STEAM Job descriptions for Curriculum Planning




Using job descriptions can facilitate program planning and student learning. A job description provides us with rich opportunities to extract content areas, learning goals, success criteria, and rich tasks for learning. It just doesn’t matter if the position is paid or not, volunteer or mandatory. The point is that you will often find key information about skills that are important in our world today, and perhaps discover more relevant ways to teach those skills.

In my quest to make learning relevant for students, I have begun to look at job postings for S.T.E.A.M. related work, and think about ways that I can apply them to the curriculum. There are a great number of possibilities that crop up when we consider how our curriculum can be interpreted through the lens of a real job.

Consider the following job description in blue. As you review it, consider the cross-curricular, and integrated learning opportunities that may present themselves. Consider the project-based learning opportunities you can use to help students gain the necessary skills to apply for this job. Where do various technologies fit into this picture?

Check it out: 



Organization: Ministry of Transportation
Division: Provincial Highways Management
City: London
Job Term: 1 Permanent
Job Code: 12682 – Engineering Services Officer 3
$1,122.02 – $1,410.37 Per Week*
*Indicates the salary listed as per the OPSEU Collective Agreement.
Understanding the job ad – definitions

Posting Status:

Job ID:
Apply Online
View Job Description
Are you looking for a new challenge? Would you like to apply your knowledge of civil engineering technology and computer abilities in a new way?
Consider this opportunity in structural design while contributing to the safety of Ontario’s transportation system.

What can I expect to do in this role?

In this role you will:
• Prepare scale drawings depicting bridge details and materials for review and approval;
• Prepare associated contract documentation according to Ministry standards using required software;
Review bridge site plans and preliminary geometry information supplied by consultants;
• Carry out quantity calculations and cost estimates;
• Provide and assist in the training of regional staff in bridge inspections, in the use of computerized bridge detailing systems and bridge management systems;
• Provide interpretation of standards, specifications and policies as required;
• Assist in bridge inspections by carrying out inspection of simple structures, and updating and maintaining related databases;
• Provide technical guidance, training and advice to junior staff on bridge drafting and contract preparations, durability and construction issues with complex structural details and innovative techniques ensuring safety and economy;
• Answer queries on technical issues from other jurisdictions as required.

How do I qualify?

(aka learning goals and success criteria, criteria for rubrics and other assessment methods)

Knowledge of Bridge Design

• You have knowledge and skills in the design, detailing and contract preparation of provincial bridge contracts.
• You have knowledge and skills to be able to inspect bridges.
• You have knowledge in bridge design and detailing principles, and ability to consider various constraints such as materials, fabrication and production techniques.
• You have practical working knowledge of the varied and complex safety issues related to the design of bridges.

Communication Skills

• You have well-developed oral and written communication and presentation skills.
• You can use consultation skills to identify needs and maintain effective working relationships with regions and other functional teams
• You are committed to customer service.

Research and Project Planning Skills

• You can understand and interpret engineering plans and profiles, technical reports and relevant codes of practice.
• You have knowledge of project planning in order to design, detail, implement, lead and manage a number of concurrent projects of varying degrees complexity, individually or within a team environment.
• You have demonstrated analytical, planning, scheduling, project management and work coordination skills.

Computer Skills

• You can use computer systems and their applications, including Computer Aided Design (CAD) systems and database systems.

Now that you have had a chance to look at this, tell me you are not inspired by the sheer opportunities to connect science, math, technology and literacy? How many skills can be extracted and channeled into balanced literacy and math activities? How many rich tasks can be created? What projects and inquiries can be facilitated? How will they culminate into an end of unit(s) assessment task that includes applying for this job?
How can we help students figure out what they need to do next in order to ‘prove’ that they have the skills to apply?
What if my students were given a small bank of job descriptions, and they need to choose one that looks interesting that they will apply for.
Here are a few steps to consider:
1. Conduct your hypothetical job search
3. Teach the feedback skills that enable all students to engage in higher quality feedback and assessment as learning processes.
4. Find the Big Ideas
5. Plan your projects, centers, and assessment protocol.
6. Reflect
7. Share
Job searching can provide key information into the skills and knowledge that are important in our world. They can even help inform our curriculum planning and instructional design. Next time you are wondering how to infuse math, science, literacy and more into your short and long range plans, consider starting with a job search.
Deborah McCallum
c 2016

Feedback Matrix for Instructional Design

The art and science of giving feedback is complex. What may appear to be quite easy to give, while at the same time quite difficult to fit in a busy schedule- is actually a complex process that we need to involve learners in.

The following is a Feedback Matrix that I created to help educators consider the variables that go in to feedback processes with learners. These considerations will facilitate the design of your learning environment with learning tasks built on a strong foundation of using the #feedbackfriendly classroom as a pedagogy.

The variables considered are:

  • Teacher Variables
  • Student Variables
  • Subject
  • Context or Place
  • Learning Goals
  • Tasks to Reach Goals
  • Achievement

The Feedback Matrix by Deborah McCallum


This framework supports the idea that we can design our learning environments for Feedback Friendly Pedgagogies that are inclusive, collaborative, and support modern learners.

Please consider the chart as a guide for creating your own Feedback Friendly classroom

Deborah McCallum



Deborah McCallum

c 2016

Feedback & Inquiry Twitter Chat Part II

Twitter Chat:

Thursday March 31, @ 9:00 PM  #ontsshg

Link to our new Wonder-Wall Part II!





On Feb. 25, we had an amazing Twitter chat that centered around the interconnections between Feedback and Inquiry in the #ontsshg classroom. A big thanks to Louise Robitaille for inviting me to be the host of this amazing chat:)

Here is a Storify of the chat:

I had also created a Wonder-Wall for us to share questions, comments and other wonderings that you had about Inquiry and Feedback Processes. This is the link here:


The wonder wall was excellent. I think that largely due to the anonymity, we got a page full of valuable questions about feedback and inquiry based learning. I don’t think that we would have had these kinds of questions come up normally on twitter feeds. This Wonder-Wall really provided a place to be ‘vulnerable’, demonstrate a Growth Mindset, and not fear the very real questions that we take with us as teachers.

Also, I believe that when we allow our students to engage in this kind of ‘wondering’ activity, we get a sense of ‘where they are at’ in their understanding. Likewise, as educators, when we have these rare moments to ask anonymous questions, we can learn how to help each other move forward.

Hence, I did not forget about our shared wonder-wall after our last chat however– I am very passionate about Pedagogy, Inquiry, Feedback and Learning – so I stayed with it, compared it with our Storify, and created about 20 more questions that grew out of your own questions and wonderings. Unfortunately, I cannot address all of the questions in our next Twitter chat on Thursday March 31 at 9:00 PM – But I will add them as an addendum to this blog post, and our new Wonder-Wall.

My hope is that this is also a way for us to truly collaborate and work together to propel our learning forward on our journeys with Inquiry and Feedback – particularly as it pertains to the Social Studies, History, and Geography Classroom. Our next Twitter chat is Thursday March 31, 9PM #ontsshg


Here is the link to our new Wonder-Wall – and other questions (that won’t necessarily be in our chat on Thursday night) – but might spur some great collaborative knowledge building!!





I really look forward to learning with you all on Thursday March 31, 9PM

If you wish to engage in any of these extra questions that I created, right here in the comment section of my blog – please do! I have other questions that we will discuss on Thursday.

A great way for us to build knowledge again. They could even spur on new questions for our wonder-wall:)

  • How can you implement feedback and inquiry processes in Kindergarten?
  • How can I give feedback to students that helps them to incorporate FNMI perspectives and ways of knowing in their inquiries?
  • If in a split grade, should Inquiry questions be kept separate for each grade?
  • Share any great strategies for feedback and inquiry that have worked with you!
  • What feedback can you give to help students, while in inquiry, to move to deeper levels of learning?  
  • What role does feedback play in determining how much information students need before and during an inquiry in order to be successful?
  • How can you use feedback and inquiry to properly challenge students who are gifted?
  • In promoting inquiry, are we using feedback and support to always guide students toward the Big ideas?
  • How will I know whether students are using their feedback to improve their learning?
  • For our final reporting methods, what could be the benefits of replacing the final report card with Portfolios full of meaningful feedback from before, during and after student inquiries?
  • Inquiry can take a long time, and not all students are ready to engage in inquiry processes at the same time. How do we differentiate for a whole class at vastly different places in their learning?
  • What feedback strategies can help students ask deeper questions?
  • What preliminary strategies are necessary to build the feedback frameworks necessary to conduct inquiry?
  • What conditions need to be in place to help students seek feedback?
  • There is so much curriculum. Where do we begin? How do we determine what part of inquiry is the most important?



Deborah McCallum



The Feedback Friendly Classroom



14 Considerations for Inquiry Based Learning


Inquiry is essential.

The fact is that students come to school with partial knowledges.  But the curriculum documents themselves do not address the parts that students know or don’t know. It has been built to present to us about the privileged people and only the most successful moments in history according to those people. Textbooks, websites and other resources generally reinforce this. It may not represent the real stories of our students.

For instance, social studies, history and geography generally focuses on the privileged people who had the ability to win and ‘own’ history. Just consider the lack of focus on anyone who is not privileged in history. For instance, Women, FNMI, Slaves, Middle Easterners, and more. We hear about the achievements of the upper class, but none about the working class.

Just consider the fact that it was not too long ago that only men were thought to be able to think scientifically or mathematically? The last Residential School closed in the 1990’s.

Where does this leave our students who already know some of these things about the world? What about the students who have other equally important knowledge of the world as what is shared in curriculum documents?

This is precisely why Inquiry is an essential part of our curriculum! 

Without student and teacher inquiry, knowledges remain partial and limited. Biases and stereotypes prevail.

But how do you foster inquiry? How do we make it meaningful for students? 

14 important conditions for meaningful student inquiry:

  1. We create a culture of wonder for our students! Wonder walls, and wonder journals are just 2 ways to support this culture:)
  2. We lead students with Big Ideas vs specific expectations.
  3. We encourage questions! We encourage students to continue to refine and hone in their questions, and we model good ones for our students.
  4. We reserve closed questions for Google, but teach skills to help students read and synthesize information for open questions.
  5. We know that younger students need more structure. But as students get older, we enable very messy, rigourous and ambigous inquiries. This really pushes students to demonstrate flexible thinking, and metacognition, grit and more!
  6. We have clear expectations of students, including the expectation that they will need to demonstrate their new understandings from their research.
  7. We allow students to research that which is not ‘privileged’.
  8. We allow connections to their own lives –  even if it is not listed as a concrete expectation in a curriculum document.
  9. Sometimes questions require new background knowledge. Students background knowledge might be only partial. Therefore, we realise that we may need to take time with activities that help students build background information first. We know that teachers and students alike may need to investigate something completely new and uncomfortable first to continue!
  10. We emphasize the process of inquiry, and not merely the creation of the end product.
  11. We realise that different students will be focusing on different skills, and/or different numbers of skills. But we are okay with this because learning is happening!
  12. We hold students accountable to high standards. We expect high quality conclusions, connections, inferences and many other forms of comprehension.
  13. We – as in teachers and learners alike – are continually engaged in feedback and assessment FOR and AS learning processes!
  14. We become comfortable with the fact that this is not ideally done in 1 – 2 fifty minute blocks a week.


What do you wonder about the Inquiry Process?

If you have a moment, please take a moment to fill out this Padlet Wonder Wall:




Deborah McCallum


Fill out our Wonder Wall! Promoting Feedback and Inquiry #ontsshg

Promoting Feedback and Inquiry in the Social Studies, History and Geography classroom. Join us next Thursday February 25 @ 9PM on Twitter: #ontsshg

Please take a moment and fill out our Wonder Wall!


To Benefit Student Learning: Facilitating New Opportunities for Collaborative Inquiry, Action Research, Innovation


Today, it is imperative that we make changes to our traditional school paradigms to meet the learning needs of our students for today and their futures.

We need to reimagine how we structure our schools to promote ongoing daily collaboration opportunities for teachers for the purposes of planning, with the explicit goal of improving student learning.

I think we can take steps toward this by restructuring and reimagining the spaces and roles of our Teacher-Librarians and Planning Time Teachers.

In the spirit of

  • sharing ideas,
  • innovating,
  • integrative thinking
  • collaborative inquiries
  • being better together
  • new pedagogies 
  • making school different
  • Teachers Throwing out Grades
  • Cultivating Growth Mindsets
  • New Literacies

This is what I think we should try to promote more contextualized and skills-based learning for students and teachers alike.

We need to re-think the roles that operate within our schools to make change. We really need to think ‘outside the box’. How can schools and mindsets change when we continually find ourselves in situations where set roles, believes, and physical structures of our schools promote the status quo.

I wanted to share an idea I have had for quite some time now. 

It is important to share ideas. If I am unable to make this change, then perhaps others will be inspired and have the opportunity! What I know, is that it is very difficult to be integrative, innovative and implement new pedagogies, especially when the roles that operate within the school are as set as the building itself.

Public Libraries are successful because they work in teams running fixed and flexible schedules all the time! This is a great benefit to the communities they service. What if our schools did the same thing?

First, I believe that we are not harnessing the true potential and power of the Planning Time Teacher. We know that we need to integrate learning among subjects. What value is there in a planning time teacher going into a classroom for 2 or 3 short blocks of time a week?

Second, teachers do not have enough time to meet with others in the school to collaborate with inquiry teams.

Next, Equitable Access to the Learning Commons is not possible with one Teacher-Librarian. Resources need to be accessible to all students, and wouldn’t it be great if we could make the Learning Commons open at all times of the day, including recesses, lunch hours and after school?

What if all classes in the school had access to iPads, computers, to drop in and work on projects at any time, in addition to the ability to engage in activities and learning including coding, makerspaces and genius hour and collaborative inquiries? What if the resources were there, and could be utilized on a flexible AND fixed schedule at the SAME time?

So many libraries do not have computers for students to drop in and use, and flexible times are not available when students could be working on projects and gaining equal access to technology ie., before school, recesses, and after school. What can we do to provide more access to students working before school, at recesses, and after school?

Finally, what if planning time teachers and teacher librarians merged to become ‘Library Teams’ with all of the resources at your finger tips, multiple classes, multiple schedules making the library ‘hub’ what it is supposed to be according to our OLA and CLA documents?


Here are some of my driving questions:

  1. What if we did not have traditional planning time teachers?
  2. What if the role of the TL evolved?
  3. What if the 2 roles of planning time and TL were not separate, but integrated?
  4. What if we had library teams instead of separate planning time and TL roles. I realise that many TL’s also do planning time, but that is not what I am talking about.
  5. If the expertise of the planning time teacher was integrated with that of the Librarian, would we then have a situation where we could have the library open all day, every day?
  6. Could we engage in and cultivate integrative, creative, innovative, collaborative inquiries and action research across students and staff?
  7. If the space of the library was shared among teams of Librarians, much like a Public Library, could free up significant chunks of time each week for teachers to engage in collaborative inquiries, action research and innovative and effective instructional design?

A New Model of the Learning Commons & Planning Time to Benefit the whole School:

What I would love to see is the Learning Commons open to all students all day long, and with multiple people being responsible for collaborating and providing cool programs for everyone in the school.

I envision classes coming down to the Learning commons to engage in anything from makerspaces, genius hour, and learning key literacy skills that are essential for students in our age of information. This can happen because the planning time teachers and Librarian are now ‘Library Teams’. Students could be actively involved in their own collaborative inquiries and actively involved in self-reflection and feedback processes.

With multiple teachers on the library team, this would also free up longer blocks for teacher teams to meet and collaborate – which is necessary to run collaborative inquiries, engage in action research, enhance professional development and promote & sustain innovative practices. The comments, feedback and expectations covered would be based on needs and interests of students, which requires skill from the teachers, and drives collaborative inquiries for the students and parents.

The enormous jobs of the Learning Commons could all be managed by the team, instead of one person. This could lead to more inclusion of more staff and students, in addition to allowing for all of the enormous jobs of the Learning Commons to be taken care of.

In conclusion, the Library Learning Commons would never have to close. Equitable access to technology including iPads and laptops whenever students needed them for work, whether it is before school, at recess time or after school. This is a key element of bridging the digital divide. Everyone on the team would know how to run, manage and provide support for information literacy skills at all times of the day.


If I could, this would be my new Collaborative Inquiry.This is how I would Make School Different! This would be part of my New Pedagogies for Deep Learning! This is how I would Innovate, put more emphasis on feedback vs grades, and promote growth mindsets!

I would love to hear your thoughts!

Thanks to Brian Aspinall for asking this great question in his post: How Can You Assess My Creativity? Here is his question: How do we stimulate creative inquiry with prescribed makerspace activities?

Deborah McCallum

c 2015

SAMR, Collaborative Inquiry & Tech enabled Learning


Earlier this year I began a collaborative teacher inquiry that would set up a technological framework for supporting literacy in the lives of our students, and increasing knowledge.

My framework fit very nicely with Ruben Puentedura’s SAMR model. The following is an example of one way I am incorporating the SAMR into literacy.


Different Entry Points into Learning


What is the SAMR? Framework for integrating technology into practice. Possible entry points. Just an organizational principle, but does not have to follow this plan. Just suggestions/framework, then we can decide where we want to go next. Examples embedded.

S: Substitution –

Taking the literacy already being done with the Forest of Reading and substituting what students are already doing with traditional literacy, with  for example, reflections on a blog, book trailer on iMovie (if you have access to an iPad) or book talk on Prezi. Any web-based platform accessible from school laptops.  Other ideas??
A: Augmentation –

Include something new – enhance the presentation with audio, images, links, sound effects, animations, background music etc.
M: Modification –

Elicit feedback from other students in the class – tweeting the information and commenting to each other. Sharing blog posts, tweeting links to prezi for book talk, etc. other ideas??
Sharing tweets of blogs and links etc. with other students and teachers, authors, illustrators, publishers, Ontario Library Association to make more connections.
R: Redefinition –

Previously unimaginable
Perhaps using Google Hangouts to connect with other students at other schools and teach them how to do the same thing
Students can see themselves as the creators and producers of their skills and their work

My framework included a blog, website, and twitter accounts: @SCDSBforest and @SCDSBbookclubs, and now also @forestofreading as the organizational structures in cyberspace. A way to organize connections between students and knowledge across diverse communities, environments, cultures, and people. A technology supported learning environment and growing connections between students and staff that would help students to step outside of the micro-cultures that exist within our classrooms, and find their voices and passions.

We used twitter, blogs, iMovie, and held an online book club on Skype between 2 different schools within the same school board, facilitated by @mswift with subsequent google form data.

But the technology was applied to an already ‘well-oiled literacy-machine’, with the purpose of not just incorporating technology-enabled learning environments to our literacy programs, but also to add opportunities for promoting student voice.

More importantly however, I believe that literacy is directly connected with knowledge building and knowledge creation. This is because literacy is designed to support students to organize information in meaningful ways that creates new knowledge. It is important to move beyond the technology, and address the key pedagogical traits that we must apply to help us truly understand whether students are able to retrieve and apply their knowledge in meaningful ways. It is also essential to provide the virtual structures to help organize the entire literacy process.

Literacy has the potential to go far beyond book knowledge and basic literacy skills. There are opportunities and possibilities through technology that can help with the integration of more complex tasks that foster knowledge building and development.

Social & Emotional Development

There are additional opportunities for linking the social and emotional development as well. Opportunities for the students to connect with the characters and storylines, and then in turn use technology to connect with the creators of the characters and stories, other students from diverse backgrounds, and other educators, the list goes on. Then, students are able to share personal connections, and pulling together the different pieces of knowledge from various aspects of their lives and create new knowledge.

This also promotes digital citizenship.

I also believe that through the use of technology, we can supplant positive interactions and collaborative environments that may be lacking in our own classroom micro-cultures – one classroom, one teacher, and one group of students will never be the best environment for all students. Therefore, I believe that we can increase the likelihood of helping students to increase their personal learning, growth, understanding of themselves, and ultimately their performance in multiple literacies.

Please check us out! Get involved! Let us know what you think!

Websites to promote our collaborative inquiry:

Twitter Accounts: & &


@forestofreading that I am helping to manage for the OLA

In addition to: Facebook, Tagboard, Storify, and the list will continue to grow and evolve!


Last but not never least, feedback is essential. The organizational structures need to have embedded feedback throughout. Feedback is the glue that links everything that you have been doing. It links essential skills, digital citizenship, learning skills, overall expectations. It validates student voice. It enhances student  voice. Further, we recognize that feedback can come from others – via online book clubs, online Forest of Reading, via students or teachers across Canada, via Authors, Illustrators, and Publishers.

Self-assessment, teacher assessment, can help students to understand what they are looking at, and go beyond the basic principles of learning and reinforcement.

Teachers can use technology in a myriad of ways to purposefully engage in all of the important components of literacy. I look forward to continuing on this journey, and adding depth and breadth to this inquiry in the years to come!

This inquiry is something that I will most certainly continue to build with @mswift! She is a fantastic partner @mswift with whom I will be continuing to work with throughout the upcoming school year.

Come learn more about this program at the BIT conference in Niagara Falls this November with a wonderful partner of mine and one who greatly helped out with this project: @mswift – We are very excited to be presenting this information!

I would love to hear your feedback, and would also hope that you will connect with us in the upcoming school year!

Deborah McCallum

6 Principles for eLearning

Online and blended learning can be tailored for students from primary through to higher education. Whether creating a shell for primary students, college students, or colleagues, the main principles remain the same, however different features need to be focused on depending upon the age group.

When using a Learning Management system for grade 3 for instance, it is most helpful if it is visually based with lots of icons. I have also found that just using the main ‘Announcements’ page to showcase student work has helped until students learn new features – which could take most of a school year depending on how often you have access to devices. Often, it is very difficult for primary students to navigate and understand. It requires abstract thought. However, it is also beneficial and the D2L has made great strides in the last year or so with ‘Carousel’ and visual icons from OSAPAC for students to use.

On the other hand, online courses for higher education tend to be more textual based. We assume that this works best for adults, but the truth is that we still need to differentiate for our fellow colleagues just as much as we need to with our students! I have worked with Learning Management systems for years, and am still learning. I have a long way to go still to understanding the best pedagogical elements that need to be implemented to for different needs. However, I have picked up some great learning along the way, and I also know now that makes you a good instructor in the classroom – does not necessarily translate to good pedagogy in an online learning environment.

With that in mind, I have outlined 6 key principles that I have found to be important in creating an effective elearning environment:

1. Curation and addition of my own resources. I spend a lot of time reading, researching, and getting involved with other educators in online Professional Learning Networks. I pair this with my own experiences in my educational environments and curate and write information to support the curriculum that I am instructing.

For instance, embedding a twitter account tailored to the courses I teach, whether AQ, OntarioLearn or elementary students. Other resources include tailor made platforms that support learning specifically to what I am involved with in an eLearning course:















Just to name a few!

2. Supplementing text-heavy environments with other types of resources. I am still getting there, but I have used Tellagami, Voki, audio and YouTube within courses, and in my own resources as well. I do not yet use them regularly enough, but I will continue to use them and embed them at more regular junction points. Further, other multimedia including live chats can help move beyond the structured discussion threads to real-time dialogue and sharing. It also promotes innovative ideas and the integration of past experiences and knowledge.

3. Encouragement of participation. I use this with a blend of strategies including starting the course with modelling, clear information posted in different sections, ongoing formative feedback through discussion posts, emails, summative feedback. I have a wiki that explains this in further detail that helps to set the stage at the beginning of the courses. Better questions, and additional resources and addition of new ideas help candidates add critical thinking skills to their posts beyond the basics.

4. Gradual Release Model of Responsibility. The course begins with me modelling and connecting with all candidates on a regular basis. As the course continues the hope is that participants have created a culture within the individual class that supports higher order thinking and a supportive environment amongst each other with relationships that continue to support participation and deeper learning within the course.

5. Summaries of key learning strategies shared. I believe it is important for participants to see their key strategies and ideas shared and have them reinforced. This promotes deeper learning.

6. Assessment: I keep a running google doc of each participant where I record important information that I need to effectively assess the learning that is going on.

Blended learning and online learning is an evolving craft that requires sound pedagogy. I am also on a journey of discovery and learning to find the best pedagogical practices for the groups that I work closely with. Differentiation is always key, and being respectful of the different cultures, experiences, and ideas that each person brings to the class.

 What strategies work well for you in your eLearning courses?

Deborah McCallum

© Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education, 2012-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.