ED4764:The Internet and Education · KSA #09 Instructional Strategies · KSA #10 Technology · KSA #16 Vision of Teaching

Pencil, Paper and a Whiteboard is No Longer the Status Quo

In this module we discussed the different ways that students can publish work and that we can engage students in their learning online.

Digital storytelling is defined in its most basic form as using technology to tell a story (University of Houston Education, 2013). On their homepage, they circulate a number of quotes; the following really resonated with me

” The cooperative learning process of debate, discussion, and reflection that students engage in as they work together to storyboard, shoot, and edit their digital stories is critical to the learning process. ” ~ Mark Standley

I am a huge proponent of cooperative learning, which can be supported by the use of digital storytelling. Even though students are making and telling their story, they are able to engage in discussion with their peers about the direction they are heading. There is so much value to learning when students are able to work together, even if on individual projects, to discuss their direction. How often have you started to ask another person a question and just through the act of talking and having someone listen, you came to the conclusion yourself? I can say this has happened to me more times than I could count.

Once the student has decided where to take their project and have published their final project, the learning does not cease but continues. These stories are published online with a worldwide audience. This opportunity creates a truly authentic learning experience for our students because when students know that anyone can view their project, they naturally will rise higher to the challenge. This pushes our students to achieve higher levels of thinking, pushing them towards attainment of self-actualization and higher levels of Blooms Taxonomy.

Paul Iwancio (2010) produced a video, which clearly describes the 7 Elements [of Digital Storytelling] in 4 Minutes (see below). Digitizing the Writing Workshop provides a clear lesson plan for engaging students in grade 4-10 in Digital Storytelling (Benner & Guhlin, n.d.)

In the Science 10 classroom, digital storytelling could be used to tell the story of a cell. I think it is a difficult for students to understand the different roles of the organelles in plant and animals cells. However, if students were able to connect the roles of the organelles to various objects in their everyday life (ex. Jello for cytoplasm, a battery or the crowd at a basketball game for the mitochondria, a basketball coach at the nucleus, etc.) this would help them to retain the material. If the students could create a digital story based on the roles of the organelles, but played by characters or, objects in their everyday life this would promote not only their retention of the material, but also their understanding.

When I went to visit my PSIII school, one of the teachers expressed interest in attempting to flip the classroom for various topics in the chemistry unit of SCI 10. I certainly see the benefits of flipping the classroom, but if it is done incorrectly I think it will provide a disservice to the students learning. In order for a flipped classroom to run effectively students need to understand it’s benefits to their learning. Generally, we are over simplifying the process of the flipped classroom. Sams (2011) argues there is no such thing as a flipped classroom. Sams agrees with Fulton (2012) that, in a nutshell, the flipped classroom is the idea that work, which was done at school is now done at home and the “homework” is now done at school. However, he argues that this is far too simplistic and that there are many models of the flip class that can be used. In my PSIII I plan to work with my colleague to flip certain components of the chemistry unit, but I will be careful to ensure it is being done effectively to promote student learning. For this reason, I will be doing my project for ED4764 on Flipping the Science 10 Classroom.

My biggest reservation with the flipped classroom is falling into the trap of giving students a “lecture” to watch at home and then giving them work time in school. I really do not feel that this is an effective use of anyone’s time. On any given day in my face-to-face classroom the students are engaged in kinesthetic activities to help them connect with the concepts being taught; I have seen real learning with these activities and would never want to lose them to a flipped classroom environment. If I could have students come into class with an understanding of the concepts, so that we could engage in activities to help deepen and solidify their understanding along with time for them to work on practice questions, I could jump on board.

Lichter (2012) conducted an interesting study in an introductory university chemistry course that can be paralleled to the high school chemistry classroom. Many teachers struggle with connecting concepts to technology and maintaining student interest. Students were challenged to create and upload a video to YouTube that could be used by others to learn solubility rules. This is brilliant application of technology; if a student can teach others the material they have reached the synthesis level of Blooms Taxonomy. It can be taken one step further having students in the class peer-assess each other’s projects, which allows the students in the class to reach the top of Blooms Taxonomy, evaluation. YouTube can also be used in conjunction with the student’s blogs. Once they have made their project they can post them on their blog with a reflection, facilitating the students learning towards self-actualization and mastery.

I think this is a great spinoff to the flipped classroom, where students are teaching their peers about concepts through the use of video. This is almost like a virtual jigsaw with class time being devoted to the making of the videos as well as after discussion between students to ensure that everyone has a solid grasp on the concept.

Another publishing tool I could make effective use of in my classroom is podcasts. I logged into iTunes and found the “60-Second Science” podcast (Scientific American, n.d.). As their title says, they are 60-second podcasts about science. Due to their brief nature, these could be played at the beginning of class to spark discussion. I feel students would respond well to the use of podcasts as they are brief and provoke discussion. Students are not interested in listening to someone talk about science for an extended period of time. The other benefit of podcasts is that they are free and can easily be downloaded by students at home, which would allow them to listen to the podcast before class and come prepared to discuss the topic with their peers. Before this module I would have never thought to explore the use of podcasts in the classroom, but now I can see them as a simple way to spark dialogue between students in the classroom and promote learning.


Benner, D., & Guhlin, M. (n.d.). Digital storytelling lesson. Retrieved on July 13, 2013 from https://sites.google.com/site/digitizeww/digital-storytelling-lesson

Fulton, K. (2012). Upside down and inside out: Flip your classroom to improve student learning. Learning and Leading with Technology, 39(8), 12-14.

Iwancio, P. (2010). 7 Elements in 4 Minutes. Retrieved on July 13, 2013 from http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=NipDAd3_7Do#at=38

Lichter, J. (2012). Using YouTube as a platform for teaching and learning solubility rules. Journal Of Chemical Education, 89(9), 1133-1137.

Sams, A. (2011). There is no such thing as the flipped class. Retrieved on July 13, 2013 from http://chemicalsams.blogspot.ca/2011/10/there-is-no-such-thing-as-flipped-class.html

Scientific American. (n.d.). 60-second science. Retrieved on July 13, 2013 from http://www.scientificamerican.com/podcast/podcasts.cfm?type=60-second-science

University of Houston Education. (2013). Education uses for digital storytelling. Retrieved on July 13, 2013 from http://digitalstorytelling.coe.uh.edu/index.cfm

Significant Comments:




2 thoughts on “Pencil, Paper and a Whiteboard is No Longer the Status Quo

  1. Hey Justin,

    Since you mentioned you had similar reservations about some elements of this topic I figured I would check out what issues you had. You had some very relevant comments, particularly about the flipped classroom. What I was trying to communicate on my blog (but didn’t do so well) was that flipping a classroom seems more of an online class with tutorial support. At least that is the impression that comes across to me. I can definitely see the implications on student learning if it is done ineffectively. In response to your query, I think having a flipped lab would work amazingly well. I know we have discussed at length the time investment needed to prepare students for a lab. Why not flip it and give students the time in class needed to actually perform the experiment rather than spend 75% of the time demonstrating appropriate practices and procedures. The downfall to this, as with an entire flipped classroom, is that there will be many students who don’t watch the videos and are ill prepared for the next day. Great read!

    Best Regards,

    1. Hi Dan,

      Thanks for the comment. I love your idea about using the flipped classroom concept for lab prep! I wonder if it is possible to have students write a brief online quiz (could use a tool like Socrative) to ensure their understanding. This way we can know that they are prepared. This quiz grade can also be added to their grade for the lab. I found with labs that with the prep and actual performance took the entire class (as you stated), but if we were able to take that 20 minutes (or more) of prep time and place it at the end of the lab to engage students in discussion their learning could be drastically elevated! My apprehension falls in the lack of questions that could be asked by students with this method. The video would have to be unbelievably clear, or there would have to be a medium for students to ask questions the night before – perhaps this is what the class blog could be used for. If the video was placed on the blog, all questions could be placed in the comment section and responded to by the teacher or other students who feel confident in their ability to answer the question. Even with using the flipped classroom, there will always need to be a bit of lab prep in class to ensure students understanding and success; however, I love the idea of using the flipped classroom to save time and allow students to engage fully in the lab work to enhance their learning!


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