Engaging Learners Through Technology in the Classroom

Area(s) of Focus: technology
Division(s): Senior
Level(s): Grade 9, Grade 10, Grade 11, Grade 12
Keyword(s): engagement, ipad, technology

Our overall goal is to enhance student engagement by becoming teacher leaders within the school in the area of using technology to improve learning.

Our school had recently been given access to 20 iPads for student use. We had been given time and access to professional development so that we could learn a variety of ways that we could implement the use of these iPads into our classrooms. We hoped that by attending the “Bring IT Together” conference being put on by the Educational Computing Organization of Ontario, in conjunction with opportunities offered by SCDSB, that we as a team could learn different ways to engage our students by using the iPads. This conference had many different workshops that gave us first-hand experience that we would not otherwise gain.  This is part of a cycle of co-learning/co-teaching that we are engaging in through the PLC. After using different iPad applications, we met to discuss our findings and share best practices. We also went back to our various departments (Canadian and world studies, social science, art and English) and co-teach with our colleagues. Our overall goal was to enhance student engagement by becoming teacher leaders within the school in the area of using technology to improve learning.

Team Members

  • Sarah McLeod


  • Jennifer Mansfield-Oehm


  • Sonya Hayes


  • Blair Lesage


  • Sarah Adams


Professional Learning Goals

  • instantaneous ability to record and project performances for on-demand self and peer evaluations
  • to better understand the applications students will be using in class while having the school iPads booked out (ability to practise at home)
  • to improve methods of documenting and sharing student learning and for assessment
  • integrating technology into my classroom
  • engaging students through technology
  • using hands-on tools to meet students’ learning needs
  • allowing students to express their knowledge in a variety of forms that best suit their interests and learning needs
  • to give students more autonomy to direct their own learning
  • continued focus on descriptive feedback and making descriptive feedback accessible at any time, and interactive through Google Drive or class website
  • save money on raw materials in the early stages of a project by having the student demonstrate skills using the iPads instead of clay, paint, etc.
  • to struggle and strive to add new technology to classrooms by challenging self-knowledge and comfort zone to lead by example so if the students see the teacher trying to learn a new skill, perhaps they will shake off the reluctance to try themselves

Activities and Resources

  • Green Screen Movie Making – used to make 1920s videos with history and in geography classes to make tourism videos – used to air drop the videos they made and to assist in facilitating cutting of their final projects used with adaptor to project their videos directly from the iPad – self and peer evaluations
  • Dance – used to record dance performances then project them directly from iPad for whole class to view and give self and peer feedback – used by students in small groups to record performances and do self and peer feedback
  • Remind app – used for ongoing communication with students using the Remind app
  • Document Student Learning/Activities – used to document student learning – process work, collaboration in class – used to showcase learning as it happens in the classroom then shared on social media (NPSS Dance Twitter)
  • photographed each student’s artworks, then used a variety of apps to record assessment audio over the image while writing/drawing on digital image as well during critique
  • allowed the instructor to photograph or video an artwork or process and share with the class through the projector in real time. This was done with a visiting artist and with in class demonstrations. Missed lessons and demonstrations are then accessible to all absent students and for review/study.
  • video students working as curators when constructing exhibitions
  • students allergic to clay or certain paints have enjoyed using the iPad apps to demonstrate expectations (Pottery Wheel, intaglio etching, mixing paint)
  • 3-D modelling
  • students have used social media apps such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to spread awareness about various social issues such as mental health and domestic violence
  • students have used Educreations and Prezi to create dynamic presentations and products
  • used Goose Chase app as a hook into one of units in parenting to generate student interest in topics related to early childhood development
  • access the Google Classroom app for interactive discussions, assignments and class notes
  • students have used iMovie to create various products for assignments such as a mental health awareness PSA
  • parenting class uses the BabyCenter app regularly to participate in web quests, conduct research and view the interactive videos on the app
  • parenting class has used the Allrecipes app to find healthy recipes appropriate for children for food labs
  • parenting class has used the Today’s Parent app to conduct research and find relevant and recent articles related to parenting
  • Intro to Anthropology, Psychology and Sociology class used the Devolve Me app to learn about evolution
  • use the iPad to bring the world of literature alive in Grade 9 academic English by creating QR codes that whisk students back to Shakespeare’s time as student watched the famous balcony scene, or practice belting out “Stella” a la Marlon Brando via YouTube. But it is not just videos and audio that entices the senses, students were able to create the wedding between Romeo and Juliet using a green screen app and edited short videos to demonstrate their learning.
  • iPad used during morning announcements to showcase a vast variety of music genres introducing the world of upbeat music to start the students’ day

Unexpected Challenges

  • at times our ideas exceeded supporting digital structures of website, video emailing, Wi-Fi, etc.
  • making sure the instructor updated websites and drives regularly and learned more about data transfer in general
  • gaining confidence in my own self using a new and different technology. The iPad’s operation system and style is clearly the way moving forward and to demonstrate a variety of uses, outside of Tumblr and Instagram, the students and our group engaged in producing actual merit in material instead of simply filling the Internet with more of the same. Simply, this iPad gave us confidence to teach and explore iPad apps while still maintaining a close tie to the curriculum.
  • wishing we had more time to play and experiment with more ways to utilize the iPad
  • accessibility – having one iPad was amazing, but having a larger number available for students in our classes would ensure all students had a chance to use the iPads

Enhancing Student Learning and Development

  • it helped engage students through technology
  • it allowed students to learn using hands-on tools
  • it allowed students to express their knowledge in a variety of forms that best suit their interests and learning needs
  • it gave students more autonomy to direct their own learning
  • Assessment AS Learning – performance feedback – gave students more opportunity to see themselves during performances and to set goals based on their observations on what they need to do to improve
  • student engagement – incorporating more technology engaged the students more in the topics that were being discussed in class – made learning more fun! (1920s pop culture)
  • the main measurable enhancement when the iPad(s) were introduced in the classroom was assessment. This technology has allowed for a steady stream of descriptive feedback for student work. This feedback is so important to the development of the divergent thinking mind. The assessment model in my class has changed and become more expedient and fluid, mirroring the immediacy of the students’ daily digital surroundings and interactions.
  • it is what they expect and know. We feel it is what we need to do to promote responsible and appropriate digital citizenship.
  • with the help of some amazing apps, art history reviews and gallery tours have become interactive and fun; studio apps allow students that are challenged by the studio portion of the course to not only meet expectations but to excel
  • the technology allows us to easily distill the main idea of the Arts; to express oneself and solve problems creatively
  • the students absolutely love it. The hands-on experience of new technologies but also the stable operating system gave the class a flow that was not slowed by slow or out-dated technology. The class was buzzing and humming at the speed of students rather than waiting for technology to load.


– We have already begun to share through Twitter and PD sessions and conferences. We will continue to share via PD sessions, lunch and learns, and staff meetings.

– We are all available to help our peers within the schools and in our school board.

– We are using social media to spread our willingness to share with others.

Project Evaluation

– We were highly successful in beginning to achieve our goal to engage learners through technology.

– Our next steps will be to continue to spend more time with the iPads and their various applications.

– We look forward to sharing our experiences with our colleagues and putting these new-found skills into our everyday practice.