This week we took a look at a few different frameworks that help us evaluate technology integration and support teachers to better understand how technology can enhance learning. As a technology learning coach, this is my passion and something that I’m constantly thinking, rethinking and reflecting on. I want to take this blog post to reflect on how I’m approaching an upcoming technology-rich unit with our grade 2 students. 

I’ve decided not to focus on developing the lesson plan, but instead think about an inquiry and how that aligns to The Technology Integration Matrix

Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash

Grade 2 – Weather

Last year I spent quite some time working with our elementary teachers on computational thinking.

Computational thinking is “a way of solving problems, designing systems, and understanding human behavior that draws on concepts fundamental to computer science… a fundamental skill for everyone, not just computer scientists.”

Wing, J. M. (2006). Computational thinking. Communications of the ACM, 49(3), 33-35.
Copyright Harvard University

It was a slow start, but our main objective was to help teachers understand why we should encourage computational thinking and what that might look like in the elementary classroom. Teachers were asked to experiment with computational thinking themselves – we started them off with the phone book challenge “Finding Mike Smith” that we borrowed from Harvard’s CS50 (if you are unfamiliar with this course, check it out. You can enroll for free on edX). Stumbling through the phone book challenge helped them understand the computational thinking problem solving process and helped the teachers draw connections to what they are already teaching. 

After numerous conversations on what computational thinking might look like in our classrooms, I walked away with some great places to start. One of those was our grade 2 How the World Works unit of inquiry. Their central idea is relationships between air, water, heat and land influence weather. 

The tech inquiry

How can working with temperature and pressure in a micro:bit help us understand weather? 

Our students aren’t new to block-based programming, but don’t have much experience with the micro:bit controller. I’m after a way in which the micro:bit controller enhance their inquiry and help to develop a better understanding of what influences weather. All while making it accessible to a grade 2 learner. 

We have a class set of micro:bit and I’ve added in a few SparkFun gator:bits and SparkFun gator:environment accessory board. This accessory board will allow students to inquiry into atmospheric pressure as well as temperature. 

Looking through the lens of The Technology Integration Matrix

I’m very specific in using the term inquiry. I don’t plan to run a step-by-step lesson to show students how to find and display temperature or pressure. I don’t want to steal their inquiry. However, the students are new to micro:bits, so there will need to be some facilitation and support. My vision is to work with small groups and directly support connecting to the device, but then allowing some time for investigation with this guiding questions:

  • What can a micro:bit tell us about the air around us?
  • How can we share the information the micro:bit computes?
  • What can we use this data (information) for?

Looking at The Technology Integration Matrix, I see a lot of adaptation in this inquiry. There is still a lot of support and facilitation, but married with independent inquiry. While the micro:bit is the same, the way they can use the technology is varied based on the student’s individual investigation. 

I’m excited to see what this inquiry looks like to a grade 2 student and what perspectives they will bring. I’m also encouraged by the connections they will be able to draw from what the micro:bit can help us find out and what their other inquiries into weather have taught them. 

I’m also excited to see how the students can construct learning from the use of this technology. Can they connect atmospheric pressure to what the weather looks like? Can they code the micro:bit to tell us if the pressure is H or L without confusing numbers? How can the micro:bit support computational thinking and not just be a replacement for a traditional thermometer?  

I’m meeting with our grade 2 team next week and look forward to sharing my ideas with them and sharing the inquiry on this blog. Stay tuned 🙂