Tag Archive | STSE

STAO – Using Technology and Social Media to Explore STSE Issues #STAO2013

During TDSB’s board wide PD session I attended and presented at the STAO Conference (Science Teachers Association of Ontario).  I attended some great sessions and got some real inspiration from Steve Spangler.  He not only showed some great demos but shared many heart warming stories.  Spangler stressed the importance of never knowing which moment in teaching inspires which students.  Students may resonate with something that was trivial to you but sticks with them. His story involved a retired grade 1 teacher who ran into her former student during breakfast one day. The student, now with a family of his own, asked if she remembered the grade 1 solar system activity and that it inspired him.  She didn’t remember at first and then upon his further explanation she remembers hanging planets on the ceiling and kids pretending to fly to them. She thought it was just a fun activity but the former student said it inspired him.  The student was part of the team that worked on the Mars rover.

Heading over to the STAO Tweet Up I got to meet some great educators that are also using social media personally and professionaly in the classroom with their students.  Always great to get a real life visit with people you interact with online and consider a valuable professional development resource.

My presentation – “Using Technology and Social Media to Explore STSE Issues”

“Engaging students with technology and social media to explore STSE issues and student-led, research-informed action projects. Lesson plans, student examples and demos include netbooks, Wikispaces, Twitter, YouTube, VROC, and simulations.”

Presentation: http://prezi.com/zxumlcofacht/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy&rc=ex0share

Handout: https://taught.it/d/KFMTfQ

I felt the presentation went well with many engaged educators who not only were listening to me but interacting and sharing their own ideas.  I love when I can go present at a conference at learn from others in my own presentation. I think it shows a whole new level of engagement and respect for the attendees as valuable participants.

Taught.it contest: https://taught.it/d/31EuaQ

Want to win an Apple TV or iTunes gift card? Click the link above and join Taught.it, make connections and share with fellow educators!

Thanks John for the photo!

Zoras Presentation



TDSB Eureka 2013 Presentation: Students’ Research-informed Actions on STSE Issues

Dr. J. Lawrence Bencze – Associate Professor OISE, University of Toronto
Brandon Zoras ACL of Science, Cedarbrae CI

TDSB Eureka Conference, Friday February 15th 2013

Target: All Course Relevance Gr. 9-12
Room # – 242 KTL Ref: AM-S1.14

After a brief outline of theory surrounding promotion of student -led, primary research-informed, actions on STSE issues, practical classroom-tested examples will be shared. With issues, debates among powerful decision-makers are emphasized; with research, correlational studies are emphasized; with actions, IT- based ones are highlighted.

PRESENTATION HERE: http://prezi.com/xlgkfdzkyqte/stepwise-eureka/?kw=view-xlgkfdzkyqte&rc=ref-722281 


Correlation Ruler Drop

Correlational Study_Apprenticeship Activities ZORAS 10 Science

STSE Optics Cards



STSE Technologies CARDS

For more information visit http://stepwiser.ca

Science and Hip Hop. Blood minerals in our phones! #hiphoped inspiration #STSE

Yesterday we watched Blood in the Mobile.  A documentary about the mining of minerals like coltan and cassiterite from mines controlled by arms group in the Congo.  We had a large class discussion about action we can take when an issue happens and we want change.  It is us as consumers buying products, large companies purchasing from companies that in turn purchase raw materials from arms groups in the Congo.  Our consumerism is funding civil conflict and destruction.  We watched the Story of Electronics (from the creators of Story of Stuff) and then we talked about action we can take.  I showed them the Phone Apes program from the Toronto Zoo that recycles the minerals in the phones so that forests don’t have to be torn down in the Congo.  This is a environmental, social, and political problem all combined in one.  Science and Technology do not operate in silos but infused in our lives.

An action I showed my students today was a powerful message using hip hop and spoken word to relay a message about blood minerals in our phones.  Watch below:

Come Clean for Congo: http://www.enoughproject.org/

Success of Teaching to Teachers, Using Demonstration Classrooms to Improve Pedagogy and Practice

I was asked to lead a demonstration classroom to 8 other teachers within my school board.  I was nervous at first, as I knew I was going to be one of the newest and youngest teachers there (which turns out I was).  I was also very excited to share some of the ideas I have tested and receive feedback.

The session was called Incorporating Literacy & STSE to Engage Digital Learners.  I firmly believe a great way to engage applied students in science is to pose a problem that is relevant to them.  We started off by watching the trailer to the documentary called H2Oil (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xenYLY5lU58) , and then an ad from  Cenovus Energy, a company wanting to extract oil from Alberta Oil Sands (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D1mZMOP-wbY) .  I had the students write on an oil drop if they believed we should remove the oil from Alberta and sell it to other countries.  The students had various opinions, and were given the option to change their opinion once they watched both trailers.  The following week we actually screened the full H2Oil documentary to the students.

The other teachers came into the room and watched how the students used netbooks to create a wiki about power generation.  The lesson plans will be placed below the post.  The idea was a new island was formed in Lake Ontario that needed its own type of power generation.  The students needed to make a wiki to make a pitch to the mayor to choose their best power generation (nuclear, coal, solar etc.).  Students had time to research and then use Wikispaces to create the site that included diagrams, picture and YouTube videos.  The teachers were very impressed with how seamlessly the technology was integrated into the lesson.  That is how technology should be integrated, the curriculum and concepts are more important, technology is the tool used.  We can grow our technology skills and transfer them to other areas as well.  We ended with an Exit Card, which had the students write down 3 things they learned, 2 things they wanted to learn more about and 1 way they can make a change to help the environment.  This allowed me to read them and see what they learned from the lesson and what I needed to add next time, as well as their interests.

The debriefing of the demo class went very well, we worked together with the Instructional Leader for science to provide feedback and also how the other teachers could do this same lesson this year.  I really enjoyed running the session and hope to do another soon.  It is very important as a teacher to step out of your classroom and try a new project once and a while.  The most important thing about technology that I have learned is that the students will always surprise you by doing something beyond or even helping you when you are stuck.

3-2-1 Exit Card Environment

Electrical Energy Wiki Assignment Handout

Lesson Plan SNC1P Power Generation

Eureka TDSB Secondary Science Teachers Conference

This years conference was very successful and teaches us the importance to come together every once and a while and share.  This is the 3rd one I have been to and first one I have presented at.  There is always something for everyone from things as small as nano particles to as large as global warming and black holes.

Alan Nursall (@alannursall) did an amazing job opening up the conference.  He engaged us with unique demos that got us all thinking of how to further open the minds of our students to science.  He discussed the importance of shared learning and understanding science.  This is modeled in his show on Daily Planet.

My presentation “Not another boring brochure! Using Wiki’s for STSE projects” went extremely well.  This was my first time presenting at a conference as I have hosted demo classrooms for groups no larger than 10 in my class.  (See here for the wiki we collaborated on and the handouts and power point notes http://mrzoras.wikispaces.com/).  The most important part of my session was to have each teacher leave with a functioning wiki, a better understanding of using STSE education (Science, Technology, Society and Environment) and a list of their own wikis so we can collaborate in the future.  I really enjoyed presenting and made me think that if someone has a good idea its best to share it as we have seen people who like to keep ideas to themselves.  Within a public education board, we are all paid on a grid not on what lessons we produce.  So why not help other teachers as I can only support my 90 students a semester and they shouldn’t be the only ones benefiting but if I help 35 teachers, do the math!  We should all be collaborating, working on fluid projects that look at how to make ALL students successful.

I attended two other sessions, one “Incorporating Literacy, STSE and Co‐operative Learning in Gr. 10 Science” by Leila Knetsch, who I have had the pleasure to work with before.  She did a great job sharing and modeling a wide variety of hands on activities to explore STSE components.  The other session was about a site with online lesson plans and virtual classrooms. http://www.greenlearning.ca/ is a site about climate change and science.  The subsite Cool 2.0 allows for collaborative, rankings and submissions of lesson plans and activities.  This is a great way to share resources that are approved and classroom ready.

All in all, great conference and now with one conference complete I will be looking for ways to share at other events!  Thanks to Nandanee Sawh one of the instructional leaders of science from TDSB for organizing such a successful event.


Yes this is a picture of my slide, I know i could have uploaded the slide but wanted to put you in the conference 🙂


Not another boring brochure! Using Wiki’s for STSE projects

2012 TDSB Secondary Science Teacher’s Conference 

Friday February 17th 2012
Marc Garneau Collegiate Institute

Not another boring brochure! Using Wiki’s for STSE projects

Brandon Zoras
Science Teacher, Cedarbrae CI

Target: Common / General Interest / All course relevance ROOM # ‐ 222 KTL Ref: AM‐S1.06

This workshop will showcase past projects from my grade 9, 10, 11U & 12U Chemistry classes. It will highlight curriculum from 9/10 science and possible projects based on STSE / inquiry. There will be a tutorial on how to use wikispaces software: creating an account and imbedding videos, pictures and text into the site. There will be time to create accounts and pair in groups based on grade/subject. We will conclude with sharing experiences and exchanging sites for future collaboration. 


The above is the description for the one session workshop I will be leading at the TDSB Science Teacher Conference.  I am excited to be leading my first session in a conference for a number of reasons.

Firstly, I really want to see the use of technology expand into all teachers’ classrooms.  Yes, making posters and colouring brochures can have it’s place but when you can have the students creating wikis it is engaging and fun!

Having true web 2.0 in the classroom is having students create content and not just be the consumer of information.  Having students bring in prior knowledge and experiences into the class acknowledges them as partners in learning and not just a one way flow of information from teacher to student.  We can collaborate on a fluid document that can be used for a variety things.

Examples of Wikis I used:

Eco Club at Cedarbrae:

Grade 11 Chemistry Self Study Chapters: http://cedarbraechemistry.wikispaces.com/

Grade 9 Power Project