Nurturing 21st Century Skills Through Inquiry and Technology

Division(s): Primary, Junior
Level(s): Grade 1, Grade 2, Grade 3, Grade 4, Grade 5

The goal of our project is to nurture 21st century skills through inquiry and technology. Teachers will be empowered to use technology and discover ways to maximize its potential for all learners.

How can we support student-led inquiry and teacher practice through the use of technology?  

Through their inquiries, students and teachers will unpack and explore 21st century global competencies such as problem-solving and critical thinking, innovation, collaboration, communication and global citizenship, as well as self-directed learning. These skills will support the inquiry process by allowing both teachers and students the opportunity to solve problems, take risks in thinking, make discoveries through research, participate in teams, and co-construct knowledge, meaning and content, as well as communicate using appropriate digital tools and engage in local, global and digital communities in a responsible, accountable and ethical manner, all while creating and maintaining a positive digital footprint. Teachers and students will be expected to participate in a model of shared leadership throughout this experience.

Team Members

  • Daniella Leko

    Toronto District School Board

  • Kelly Ortolan

    Toronto District School Board

  • Judy Ogaki

    Toronto District School Board

  • Sarah Devry-Tunell

    Toronto District School Board

Professional Learning Goals

  • Attended professional development about 21st century global competencies and shared their learning and built capacity among staff
  • Offered opportunities for staff to learn and share their knowledge of G Suite, Kahoot, Mindomo, Pear Deck, Screencastify, Scratch Jr., Dash & Dot coding, and Hour of Code through “Tech Tuesdays,” PA Days, staff meetings, PLCs and other informal meetings
  • Co-teaching and co-learning took place on a weekly basis
  • Offered differentiated instruction for teachers based on their initial comfort level and experience to integrate technology into their practice
  • Connected and learned from other educators by exploring and learning more about social media (i.e., Twitter)

Activities and Resources

  • Many teachers attended the board’s “Google Camp” and it served as a launching point for inspiring this learning journey. Teachers attended various workshops and were excited to share their learning with each other.
  • One Professional Development Day was dedicated to launching Google Classrooms for the whole staff
  • Chromebooks were purchased for all staff to become familiar with what the students are using daily
  • A system of sharing Chromebooks was created to facilitate greater equity and access for all students
  • “Tech Tuesdays” occurred during lunch hour each week to learn about new applications, and/or to address specific questions. It was also used as a forum for sharing and celebrating new aha moments among staff.
  • Dedicated weekly co-teaching sessions between the classroom teacher and the tech lead teacher improved the efficiency of teaching large groups of young children
  • Dedicated weekly PLC sessions further reinforced the skills and needs that came up in individual class settings. PLC sessions were also a time to reflect and document learning and experiences.
  • Teachers used a green screen and the Do Ink app to create a video to enter into the Student Film Festival “Planet in Focus”
  • Teachers used the Clips app to create a consolidation video to share at a Charter Education assembly
  • Teachers launched their own Twitter accounts to document and share the learning in their classrooms
  • Kahoot was used in each classroom as either an assessment before, during and after tool
  • Google Forms were used to create a survey for students
  • Google Classroom has become a regular classroom tool
  • Teachers and students used Mindomo as a mind mapping tool
  • Dash & Dot coding robots were used to practise coding skills and to enhance problem-solving skills

Unexpected Challenges

  • The opportunities to schedule time together remained a challenge, as each teacher has a tight schedule within a school day
  • The limited numbers of devices available caused a challenge to satisfy the needs for each classroom because, as teachers became more proficient, the demands for the devices became greater. Teachers share similar schedules (i.e., literacy blocks in the morning and devices were not readily available to all). Therefore, teachers needed to shift their schedules or not use the device.
  • Many professional development opportunities become available later on in the school year, which in of itself is a challenge for planning and implementing ideas effectively
  • As the the excitement and motivation for learning using technology spread throughout the school building, the kindergarten teachers became interested in learning how technology could also be part of their everyday program. This was not considered in our plan. We regret not including this integral part of our school.

Enhancing Student Learning and Development

  • The project allowed for students and teachers to have a greater understanding of digital citizenship and their digital footprint
  • Students became proficient in navigating G Suite to showcase their inquiry process
  • Students were given greater voice and choice in their learning
  • Students will continue to be able to connect to learning opportunities and experiences outside the walls of the classroom (make more global connections)


  • The project results have been shared within our own school during a “Reflect” session inviting feedback and reflection from everyone
  • Due to the remarkable support from our parent community, the results of our project were shared at a number of school council meetings
  • The project was also highlighted during Education Week when the community was invited to visit classrooms and see how technology is being integrated
  • The school’s Twitter account often tweeted various activities and sessions throughout the year
  • The board’s learning coach shared the project with the schools she mentors
  • The supportive principal shared the project during his meetings with his peers and the superintendent

Project Evaluation

  • Our project was definitely a success. Teachers engaged in professional development about 21st century global competencies, and shared their learning and built capacity among staff
  • Inquiry remained a focus during weekly co-teaching and co-learning sessions
  • The project was well-received by the parent council, and significant financial support was provided to continue the momentum in the school
  • The project gave the whole school an opportunity to learn, reflect and look forward with a clear vision for school planning in the 21st century for all students from kindergarten to Grade 5

Resources Used

Social LEADia: Moving Students from Digital Citizenship to Digital Leadership by Jennifer Casa-Todd!/

Resources Created

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