Integrating Technology Across the Curriculum: Middle School Mathematics

Teacher Bloggers  |  By Meghan Hann and K. Elise Hoeppner

Welcome! We are glad you came! We are middle school mathematics teachers located on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, working for RCOA, an online and blended independent school. We are excited to share with you how our teaching has been enhanced by the use of Piktochart in our middle school mathematics planning and teaching, specifically in the area of Statistics. Bates (2005) encourages educators to not only be concerned with reaching the learning outcome of comprehension, but also that of application,evaluationand analyzing. Our focus is to equip our students to be able to apply math into their lives as well as honouring the four big learning outcomes mandated by the BC Ministry of Education.

In this conversation, we are going to highlight this one specific technology platform that we utilized successfully. We will discuss how this platform supports the Community of Inquiry, as well as the phases of integration, both strengths and needed improvements, in addition to providing a sample lesson plan.

Knowing that in a class, multiple learning styles are present, it is an accepted challenge of educators to support each individual. It is nearly impossible for one technology to meet this requirement. Therefore, it is key in teaching to provide students with choice, scaffolding, and opportunity to showcase concept understanding, competencies and skills through utilizing a selected technology. In this past year, this technology choice ranged from paper and pencil, Excel, PowerPoint and Piktochart. This is our experience introducing the newest technology, Piktochart, as an option to our classes.

Come along and journey beside us as we share our perspectives and experiences with you, as blended and online middle school mathematics teachers who are utilizing the Piktochart program, that can be useful for your teaching, learning, and research.

~Meghan & Elise

Part One: The Importance of Technology Integration

There is a direct link between the use of technology and different ideologies of teaching and learning. The effectiveness of a technology cannot be judged without making some basic assumptions about what constitutes effective teaching and learning, and the goals and purposes of education and training.

                 ~ (Bates, 2005, p. 4)              

Community of Inquiry

Central to successful online and blended learning is the theory from Garrison, Anderson and Archer (2000) the Community of Inquiry, that provides a framework for teachers, which incorporates socialcognitive and teaching presences. The research in this area provides practical pedagogy to guide the instructor in methods to create opportunities for rich discussions, critical thinking, and opportunities for reflection. The goal of educators is to support student learning. Working with online and blended courses requires specific approaches that the Community of Inquiry has proven to be successful. Specifically applying the three different presences through technological mediums is a unique aspect of distance learning. The three presences of the Community of Inquiry include: 

Cognitive Presence is the extent to which learners are able to construct and confirm meaning through sustained reflection and discourse (Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 2001).

Social Presence is “the ability of participants to identify with the community (e.g., course of study), communicate purposefully in a trusting environment, and develop interpersonal relationships by way of projecting their individual personalities.” (Garrison, 2009)

Teaching Presence is the design, facilitation, and direction of cognitive and social processes for the purpose of realizing personally meaningful and educationally worthwhile learning outcomes (Anderson, Rourke, Garrison, & Archer, 2001).

 Garrison 2000


Most technologies, if skillfully employed, are sufficiently robust to meet a wide range of educational needs and achieve a wide variety of desirable outcomes.

~ (Garrison, 2000, p.92)


Cognitive Presence
Learning Styles

I know my child is a global- spatial-social-reflective-kinesthetic- sanguine-abstract-melancholy-left-brained platypus. I just don’t know what to do with it.

~ (Barnier, 2009, p.14)

 Cognitive presence includes the facets of neuroscience and learning. We appreciate the humour in the above quote by Barnier as it highlights the multiple intelligences from Gardner (1983), which acknowledges that our students do not come to us in a ‘one-size-fits-all’ mold.

"multiple intelligences test results"by ~C4Chaosis licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
“Multiple intelligences test results” by ~C4Chaosis licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Technology and distance learning are natural allies, because both potentially permit modification of the environment and learning experiences to better accommodate individual needs and preferences of users.

~ (Fayh, 2013, p. 4)

Our goal is to meet and address the different learning styles of our students. We are moving away from zero choice/paper-pencil tests to greater choice, which includes integration of technology, not for the sake of using technology for technology’s sake (Rice, 2012), but because we believe that many learners can show an application and evaluation of their comprehension through a different medium than the ones traditionally and historically prescribed. When we assess using only print materials it can be “difficult for students to impose their own order or structure on the subject matter, or to restructure it for themselves” in order to showcase their understanding (Bates, 2005, p. 102).

We have found that students who consistently score in the top 20% of the class, function well with teacher directed assignments. The students that have mediocre scores on traditional assignments and tests have proven their understanding and competencies when allowed choice in selecting a type of technology that addresses their unique learning style. Piktochart offers presentation reports, options for collaboration, social media graphics, posters and infographics. All of these stunning display choices come with Piktochart’s free subscription.


The science of learning and brain anatomy have implications in the field of education. Our objective of creating long term memory through attention, rehearsal and retrieval, and integration to create new understanding can be successfully accomplished with proper technology. “Garrison (1990) asserts that it is the activities of sharing, application, and critical analysis by the learner, in conjunction with a teacherand content, that converts information to knowledge (pp. 13-14)” (Fahy, 2013, p. 6).

Schunk (2020) adds that “novelty attracts attention; the brain tends to focus on inputs that are novel or different from what might be expected. Another factor is intensity; stimuli that are louder, brighter, or more pronounced get more attention” (p. 45). Carefully selected technology, that addresses the above neuroscience research, creates novelty, and thus garners attention, which makes long-term memory more likely. Piktochart encompasses the novelty and various stimuli in both their training demonstrations, as well as in the options for the projects.


Part Two: Implementation of Piktochart in our Math 9 Statistics Unit

Teaching Presence

Teachers must decide how to better use technology to illustrate the relationship between learning psychology, learning content, and teaching method, and then decide which technology can better achieve these goals.      

 ~ (Huang, 2017, p. 2046)

In choosing a technology to support our Statistics Math 9 learning outcomes, we decided to introduce Piktochart to our class. We are excited to share our process that included the identification of goals, future improvements and a practical example of implementation through a sample lesson.

Identification of Goals

Bates (2005) identifies that technology “provides educators and governments with the capacity to transform radically our whole education system and nowhere is this truer than in the area of flexible and distance learning” (p. 2). The BC Ministry of Education requires students in Mathematics 9 to analyze the validity, reliability, and representation of data to enable comparison and interpretation of statistics in society. Students are to demonstrate the use of tools or technology to explore and create patterns and relationships, and to test conjectures. They are expected to model mathematics in contextualized experiences, communicate mathematical thinking in a variety of ways, as well as represent mathematical ideas in concrete, pictorial, and symbolic forms. We found that Piktochart gave the students the ability to demonstrate both content and competencies required by the Ministry of Education in unique and creative ways.

Figure 1: Identification of BC Ministry of Education Learning Outcomes for the Math 9 Statistics Unit

BIG Idea: Analyzing the validity, reliability, and representation of data enables us to compare and interpret. Content Learning Outcomes:

-BI: analyzing the validity, reliability, and representation of data enables us to compare and interpret

C: statistics in society

Competencies: Specific Goals & Learning Outcomes
Understanding & Solving -apply multiple strategies to solve problems in both abstract and contextualized situations

-develop, demonstrate and apply mathematical understanding through play, inquiry and problem solving

Reasoning & Analyzing -model mathematics in contextualized experiences

-use logic and patterns

-use reasoning and logic to explore, analyze, and apply mathematical ideas

-use tools or technology to explore and create patterns and relationships and test conjectures

Communicating & Representing -communicate mathematical thinking in many ways

-explain and justify mathematical ideas and decisions

-represent mathematical ideas in concrete, pictorial, and symbolic forms

-use mathematical vocabulary and language to contribute to mathematical discussions

Connecting & Reflecting -connect mathematical concepts to each other and to other areas and personal interests

-reflect on mathematical thinking

-use mathematical arguments to support personal choices

Social Presence


Piktochart fostered collaboration and development of social presence within our classes by developing students’ ability for clear communication and building of relationships. Communication was developed through utilizing Piktochart to share research on their area of interest. This educational technological platform opened up discussion, instruction and team-building opportunities as all students were new to its application. When students presented their Piktochart, relationships were strengthened as they gained more understanding of their peers’ areas of passions and interests.

Needed Improvements

Our learning from this past year has encouraged us to further develop our teaching. Having experienced the students interacting with Piktochart, we will set them up for success with a few key experiences prior to their independent project. The Piktochart platform can be overwhelming and intimidating to those students who have not utilized a digital platform for graphing and display.

In the future:

  • We hope to personally walk through the Piktochart platform, allowing students to ask questions of instructor in a synchronized class environment.
  • Allow students to create a Piktochart in teams prior to completing a project individually.
  • Students from our previous year would be team leaders to provide peer support.
  • We hope to include a peer assessment for the individual Piktochart presentation (i.e., “Two stars and Wish” = two points of praise and one idea for improvement).

Research has found that virtual manipulatives have a positive impact on both attitudes toward mathematics and student achievement.

~ (Roblyer, 2016, p. 313)


Web learning activities should be designed to promote collaborative knowledge creation models and what competencies students need to develop in order to be able to participate fully in collaborate creation activities.

~ (Pifarre et. al., 2014, p. 72)

Piktochart embraced the three presences of the Community of Inquiry, which led to a successful learning opportunity for our students. Providing learners with choice, rich and interactive visuals, and wonderful demonstrations, our students were able to construct and build understanding of statistics and displays. Piktochart allowed us to act as mentors and facilitators of learning, instead of acting as lecturers of information (Boiling et. al., 2012). This shift increased student engagement, collaboration and reflection. The statistics unit gave students autonomy, and a taste of real-life application, in a positive, student-centered and meaningful way. Overall, the integration of this specific educational technological platform to our teaching had encouraging impacts on both teacher and learner.

“Graph”by Alice Bartlettis licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Stay tuned for our methods of assessment in a future blog! Included below for your use are links to a sample lesson and student examples. Thank you for taking time to journey with us through our implementation of Piktochart in our Statistics Math 9 unit. We hope this equips you with additional pedagogical insight, as well as practical skills for your practice!

Sample Lesson Plan: Math 9 Statistics Project Using Piktocharts

Piktochart Student Samples(Shared with permission)


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Bates, A. W. (2005). Technology, E-Learning and Distance Education. London: Routledge.

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Fahy, P. (2013). Common impacts of technology on education: Week 1 Study Guide. In C. Blomgren (Ed.).BOLT 677: Digital Tools for Change (pp.13-14). Athabasca, AB: Athabasca University. Retrieved from

Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (2000). Critical inquiry in a text-based environment: Computer conferencing in higher education model. The Internet and Higher Education, 2(2-3), 87-105.

Huang, Z. (2017) Theoretical Analysis of TPACK Knowledge Structure of Mathematics Teachers Based on T-TPACK Mode. (2018). Educational Sciences: Theory & Practice, 18(5), 2044-2053.

Pifarré, M., Guijosa, A., & Argelagó S. E. (2014).Using a blog to create and support a Community of Inquiry in secondary education. E-Learning and Digital Media, 11(1), 72.

Rice, K. (2012). Making the move to K-12 online teaching: research-based strategies and practices. Pearson.

Roblyer, M. D. (2016). Integrating educational technology into teaching. Boston: Pearson

Schunk, D. H. (2020). Learning theories: An educational perspective. Boston: Pearson.

About the Contributors

Meghan Hann 
is currently working towards completion of a Masters of Education in Distance Education through Athabasca University. Graduated from the University of Victoria in 2002 with a Bachelor of Arts- with a double major in history and psychology.  She then completed the Post Degree Professional Program (PDPP)  gaining her Professional Teaching Certificate in 2003. Having worked in both public and private campus schools teaching everything from K to Chemistry 12! Currently, Meghan is teaching high school grade 8 and 9 classes, in both face to face and online learning environments, on Vancouver Island, BC.

Elise Hoeppner is a part-time graduate student completing her Masters of Education in Distance Education through Athabasca University. In 2001, she graduated from the University of Victoria with a Bachelor of Science (major in mathematics) and completed her Professional Teaching Certificate in 2002. She has worked in both public and private campus schools teaching math, dance and musical theatre. Currently, Elise is teaching high school mathematics (both online and face-to-face) for Regent Christian Online Academy in Victoria, BC.


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Except otherwise noted, this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Caution! Shallow water ahead – diving is not encouraged

Guest Blogger  |  By Darlene Burningham

Acrylic painting "At the Edge" by Darlene Burningham © 2018
Acrylic painting “At the Edge” by Darlene Burningham © 2018

One of the greatest dangers we face as we automate the work of our minds, as we cede control of the flow of our thoughts and memories to a powerful electronic system, is … a slow erosion of our humanness and our humanity (Carr, 2011, 220).

Many of us have heard the increasing warnings about addiction to technology and especially to cellphones.  We may have also heard the advice to disconnect every once in a while and, while we know it to be sound, we might wonder if it is even possible to take a step back from where we are.  The feeling of anxiety about forgetting for a moment where your phone is may come to mind. For educators, it may prompt visions of looking out across the stormy seas of the classroom and seeing eyes cast down toward a device in every seat.

As an educator, I want to know what the effects of all this technology and instant access are – because the way that I used to teach became obsolete around the same time that I became good at it, which also occurred around the same time that hand held devices became ubiquitous.  Enter Nicholas Carr (2011) with The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains.

Carr’s poignant title highlights his main thesis that through increased dependency on screen time, our brains are forced to linger in the shallow waters of the internet, only skimming the potential of that vast informational ocean.

Those familiar with Marshall McLuhan will recognize Carr as the contemporary reincarnation of that visionary theorist.  I say this because just as McLuhan’s writings warned us about how new technologies could change the way we view the world around us, Carr has taken it a step further and is prophesizing how the technologies we are creating at break-neck speeds will not only affect our worldviews but will fundamentally change the structure of the natural tool we have to formulate and understand those worldviews: our brain.  Quite frankly, this book is scary because some of us, especially as parents and teachers, may wonder whether those changes may be regretfully irreversible.  But it is also an important read because we may be on the brink of a new way of thinking and learning.

Key to Carr’s thesis is that daily use of the internet is being proven to change the way our brains are wired.  In essence, we are trading skills that have been developed and cherished through the private and solitary effort of reading text in a linear and focused fashion for those that are fed by a steady diet of skim and scan.  We are losing the ability to take in information at a slow pace, which lets us think deeply and critically and encode knowledge into long-term memory.  In exchange, we are developing stronger skills in scanning and recognizing visual information and patterns in bits.  However, being able to skim and scan and click on hyperlinks that lead us to more information, while seemingly useful, also distracts us from the task at hand, resulting in fractured attention. The set of skills that we are losing allowed us time and space to be reflective and the set we are gaining fragments our attention and interferes with contemplation, even though it gives us access to much more information than we have ever had. The result affects deep comprehension, encoding and critical thinking about what we learn. As Carr states, we are on the verge of becoming “mindless consumers of data” (p. 125).

 The structure of the book provides us with good background. Carr first discusses the malleability of the brain and presents the history of the argument regarding nature and nurture. He then discusses how the process of reading and writing were initially unnatural acts and that distraction may actually be a natural process. He then explores how technological changes, such as the Gutenberg press and the printing of books, changed how we interacted and processed information.  This led to reading becoming a more practiced and prized skill and also led us to develop a more private relationship with information.  With further changes brought about by the information and technological ages, the overstimulation and fragmentation that characterizes the internet has led us away from this relationship.  When we read on-screen there are hyperlinks, running bands of text, and flashing click-bait to draw us away from the main body of text.  This is changing our brains.  Carr cites many studies that range from brain science to social sciences to support his claims and I found many of them interesting in terms of my observations as an educator over the past decade or so.

However, this book also made me question whether we can or even should fight the changes Carr warns us of.  The technology of books (as archaic as it now seems) wrought changes that were seen as dangerous.  Socrates, as Carr cites felt that “a dependence on the technology of the alphabet [would] alter a person’s mind, and not for the better” (p. 55).  As history has proven, we eventually adapted to the alphabet and even came to prize it.  Who is to say whether or not we are just on the cusp of another such change and our efforts in teaching and learning must now focus on how to best use not only the new technologies but the new brains.

Essentially, Carr is asking that we consider what will be lost if we give ourselves over completely to continued treading of shallow waters of the net. I would say that based on the changes I’ve seen over the 20 years I’ve been teaching, we are already there and are most likely not able to go back.  Thus, we will have to choose how we move forward. From an educational perspective, this raises a lot of questions about how and what we continue to teach and how the system we do it in is structured. Do we embrace whole-heartedly the changes in the brain and completely revamp our teaching and learning strategies, or do we find a way to re-instate and hold onto the quietness and calm of the mind that dove into the printed text?

There are no answers as of yet but the conversation has started and there is still hope that we won’t drown in shallow waters.


Carr, N. (2010). The shallows: What the Internet is doing to our brains. NewYork: W. W. Norton. (2011 Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction finalist)

About the Contributor

Darlene Burningham ( has been teaching high school for almost 20 years.  She is currently living in Eastern Ontario and teaching at a small rural high school. She began the MAIS degree at Athabasca in 2014 and is now working on the capstone course.  Her final project intends to investigate the relationships between technology, innovation and student motivation.  Outside of teaching, her passions include acrylic painting and cooking.  When she is not able to travel she dreams about it, especially about going to places that have the sun and the ocean.

Creative Commons License
Except otherwise noted, this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.