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A summary of what I have learned from my photography inquiry

I think I have learned a lot through my inquiry on photography. I started off my inquiry project by buying a camera (this was a very large purchase for me!). I wanted to make the right decision as I knew that I would have this camera for a while. Being able to blog about my decision-making on this purchase and weighing the pros and cons of both the cameras I was considering, I think helped me make a sound decision and so far, I LOVE the Sony Alpha 7 ii. After purchasing the camera, I pretty much had no idea where to start. I didn’t have any previous expense with taking photos with an actual camera since all my photos in the past were done with just an iPhone (not the best quality). So, I decided to start with the basics. I would say I was defiantly more focused and interested in the techniques of shooting photos and not so much on the mechanics of the camera to take a good photo, that’s why I started with looking at the rule of thirds. The rule of thirds is a simple yet effective way to take photos. It is a composition technique that can make the image stronger and more interesting than simply taking a symmetrical photo (“The Rule of Thirds in Photography: A Simple and Effective Composition Technique,” 2018). After, playing with the rule of thirds technique, I was introduced to Lightroom, which is a photo editing software. I was introduced to this software by some family members that are professional photographers, and what a difference it makes! It’s quite easy to use and has more options than just using iPhoto. However, it comes at a price…it’s about $9 a month for the student version, and I haven’t fully decided if it’s worth the cost yet. When I had the free version though I really enjoyed it and when a photo is edited properly more detail can be brought out. I then tried night photography, which now I think I understand more, but when I first tried this in October, it was done trial and error. I didn’t understand how the ISO and shutter speed really played into night photography, probably because I went straight to teaching myself photography techniques and skipped over the mechanical part of photography (Dan, 2020). About mid-way into my inquiry, I got lens filters as a gift. Before this inquiry, I didn’t realize the difference filters make to a photo. I think the polarizing filter is the one I have used the most, as it brings out the colours making my photos more vivid (which I like) (“How are Camera Lens Filters Used in Photography?,” 2018). The neutral density filter I have not used yet but intend to take it to Goldstream next weekend to try it out. Neutral density filters reduce the light that comes into the lens allowing you to get smooth looking water features (“How are Camera Lens Filters Used in Photography?,” 2018). My last couple of techniques I tried were landscape photography and sunset photos, which I love doing. Since being able to reflect on both of these types of photography, I can now see they are in-fact very similar. For both these types of photography, the most important skill I found was that the time of day will make or break your photo. Making sure you are taking photos during the morning or at the golden hour will give you the light that makes photos romanticized and spectacular (something that’s hard to replicate in photo editing software) (Denney, 2019). Also, arriving before-hand, scouting out your angle will help make sure you get a great photo (Eldon & Holtzer, 2020). The last technique that I learned about was taking action shots in low light. This was one was quite tricky, and I still need to practice it, but when trying to learn this skill I learned a lot about ISO and shutter speed.

Overall, I think I learned a lot from my inquiry. It got me outside for a walk or hike and I now have some skills in order to take beautiful photos. I plan on keeping up with learning new photography skills past this class, as my passion for photography has increased from this inquiry. At the bottom, I have included my favourite photos that I have taken over this term (and some that I haven’t shown in other blog posts).


Dan. (2020). Everything You Need to Know About Night Photography. Retrieved from https://www.halfhalftravel.com/photography-advice/night-photography.html

Denney, M. (2019). 5 Beginner Landscape Photography Mistakes to Avoid. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWdwkkzFg3M

Eldon, D., & Holtzer, G. (2020). 10 Easy Tips for Capturing Stunning Sunset Photography. Expert Photography. Retrieved from https://expertphotography.com/stunning-sunset-photography/

How are Camera Lens Filters Used in Photography? (2018). O 42 West. Retrieved from https://www.adorama.com/alc/a-beginners-guide-to-camera-lens-filters

The Rule of Thirds in Photography: A Simple and Effective Composition Technique. (2018). PosterJack. Retrieved from https://posterjack.ca/blogs/inspiration/the-rule-of-thirds-in-photography-a-simple-and-effective-composition-technique

Digital Storytelling

By Ryan and Alex 

TechEd Inquiry Project – Digital Storytelling

           The act of storytelling, in its multifarious forms, is arguably one of the few if only social and cultural universal among human societies. Storytelling serves some of the most vital functions from the passing on of important survival information, exploring the meanings of our world, or delving into the depths of our social experiences. We all love stories. Whether we read them, watch them, listen to them, or participate in them physically, we love them. With the growing ease of access to digital tools for design, film, recording, art, and text development, our stories are growing more digitally interconnected on a global scale.

           Our technological inquiry asks, what is digital storytelling, how can it be used in classrooms, and what critical considerations do we need to take into account?

What is Digital Storytelling?

           Digital storytelling, as a specific form of communication, is distinct from other modes of storytelling. Being digital, it is necessarily oriented towards the use of multimedia such as audio/visual features, music, still images, live presentation or recording, and 3D rendering. It is also frequently interactive in ways that other forms of storytelling are not. For example, it may incorporate features of a choose-your-own adventure book, but through soundscapes or visual settings. Of course, none of the features of digital storytelling distinguish it from analog forms of the same thing.  A cinema can show a film just as well as a streamer on the internet can. What is distinct is the growing access to tools by a growing pool of people who are able to share their stories globally instantaneously.

           For users, digital storytelling tools create a new digital space for expression. In it they can create stories and tell their own in ways that may otherwise be unavailable to them socially, materially, or politically. Access to such tools can be a part of disrupting entrenched understandings of who gets to tell their stories and how when used in conjuncture with social activism and organizing. With this, the global reach of such tools and the universality of telling stories means that digital storytelling can act as a bridge across continents and cultural differences allowing people to share and explore each others stories’ in an increasingly globalizing world.

Research on Digital Storytelling Methods in Classrooms

           There has been a good deal of research in the past few years on the integration of digital storytelling tools into the classroom both as a method of lesson delivery and as an interactive activity for students to participate in and tell their own stories with. In both cases, digital storytelling can fit into any subject area, though the way in which it is implemented would necessarily need to change depending on the class one is teaching. Regardless of the subject area, digital storytelling has been shown to give students an outlet for creative expression that may not otherwise be available to them by instructing them not only in methods of expression but in platforms that allow for a global reach and interaction. This has been shown to build confidence in personal expression and self-efficacy amongst students.

           The growth in self-efficacy is evident in the ways researchers and teachers see students grow as learners and peer teachers as they become confident with their own expression and the use of digital tools for storytelling. This helps create a greater sense of community and cooperation in the classroom, building a more student-centered environment where the teacher becomes a servant-leader in facilitating learning the tools. The multimodal nature of digital storytelling tools gives multiple entryways into subject areas for students which has been particularly helpful for students who are learning English as another language, or who experience difficulties and challenges communicating.

           As Bernard Robin argues, using digital storytelling as a method for exploring content and concepts in ones classroom has demonstrably increased the accessibility of information for students. Because digital storytelling has so many entryways (making a video, interactive presentations, audio performances, game-like presentations, etc…) students are able to slide class competencies or content into something they are already interested in working through, like a new skill on a digital platform or tool. Learning best happens when people are able to construct meaning around the new concept, fact, skill, or other thing, and when we use stories and new tools to tell them, then the meaning making is blended directly into the very act of education, rather than being tacked on at the end or left in the air for students to hopefully grasp. The concepts or competencies we are trying to teach become entangled with the experience of developing their stories with peers, with performance, and with sharing their stories and listening to those of others. On top of their growth in self-efficacy, Robin also shows how digital storytelling has lead to better memory recall and growth in empathy among students who learn through stories.

Critical Considerations

           Corinne Gordon has done extensive case study research on secondary teachers implementing digital storytelling into their classrooms in both English and Math subject areas. In her work we see some of the ways that digital storytelling projects can, like any other project, lead to poor outcomes and learning for students if it is not facilitated effectively by the teacher. Gordon shows how during a digital storytelling project on utopian and dystopian literature, a teacher failed to facilitate the guidelines of the assignment which lead to a student decorating their stated “utopia” with Nazi imagery. While we can see this as important in identifying a student that has problematic views (to say the absolute least) it does not help the general goal of the course or the safety of other students in the class.

           Student and teacher interaction is still necessary when using digital storytelling tools for projects or expression in class. To take digital storytelling methods as a panacea for teachers is not helpful.  Like any tool, it must be mediated by effectively teaching about its use, and teaching about the means of caring, empathetic storytelling. Digital storytelling is a method and offers a repertoire of tools for learning and expression that can make space for creative explorations of content areas, concepts, and competencies, but like any other method, it cannot be used without proper scaffolding. Likewise, the digital tools that are used in this kind of storytelling are not always going to be fully understood by every student, and not every student is going to become proficient or enjoy using them to tell a story. For this reason digital storytelling cannot stand alone. It is useful to accompany this method with other forms of communication such as short written or spoken analyses, descriptions, or other thoughts.

Conclusion and Further Steps

           As we have seen, digital storytelling is a powerful tool for developing self expression, compassion and cooperation, empathy, communicative skills through different media, and self-efficacy. Critically however, we must not let digital storytelling stand alone and give students unguided free reign on their work with it.  Facilitation on what meaningful and caring storytelling looks like is still necessary.

           As the above authors have shown, digital storytelling becomes even more effective as a means of teaching when it is interactive. Students will learn better through stories, either by listening or performing them. But when students are able to co-create a story together it fosters an even greater sense of community and gives yet another entryway to access the content, concepts, or competencies that the lesson is trying to communicate. One way of augmenting digital storytelling is by incorporating gamification.  While this could look like creating digital games, we became interested in looking at how it might fit in with in-person tabletop games like Dungeons and Dragons.

As Sarah Roman of Teaching With D&D demonstrates, using a digital platform and in class participation to run a D&D game based off Beowulf for her English literature class has not only increased student understanding of the topic at hand, but has generated a more open, communicative, confident, and socially caring classroom environment. Students were given a safer space to explore their performative sides while engaging deeply with the English tasks and learning from one another’s creative expressions.

           There are countless platforms and tools to use as a form of digital storytelling.  One that we like is Twine.  Check out our Twine story to see some platforms, how they work, and what we think of them! Hopefully it will help you integrate digital storytelling into your classroom in the future! 


Gordon, C. (2011). Digital Storytelling in the Classroom: Three Case Studies. Retrieved from https://repository.asu.edu/items/14437 

What is digital storytelling. (2020). Retrieved from https://blogs.brighton.ac.uk/digitalstorytelling/what-is-digital-storytelling/ 

Wyman, K. (2020). Digital Storytelling: Putting Students’ Passion for Technology to Good Use. Resilient Educator. Retrieved from https://resilienteducator.com/classroom-resources/digital-storytelling/ 

Robin, B. (2006). The educational uses of digital storytelling. … for Information Technology & Teacher Education …. Retrieved from http://digitalstorytelling.coe.uh.edu/articles/Educ-Uses-DS.pdf

Robin, B. (2020). About Digital Storytelling. Retrieved from https://digitalstorytelling.coe.uh.edu/page.cfm?id=27&cid=27 

Roman, S. (2019, February 12). Teaching With DnD. Retrieved from https://www.teachingwithdnd.com/ 

Roman, S. (2017) Literature with Dungeons and Dragons. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uegiwrB-8_s&ab_channel=ABildungSROMAN


Before this class, I had never heard of doodle notes, but wow I’m sold. Since I am someone with a learning disability, I have found this way of taking notes beneficial. I found it a relaxing process to draw the notes and it also required me to critically think and summarize the information. I think this way of note-taking could be very beneficial to students in any subject. Doodle notes have been shown to help students with ADHD focus in class, as it gives them an outlet for creativity (“Boosting Focus Through Doodling,” 2019; Sara, n.d.). Teachers have addressed the benefits of doodle notes for students with retention difficulties or physical disabilities (Sara, n.d.). Doodle note-taking helps with students’ retention as it associates words and images together, also known as a mnemonic. This type of note-taking gets students to take notes by writing instead of typing on a computer (Gammill, 2016). This also helps increase students’ retention as writing notes by hand has been shown to help students retain information for longer (Gammill, 2016). Although there are many benefits to doodle note-taking, I would argue that for some students, such as myself, re-scribing your hand-written notes from class into doodle notes might be easier and help retain information more than creating the doodle notes during a lecture. This is because it might take students a while to be able to process and summarize the information. Also, by doing doodle notes after the lecture, students are seeing the notes twice and therefore reinforcing it.

Here is a photo of my doodle note from class:


Boosting Focus Through Doodling. (2019). Math Giraffe. Retrieved from https://www.mathgiraffe.com/blog/a-better-solution-for-helping-students-with-adhd

Gammill, D. (2016). The Benefits of Using Doodling and Sketchnotes in the Classroom. Edcuation Week Teacher. Retrieved from https://www.edweek.org/tm/articles/2016/01/04/the-benefits-of-using-doodling-and-sketchnotes.html

Sara. (n.d.). Doodle, Hear from teachers who are using the Classrooms, ​strategy each day in their own. In the Classroom. Retrieved from https://www.doodlenotes.org/in-the-classroom.html

Lights! Camera! Action!

This week I learned about taking action shots in low light. If you have ever been to a theatre performance, an indoor sporting event, or in my case, my dog’s playtime, you will know what I mean when I say taking action shots in low light is hard! I found action shots particularly hard to do because they always ended up blurry. So, I did a little research and found some sites that described some techniques and camera settings in order to capture the action shots in low light. The first suggestion was to use manual focus because it gives you complete control (Hamel, n.d.). I found that I am still not comfortable with using the manual focus, so I decided to stick with autofocus for my photos. The article also suggests that if your subject is far away, like at a play or dance recital, to use a long lens that has a large aperture (Hamel, n.d.). The large aperture will let more light in and help with the quality of the photo in the low light setting (Hamel, n.d.). A fast shutter speed is also necessary in order to keep your moving subject in focus (Hamel, n.d.). In order to make sure you are using the right shutter speed you can follow the Reciprocal Rule, which states that the minimum shutter speed needed to keep the picture sharp is the inverse of the focal length (Hamel, n.d.). I found this a little confusing, so I just set my shutter speed by trial and error. Lastly, this article suggests using a high ISO in order to achieve the right exposure (Hamel, n.d.). During my dog’s playtime, I took many shots, and some turned out okay and others not great, but I decided not to worry about that and follow the mantra that “the more photos you take, and the more mistakes that you make, the better your photography will become” (Landwer-Johan, n.d.).


This video goes into more depth on ISO and shutter speed that are needed for low lights action photography.

Some of my photos from this week:



Hamel, J. (n.d.). 13 Tips for Doing Action Photography in Bad Light. Digital Photography School. Retrieved from https://digital-photography-school.com/13-tips-for-doing-action-photography-in-bad-light/

Landwer-Johan, K. (n.d.). Why it’s a Good Idea to Take Lots of Photos. Digital Photography School. Retrieved from https://digital-photography-school.com/good-idea-take-lots-of-photos/

Video from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iMVHloCjot4

A mixture of the day and night

To take sunset photos there are a few tips I found on the internet. The first tip is to experiment; don’t just stay in one spot while taking photos, move around the location (Eldon & Holtzer, 2020). They also suggested arriving early or going before the shoot to determine the best angles to take photos at because sunsets don’t last very long (Eldon & Holtzer, 2020). However, the key to taking high-quality sunset photos is using a low ISO setting. This is because a low ISO setting will get rid of any noise in the photo, which is needed in low light situations (Eldon & Holtzer, 2020). This article also states that when making the ISO low, you should also make the aperture a small value in order to make the photo focused and sharp (Eldon & Holtzer, 2020). Lastly, you need to set the shutter speed. You can either increase your shutter speed to get a sharp photo with no blur or you can lower the shutter speed to show movement in the photo or give it a delicate lighting effect (Eldon & Holtzer, 2020).

My favourite part of these photos was the contrast between the dark blue night sky and the still light orange, yellow sky. I also love how you can barely see the city lights just below the orange sky.


Eldon, D., & Holtzer, G. (2020). 10 Easy Tips for Capturing Stunning Sunset Photography. Expert Photography. Retrieved from https://expertphotography.com/stunning-sunset-photography/

Educational video games in the classroom

I thought the lesson on video games as a teaching tool was super interesting and somewhat pertains to my group’s inquiry project that is on digital storytelling, as video games are like interactive digital stories. I am not a big video game player myself, but I think video games are defiantly something that could be used in any classroom and can be a valuable resource. This article by Bryan Lynn (2019) states that educational video games have been shown to increase student’s engagement and enjoyment with different subject areas. From research studies, they have shown that although video games may not increase standardized tests, they do increase students’ soft skills like cooperation, creative thinking, and empathy, which are skills that employers are looking for (Lynn, 2019). I have included a list of science-based video games that may be useful in the classroom:


  • Immune Defence
  • Cell to Singularity
  • Mission to Planet Earth
  • Sci-Ops: Global Defense
  • Mycocosm
  • You Change It! Climate Economic Game




Bryan Lynn. (2019). Video Games Used as Learning Tools in Schools. Learning English. Retrieved from https://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/video-games-used-as-learning-tools-in-schools/4754113.html

Landscape Photography-A lot harder than I thought

This week I experimented with some landscape photography. Before I went out, I watched this video by Mark Denney (2019). In this video, he summarizes five mistakes that people make when taking landscape photographs. The mistake that I found the most relevant to me is taking snapshot photos (Denney, 2019). Mark describes that many beginners (me included) will take snapshot photos that don’t have a clear subject or focus, and usually these photos will have twigs or branches that come into the frame which take away from the photo (Denney, 2019). He suggests asking yourself, why do I want to take this photo? What do I find interesting in this landscape? Another thing that I took out of this video was that it is important to shoot whenever you can, but really focus your efforts on sunset and sunrise (Denney, 2019). The light at both those times is very different than the light half an hour after or before because mid-day sun usually causes flat light (Denney, 2019). With this video in mind I tried to take some landscape photographs, but they did not really turn out. However, practice makes perfect so I will keep trying and experimenting!

Here are a couple of nature photos I took without the use of Mark Denney’s expertise.


Denney, M. (2019). 5 Beginner Landscape Photography Mistakes to Avoid. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWdwkkzFg3M

Flip, or not to flip, that is the question…

I think using a flipped classroom style of teaching in a science class would be beneficial to students. The flipped classroom allows a more individualized learning experience where students can work at their own pace on their own or in small groups (Trach, 2020). Flipped classrooms have been shown to be a more student-centred learning experience, as the teacher can address student’s needs individually instead of addressing the whole class (Trach, 2020). In these types of classroom settings, it is best to have a discussion or hands on activity to help students grasp the concept that they learned on the online portion (Trach, 2020). This can also help the teacher see where clarification is needed and which parts of the concept students understand (Trach, 2020). The one downside I see to this classroom style is that it assumes that all students will have access to a computer and internet (Trach, 2020). I think over this pandemic, it has become clear to educators that not all students have the same access to technology. I wonder if there are different ways that flipped classrooms could be achieved still but be modified for those students that don’t have access to a computer? Maybe the teacher could present these students with written text and paper handouts these students to still be able to participate in this new beneficial classroom setting.



Denney, M. (2019). 5 Beginner Landscape Photography Mistakes to Avoid. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWdwkkzFg3M

Editing done in seconds- Lens filters

Last week I bought a set of three lens filters: polarizing, neutral density, and a clear protective one. I put the clear protective one on right away. Earlier this week I wanted to try them out, so we went for a walk in Mount Doug. The cool thing with these filters is you can stack them on top of each other. So, for the walk, I had the clear protective filter plus the polarizing filter on top of it. As soon I put the polarizing filter on the greens, reds, and yellows of the natural vegetation was enhanced, making the images more vibrant. Camera filters can improve images by enhancing the contrasts in the image, producing photos with more vivid colours, and eliminating glare and defections from glossy surfaces (“How are Camera Lens Filters Used in Photography?,” 2018). The neutral density (ND) filter I have not experimented with yet. Apparently, this type of lens is supposed to reduce the amount of light that comes into the lens but doesn’t affect the colours of the image (“How are Camera Lens Filters Used in Photography?,” 2018). From this article I found, it says to the ND filter can be used on a sunny day or when trying to take photos in direct sunlight (“How are Camera Lens Filters Used in Photography?,” 2018).  The top photo  demonstrates the difference between a photo without a polarized filter (left) and a photo with a polarizing filter (right). The second photo is similar, but with a neutral density filter (right photo)

By Shutterstock



How are Camera Lens Filters Used in Photography? (2018). O 42 West. Retrieved from https://www.adorama.com/alc/a-beginners-guide-to-camera-lens-filters

A bit out of the apple- EdCamps for Professional Development Days

I found the EdCamp very useful and interesting. The only other time that I have been involved in an EdCamp was when I went to Esquimalt High School’s Pro-D day last month and it was very similar to the one that we did in class. So far, I have really enjoyed participating in EdCamps because they allow for inquisitive conservation to occur between colleagues. They are also cool because they are based around what the participants want to learn and what they are interested in, whereas on other Pro-D days the topics are predetermined. These types of camps give everyone a chance to share their interests, knowledge, and experiences, which I think is beneficial and helps educators to learn. One downside to EdCamps is that the participants can sometimes get off-topic; I experienced this in our in-class camp. However, it’s important to remember that off-topic conversations can be beneficial and lead to a new and enriching topic to investigate. Another benefit of these EdCamps is that they are open to all, no matter your role in education, this allows for diverse knowledge to be included in the conversation. At the bottom of this blog, I have posted a video that demonstrates the key aspects of EdCamps. http://https://youtu.be/gr7teMAk-hA

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