation of one of our class groups, two weeks ago, I was very impressed with their ability to pull off a great presentation despite technological difficulties.  I feel more confident after being in this class thus far. Not only with a plethora of educational tools that I have learned about, but also through my own navigation and trials with these tools during this course. (I already plan to use some when I return to work).

If my classes were to move to online versus face-to-face, truth be told, I would be terrified at first. My own confidence and skills with computers are still in the learning phase and I would definitely have a huge learning curve to face. I still prefer face-to-face classes for reasons such as: I find it more comfortable and easier to interact with others face-to-face, I have limited skills and knowledge with the tools, I teach elementary/middle years and don’t see how online courses would work with this age group (I think this would be a form best suited for adult learners or high school students, student readiness), the motivation to learn is solely dependent on the learner (best for adult learners who are better self-disciplined and willing to do the work independently) and I would have to change my methods of teaching (for one, being in front of a computer screen instead of moving around the classroom), lack of hands-on activities and experience and group work becomes a bit more difficult (our group still met face-to-face).

On the other hand, I do see benefits as well: (many of which I discovered after reading A Review of Benefits and Limitations of Online Learning in the Context of the Student, the Instructor and the Tenured Faculty there is an ease of access (I don’t have to leave my house so I can be closer to family, or one could take class at work), I’m in my own surrounds and have the comforts that would be conducive to learning, the participants can be a part of the class from anywhere, not just within the city, we wouldn’t have to worry about travel to the class or weather, learner autonomy (we have choice to a certain degree in what we learn and how we learn), interactivity (there is communication and the sharing of knowledge between many different learners), varied perspectives (from the great diversity of learners all coming together to share their knowledge from varied locations), costs would be reduced (learners supply their own learning devices, internet access, materials are available online, usually for no extra cost), data can be revised immediately (no wait time at the copier), and it allows for anonymity (those who are not comfortable sharing ideas face-to-face could be more comfortable to do so).

Would I be comfortable overall switching to online? No, not yet anyway. I have discussed many benefits to it but feel that the disadvantages would deter me from choosing to move towards teaching courses online. I guess there’s just a bit of “old school” in me that I can’t yet change.  But, do I prefer to take online courses myself? A bit of yes and a bit of no. As this is my first online course I am finding challenges with navigating my way through the technology, while learning a lot about the content. But I do feel that it is easier, like Scott has discussed, to balance the juggling act of family, career and study. I would definitely like to take another online course, even though I am struggling a bit through this one, because I believe that through practice, study and application, I can greatly improve my own education on technology and eventually  include it more in my teaching.

Single-Tasking in a Multi-tasking Generation

October 19, 2018

“Single-tasking is the new Multi-tasking” was discussing how people are distracted by all the tasks that they have to do that they are not actually able to focus because more than one activity would cause your focus to be split and not as good as focus on one thing. Even as I type this, my husband has a video game playing on the TV in the room I am doing my work, which is distracting me. The baby monitor changes between my toddler’s room and my ten-month-old’s room and I glance at it every now and again just to make sure everyone is alright. I glance over at the cell phone that is placed at my right because it just buzzed an update on Pinterest or a new email from work (even though I am currently on mat leave I am still interrupted by work emails). And finally, the computer that I am typing this blog on has about ten different windows open on the internet, 2 power points and three Word documents (which I learned from this weeks presentations inECI833  is a productivity suite) that I switch between because I am currently working on two grad classes and their multiple .

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And this is only during the evening. The daily tasks tend to have at least five things going on at once in order to get them all done. I find that like the man in the video, I don’t really remember when I was only doing one task. I’ll start with one and then when researching I will get distracted by an article that will lead me off task. Or a buzz on my phone for Facebook or Twitter will pop up and then I will get sucked into that. Fortunately, deadlines keep me somewhat focused, and even though I will finish my work, I will have probably finished and/or started at least three other things in the process.

The internet has caused our society to be less one-track minded to multi-track minded. As Adam mentions in his post we have become “zombified” by are constant needs to be on our phones, even in the middle of conversations with other people. As Adam mentioned, I too feel like a nuisance when others are checking their phones while taking to me, like I am interrupting something important that they need to attend to instead of focusing on my company and conversation. The internet can be a great cause for distraction for people. It’s become the social norm to be doing something else while you are with someone in person. We are losing the social graces of giving our undivided attention to speakers and being present in the moment. As soon as our brains tend to tune out, we pop out our phones and distract ourselves or entertain ourselves. This inability to focus on one thing also causes the inability for most children to know what being bored feels like. They need the constant stimulation. Many adults are doing this as well. It’s almost as if we are afraid to just sit still and think or do nothing, or we don’t know how to create our own entertainment or to just be.

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But I also feel like even though the internet’s distractions can place us off task, like Scott mentions in his post, I too believe it is a productivity tool. The internet has allowed me to take part in a grad class without ever leaving my house. I didn’t need to buy a textbook because all of the readings are online. I also do all of my assignment using the assistance of the internet; for twitter, this blog, and more. I also use the internet for my other grad class. One of the textbooks was not available in print because it was back ordered, but I was able to buy the digital version and download it to my computer. So, the productivity of the internet has allowed me to do all these things even though there still is the potential for distractions. I think that just means that I need to be more self-disciplined when I find myself going off task.

I feel like life comes with all different types of distractions, whether they exist through the internet and other devices or even if they just include a screaming toddler who is chasing after the toy poodle while the baby bangs the pans on the floor after he just emptied the cupboard (yes this happened).


(This is the toy poodle, notice the distraction?!)

It’s up to us to use tools like the internet for what we need it to be. The single-tasking can occur if we shut down notifications temporarily or try to stick to one task all the way through. We need to be able to teach our children and students the importance of focus and how to avoid the distractions that would otherwise interrupt our work and life. In this fast-paced world where so many things happen all at once, learning to do one thing at a time could end up being not only productive but better for us in the long term.

Engaging Education with Audio-Visual Technology


October 13, 2018

If I were to ask you if you would rather sit down and read a paper, describing a particular topic that you need to learn, that contains a few images and about 50 pages long OR sit through an entertaining video including songs, jokes and well-known movies stars; which would you choose?

If I were to guess, I would say the first.

Learning needs to be stimulating, engaging and maybe even entertaining. After reading Neil Postman’s article “Learning in the Age of Television” I thought about how he connected watching “Sesame Street” to “undermine the idea of traditional schooling”, he discusses many differences between being educated by television versus being educated in school. The television, he mentions, can act as the educator for a child when a parent/caregiver is unwilling to be the teacher himself. Children are entertained by television. School is not always that entertaining. Postman mentions that school is a place of social interaction whereas television can be on one’s own. You can ask the teacher questions, but cannot do the same to the television. In the classroom today we do not need to fight with the technology but use it to assist in student learning.

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Children and adults alike use smartphones, tablets, or other hand-held devices as a form of entertainment. Whether one is actually reading a book, article or other form of print, listening to music, talking to others, playing a game (mindless or educational), perusing social media or whatever it may be it is usually to be entertained. Learning may occur, but is not the main reason for having the device. Yet, when these devices are brought into the school, the school is not intending for them to be used as entertainment, but as learning tools. But, what may not be fully realized is that with the learning comes some form of entertainment (or at least the ones that the students want to use). I find that I retain more information when I am entertained or enjoying what I am learning.

 The use of AV (audio-visual) aids, when it was first introduced into educational settings in 1928, (page 34) was to aid the teacher in the presentation of the material. As Haiming and Brooke mention in their blogs about how the traditional idea of the classroom is based on the behaviourist learning theory that has the teachers participating in the direct exchange of information to students while standing at the front of a classroom and lecturing to them. The use of AV aids allows for the opportunities for students with varying learning styles to be given the opportunity to learn in ways that work best for them.

The use of audio-visual technologies in the classroom has allowed for an approach towards connectivism in teaching and away from the behaviourist and constructivist theories on teaching. As was discussed in the presentation this week, AV has led to an opportunity for students to connect with others and to engage more fully through their own learning styles in the classroom.

Pitts explains how media has changed the way we learn where

in the past the printed word was the dominant mode of communicating meaning, new  media have enabled other modes to come to the fore. Kress (2003) explored how new   media transforms arguing that the dominance of writing is being replaced by the           dominance of the image, and the dominance of the book is being replaced by the          dominance of the (literacy digital) screen ( page 23).

In society now, being literate doesn’t only include being able to read and write but also involves being multimodal. In today’s modern classrooms it is the educator’s job to be able to maximize the opportunities for students to use technology to their educational advantage.


Coding in the Classroom

October 4, 2018

I became a programmer!…

..bill nye mind blown GIF

Well for a little while anyway, and with lots of help from the instruction manual which came from a programming textbook. I got a little taste of programming after trying out “Programming in LOGO” as this week’s assignment for ECI833. What I found out about myself after trying my hand at this….. well let’s just say, I should keep my day job. Image result for emoticons happy face with tongue

The purpose of the manual is to introduce programming in classrooms and to be used by educators for their students as an introduction to coding. I could see this being useful in computer classes and math classes and probably for the upper middle years and high school. It allows for students to problems solve, calculate, create, and to receive and introduction to what programming entails.

Even though I got frustrated at times (I have spatial and directional issue?) I was able to follow the guide quite well. The commands are numerous and become quite tedious to type out, but if you are not specific and concise, the computer does not understand what you want it to do. I thought I was pretty good at following directions, but I would miss a step here or there and, of course, end up with something completely different from what I was supposed to get. I had to force myself to slow down and make sure I typed in the correct commands. Even the spelling is important. I was going too fast one time and instead of spelling “repeat” I typed “repaet” and after this was after typing a long command. I had to do it all over again because of a small (and silly) spelling error. Attention to detail!

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As the commands to complete the lessons became more difficult I realized that I had to write it on paper first in order to figure out the problem. I could not easily do it in my head. I also had to mark my starting point, because when there were repeating patterns I would get confused as to why my results never matched that of the text. Slowly, but surely, I began to get used to it. For this reason, I think that this particular program would be better used grades 6 or 7 and up.

Then we got to the “pen up” section, which allowed you to make lines side by side without being connected to one another. The problem that I quickly found out was that if you tell it to pen up (pu) and forget to tell it to pen down (pd) then the rest of your commands will be invisible. That can be frustrating as well.

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What I really appreciated about this manual and why I think it would be beneficial for students upper middle years and higher is that it made me do the commands the long way first so that  I understood exactly what I were telling the program to do. Then it showed different ways of naming the program so that I could use shortcuts and save myself time in the end (very similar to what students learn in math such as short division after one learns long division, or creating a formula, but in the end only memorizing the formula instead of having to recreate it each time). These lessons in coding are very good at teaching patience and persistence. There are many times I was trying to solve a problem and could not after several attempts. It forced me to look at my thinking process so that I could think of how I could do it differently in order to succeed.

I was also interested in learning about how I could introduce coding to younger grades, and after reading about coding, on CBC’s, called “Why Kids Should Learn To Code (And How To Get Them Started)” ,it lead me to another website called “Hour of Code” that would work for students around age 8. The students would not be expected to type in the code, as I did with the program I used, but instead use a drag and drop method. I tried Moana’s “Wayfinding with Code that include 19 short lessons.

It also comes with a short video at the beginning to introduce children to what coding is and why it might be of use to them to learn.

     Seymour Papert’s Theory of Constructivism states “[f]rom constructivist theories of psychology we take a view of learning as a reconstruction rather than as a transmission of knowledge”. With these lessons, students will not just be transmitting what they know from math classes to programming, but have to rethink or “reconstruct” their thinking on what they have learned throughout school in order to solve the problems that are presented. They aren’t just asked to solve a problem that they have seen before but to attempt it, possibly make mistakes, and then have to think about how they can attempt the same problem in a different manner from the first in order to make the program work the way they want it to. They will not only learn different things about the math, space, directions and more, but also about their own thinking processes. If I were to incorporate this into a classroom, I would suggest that the students be put into groups so that they can collaborate and work with each other to be successful.

So, will I introduce coding into my grade 5/6 class when I go back in December? I think I would be interesting to try and beneficial to my students. I would definitely have to play around more with different programs made for teaching code and further educate myself, but I definitely see the benefits and believe it would be worth it to my students education.