Collaborative Teacher Inquiry into 21st-Century Learning

Area(s) of Focus: technology
Division(s): Primary, Junior
Level(s): Grade 1, Grade 2, Grade 3, Grade 4, Grade 5, Grade 6

We have begun to move towards a more digital/technologically based style of learning, teaching and communicating.

Through the collaborative inquiry model, teachers would work together to explore technology integration in a school setting. We developed a theory of action based on our inquiry question and worked together to gather and analyze data.  Throughout the inquiry, teachers had the opportunity to participate in job-embedded learning through co-teaching and demonstration classrooms. We determined the impact of effective technology integration on student achievement and engagement. We shared our findings with colleagues on staff and at other schools within our FOS using an online forum (Academic Workspace).

Team Members

  • Catherine Van Kruistum


  • Zachary Kerekes


  • Jakop Smintich


  • Andrew Downey


Team Photo

Group members hard at work.

Professional Learning Goals

We will move towards a more digital/technologically based style of learning, teaching and communicating.

Activities and Resources

The group participated in a workshop led by the Digital Lead Learners for our Family of Schools. The workshop was on Google Apps and allowed all group members the opportunity to work with different apps (e.g., creating and sharing a doc in Google Drive; creating and sharing presentations; creating and sharing spreadsheets; creating and sharing a form, etc.) that can be used in our daily teaching practice.

The group worked with iPads to find and install apps for all grade levels. These apps were for different curriculum areas, but also had a focus on our IB units of inquiry. We installed and worked with Google Drive on the iPads. Some members of the group worked with Desire2Learn. The goal was to create a more paperless and efficient means of communicating with parents and students. One teacher attempted to have a co-teaching experience/classroom observation with one of the Digital Lead Learners but, due to unforeseen circumstances, this fell through. However, this teacher did go to a workshop on Lego We-Do with other teachers in the Family of Schools.

Some members of the group worked with Nearpod. We participated in a half-day workshop with an Apple employee who taught us the ins and outs of the app. This was used mainly with our Grade 6 class to create presentations for their IB Exhibition project.

Some members of the group worked with Book Creator. We participated in a half-day workshop with an Apple employee who provided teaching and various samples of the app.

Some members worked with Glogster. They incorporated this into their daily teaching with the ELL learners at our school.

All of these activities were incorporated into our daily practice.

Unexpected Challenges

One challenge that we had was finding the time when all group members were able to meet and explore the apps and programs that we had an interest in learning. As some of the members of the groups were classroom teachers and others were not, it was sometimes difficult to work around the various schedules.

Our learning was further challenged by the daily constraints of teaching while trying to learn and then incorporate this learning into our daily practice. We found that we often did not have enough time in our “working sessions” to master an app or program so needed to find other time to keep working on it. Then we had to attempt to use the app or program with our students or to communicate with our parents all while not being 100% comfortable or familiar with the technology.

Another challenge was the technology itself. We were often left waiting for iPads to connect to Wi-Fi, waiting for programs and apps to download, or waiting for clear instruction on how to use an app or program. This was extremely frustrating and a waste of valuable time. Further, for some of us who do not have regular access to the technology (iPads, Smart Boards, etc.), it was difficult to become comfortable with, and proficient using, the equipment.

Enhancing Student Learning and Development

Our project has enabled us the time to become more knowledgeable and comfortable with aspects of technology that can be used to enhance our teaching practice. By having the time to learn about and explore these apps and programs, we can now incorporate them into our daily teaching practice. The use of technology has been proven to increase student engagement and, therefore, learning. We have already seen that this is true in the work that the students have created using the apps and programs that we incorporated into their learning. Students were on task, engaged and excited to work on their assignments.

Through the use of programs like Desire2Learn, the students were able to become more responsible for their learning. They could take ownership of their learning, while the teacher (and their parents) could still monitor their work.


In terms of sharing with other teachers, we have created a list of apps that we have found useful. This list has been posted on our school’s AW site so that all teachers can have quick and easy access to the information. Further, we have downloaded the apps onto the iPads and folders have been created either by grade level or subject area. We have found this to be a more efficient means of sharing as teachers (and students) will have the apps at their fingertips and can begin to use and explore these apps immediately.

The use of other programs, such as Desire2Learn, Glogster and Nearpod, can be shared at divisional IB professional development sessions at our school. Teachers meet regularly for a half day for IB planning and sharing. Part of the sharing can be an introduction to the programs and then a viewing of the student creations that had resulted from our learning and subsequent teaching. We will also look at more co-teaching within our school to share our learning with other staff members.

Students have also been taught the programs through sessions with the IB Coordinator/Teacher-Librarian, ELL teacher and technology teacher during regularly scheduled classes. The classroom teachers involved with the project used daily classroom time to share with their students the programs/apps that they had been learning about. One of the classes even shared their learning with the school by using Book Creator to create books for their IB Assembly.

Project Evaluation

We believe that our project was a success in that we met our goal of “moving towards a more digital/technologically based style of learning, teaching and communicating.” We are now more comfortable with using iPads in our daily learning and teaching. We are fortunate that classroom teachers have iPads and specialist teachers can reserve iPads when needed/wanted so that our learning can continue. Many of the team members now automatically use their iPads for planning, communicating and learning. The classroom teachers on the team use the iPads to share student work with families using Dropbox and Google Docs.

As one teacher stated, “I have made an effort to diversify my teaching practice to include several technological tools such as the Smart Board, iPads, Desire2Lean, Google Docs, Lego WeDo, Twitter.  Through my Desire2Learn website, I have maintained day-to-day communication with students and parents regarding classroom and school events and classroom learning. My students are using Google Docs to create writing pieces and presentations that can be shared with his/her partners, classmates and teachers. This project has also provided the opportunity to connect with other teachers to share resources through Twitter and Google Classroom.”

The members of the group are more knowledgeable with what is out there and can be used to make our teaching more effective and engaging. We have discovered a whole world of technology that enhance student learning. Some of the technology we investigated, especially the Google apps, has opened up a new way for us to track student learning immediately and  to easily share this information with parents and other teachers as needed. We are no longer so tied to a paper-based system of recording student learning. We can comfortably and successfully use technology on a daily basis.

Resources Used

For sharing info:

  • Evernote (online with parents, make separate note/thread for each student)
  • Padlet (in class, quick sharing of idea on virtual Post-it note)

For Polls/surveys/answering in class:

  • Socrative
  • Google Forms
  • Plicker

For math:

  • Khan Academy
  • Prodigy
  • Osmo (requires device purchase)


  • Toontastic (students make their own story with story arch – intro, setting, climax, conclusion)
  • Scratch (for creating animation)
  • Tumblebooks (books read aloud online)
  • Tellagami (create animation)
  • Bitstrips (create comics)
  • Book Creator

Screencasting – sharing videos of computer screen through process

For presentations