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

Create your own Google Search Engine

We are hearing a lot recently about search engines for kids. This is a tricky issue when we get into issues of social justice and certain groups of people and topics being omitted from searches. No matter what, we always need to be vigilant with our students when it comes to searching the internet. I just don’t think we can ever find that magic search engine that would preclude us from ever needing to teach our students key Information Literacy or Digital Citizenship skills. A great reason to have Teacher-Librarians in our schools!

With that being said, did you know that you can create your own custom search engines in google?

What a great way to curate the best sites that you love to use with your students! Why not with your colleagues as well?


This could be beneficial for any number of reasons, including (but not limited to) the following:

  • Choosing sites that are at more appropriate reading levels
  • Choosing sites that match topics that your students need information on
  • Choosing sites that are not bombarded with advertisements
  • Choosing sites that are more appropriate for students with special needs ie., not as text heavy, not too many distracting visuals etc.
  • Eliminating higher education websites that are difficult if not impossible to understand and read
  • Adding sites that you know students have passwords and usernames to – ie., OSAPAC resources
  • Maybe you just need a place to curate all of the coolest websites for kids that you have ever found!
  • Maybe you want to organize all of the best Librarianship resources for staff, parents and /or community?
  • Perhaps you even want to curate the best curriculum websites
  • Curate top math sites to help parents help students

In essence, we are not ‘censoring’ anything per se, merely curating many sites that we as educators know to be excellent. Students still need information literacy skills. They still need to sift through the information, find the best information, cite their sources, critically think about the messages being shared. They still may come up against advertisements and will still need media literacy skills.

How to set up your own Custom Search:

  1. Sign into
  2. Create Your New Search Engine:custom_search_engine_newcustom_search_engine_create
  3. Add Your sites to Your Custom Search Engine:custom_search_engine_add_new_sites

  4. Edit the Look and Feel of Your Custom Search Enginecustom_search_engine_look_and_feel

  5. Invite Collaborators to Your Custom Search Engine:custom_search_engine_admin_and_add_collaborators

Example of a Custom Search Engine I made last year for a specific project:

Mrs. McCallum’s Learning and Research

Or This New One that is being crowd-sourced:

Research For Kids

Hope you found this interesting!

Deborah McCallum

Innovation for New Pedagogies and Education Spaces

I have been thinking a lot lately about the deeper ‘why’ behind the need for innovation in education. The deeper WHY behind the need for new spaces and also new initiatives including, but not limited to, makerspaces and genius hour. While I have led initiatives like these before, and believe in them, I wanted to know ‘why’ they were important –other than the usual old rhetoric about meeting the needs of digital citizens in the 21st century. I wanted to really understand the deeper why.  

What I have come to understand, is that it has to be about equity and our deeper awareness of what equity means in the 21st century. It is also about recognition and restitution for all of our FNMI students and believe deeply in social justice.

Therefore, in my quest to understand why things need to change in education, ie., why students need more choice, voice and opportunities with technology, inquiry, different spaces and pedagogies, I realised that things need to change for the basic reason that we need to disrupt the status quo and promote equity.

We now are recognizing that there are many different ways to share an idea. More than one way to build knowledge. More than one way of knowing the world around us. We know that simple transmission of content from ‘expert to student’ is paternalistic. It also promotes apathy and indifference among students who are simply not interested.

How we ‘innovate’ can produce great potential for our young learners. As long as we are not using it to promote a more ‘privileged’ agenda, and that we are considering them as ways to promote more respectful and dialogical relationships with our students and communities. The traditional physical, virtual, social, financial and emotional boundaries of learning need to move, or disappear.

Innovating to foster equity and social justice in a context of privilege is difficult to say the least. But I think that we are acknowledging that our education system shares some of the complicitiy in maintaining an unjust status quo. Traditional teaching practices often promote this. We are challenging what we know to be true, in order to give voices to those who have not been able to have a voice in the past.


Here is what Innovation can do:

  1. Help us move beyond the beliefs that we need to define what is ‘correct or incorrect’ with our students.
  2. Help us begin to realise that what we teach, or not teach, needs to be relevant to students!! This is HUGE! If we continue to teach with content and strategies that are irrelevant to our students, then we are essentially ensuring that we help create apathy and indifference.
  3. Help us encourage students to really think about things – not just assume they need to understand our externally imposed teaching and evaluation protocol.
  4. Help promote cultural synthesis, not cultural invasion. We recognize that we teach our curriculum from a white settler perspective. Educators still lack adequate knowledge and understanding about the true First Peoples of this land we now call Canada.
  5. Help us realise that our role is not to teach, or transmit knowledge – it is now to ‘learn’ with the people.
  6. Help us understand that we cannot package and ‘sell’ the curriculum. It needs to be co-created among co-learners.
  7. Help us generate attitudes of awareness through critical reflection.
  8. Help us foster appreciation for intrinsic value and intrinsic human worth.
  9. Help us educate from a posture of solidarity with our co-learners – not from ‘paternalism’ – and a belief that we alone ‘know what is right’.
  10. Help us encourage students and educators who are more privileged, ie., in terms of class, social status, race, gender, sexual orientation, culture and more, to hear the voices of ALL students – this means we hear the voices of students and learners who are oppressed along the same axis – we hear the voices even when they are articulated in violence.
  11. Help us stop looking at the ‘other’, for instance FNMI students, as a ‘project’, or as solely having an identity solely linked to oppression.
  12. Help us move beyond sserting our own educational agenda.
  13. Help us realise that we all have a shared humanity.

For all the reasons listed above, is why I firmly believe in the necessity of innovation, in addition to initiatives that include, but are not limited to, makerspaces, genius hour, inquiry based learning, and creating more dynamic spaces.

We innovate to create equity, AND meet the needs of all learners in the 21st century.

If we are not engaging in new pedagogies and new ways of thinking, then I fear that we are working solely from a place of privilege that continues to promote oppression, apathy, and indifference – in addition to making school ‘unsafe’ for many of our students.


Deborah McCallum

C 2016

Learning Commons Technology Mini-MOOC

Learning Commons Technology Mini-MOOC

The purposes of a Library Learning Commons are inherent in the 5 Standards of the Canadian Library Association. They can be found in the Leading Learning Document.

They are as follows:

  1. Facilitating collaborative engagement to cultivate and empower a community of learners.
  2. Advancing the learning community to achieve school goals.
  3. Cultivating effective instructional design to co-plan, teach and assess learning.
  4. Fostering literacies to empower life-long learners.
  5. Designing learning environments to support participatory learning.

The Learning Commons therefore plays a big role in providing options for collaborative engagement, innovation in learning design opportunities,  and multiple literacies. That is why I created this Technology Mini-MOOC.

I created this mini-mooc with the goal of providing free, flexible and safe spaces to try out new tech skills. This is a way to increase engagement of students, educators and parents alike. By increasing basic technology skills, we are also increasing the differentiated pathways that can engage learners, and improve student achievement.

It is important to provide agile, and differentiated learning experiences for all learners.

This MOOC is about fostering digital and technical literacies that can empower and promote life-long learning. Enrollment is set at 10 per term in order to provide personalized feedback and guidance to candidates if needed. No timelines, no deadlines. When students, educators, parents and community have a safe space to go to build confidence and agency in tech skills, we are helping them to gain vital skills in a globalized, future-oriented learning environment.

Please join the MOOC, or peruse the site as we create new networked learning communities together that enable us to respond to ever changing school, district and global demands.

While still a work in progress, I would appreciate feedback to make this better for when it officially launches.

Please check out our site at: Learning Commons Technology in Learning Mini-MOOC



Deborah McCallum

c 2015

Reading the Internet


We spend so much time talking about the technology, and all of the great new apps, programs, tips and tricks. Undoubtedly it is a literacy unto itself. But do we really teach our kids how to ‘read’ the internet?

How do we harness literacy skills as they specifically relate to the technologies available to us, including how to conduct proper internet searches. How do we help our students improve their reading skills in the digital world?


Many of our students are reading about the Paris attacks. But where are they receiving this information? What context is this information presented in? Is the information shared in Canada the same as the information shared from another country or perhaps third world nation? How do we teach our students to monitor how the story develops online?How do we help students identify and understand difficult vocabulary?

Are we only teaching our students to read books?  Who are they as readers? How do we harness our library and classroom reading resources and move beyond to the ability to effectively read the internet?

We need to help students transform their work with traditional texts to align with digital reading that they inevitably engage with more and more as they get older. While also keeping in mind that the digital divide is still very real. Next, we need to support the critical thinking that is essential in our digital environments. Perspective, bias, stereotypes, language, comprehension – it all applies online, but in very unique ways due to the ways we conduct our searches. However, most of us don’t really know how to read the internet. 

We cannot assume that technology itself is the magic bullet that improves literacy skills. And according to Alan November, we cannot just apply our traditional work to the new technology – otherwise we are just using a very expensive form of a pencil!! iPads are so much more than $1000 pencils!

We have and programs are excellent at providing instantaneous formative feedback as well. There are always key interactions that take place between readers and text. Our traditional strategies for understanding traditional texts can still be important, but in new ways to  understand digital texts. However, do we pay as much attention to digital texts as we do to non-print texts in our classrooms and learning environments? Are the key interactions that take place between a reader and the text change based on whether a student is engaging on social media, reading an ebook, or reading a print novel?

What strategies are students using to access text online? How are they verifying information? Do students know how to look beyond the first page of a Google search? How long do they stay with text? How often are distractions occurring? Do features such as ‘dictionary’ on ereaders providing new opportunities for accessing text? Do student use these features? Blogging, texting, how are these types of text impacting reading ability? How are we measuring this, assessing it, and using it to reinforce reading skills?


With new reading habits forming from our use of ever-expanding technologies, we are faced with new opportunities and constraints as readers. We need more than those who are well versed in technologies, and need those who can bridge the gap between the technologies and the key reading skills and strategies that our students desperately need. I greatly fear that if we stray too far from those skills and strategies to focus solely on the tech, we risk losing many opportunities for our students to become excellent readers.

For instance, in the digital world we see embedded videos, hyperlinks, opportunities to share. We see non-linear reading paths, and many possible distractions, and opportunities to connect with others. We may ask ourselves as one possible inquiry, what strategies do we need to promote effective collaboration and connectivist experience that build literacy with digital texts?

The reality is that many of us in education, work in digital spaces every single day. But – are digital texts marginalized in our learning spaces? Do we need to re-consider how we teach reading skills and strategies to our students? Always, of course, being mindful of the vast experiences, interests and motivations that our students have.

A simple reality of our digital world is the fact that our reading is also non-linear. It is also not free from bias, stereotypes. Information literacy skills are very important. Students need to learn how to use these even when we are not there for them.

Aside from blogging, tweeting, reading news online, and choosing where to conduct appropriate searches, how do you harness these texts to teach key reading skills and strategies? How do you assess this?




Innovation with Relationships in Education


This morning we had the privilege of listening to George Couros speak about Innovation. This was very inspiring to me because I am passionate about knowledge building, innovation, and incorporating FNMI values, cultures and perspectives into my learning environments.

In my opinion, learning in education is also enhanced through play. Innovation can emerge through ‘Play’, and is essential for all students, including students with FNMI backgrounds. The ability for a student to meet their potential will increasingly be found within the student’s entire life. We  can incorporate this into our learning environments through creating time and space for innovation and play. Even if it is time to play with technology to create amazing things that would not be assigned in a traditional classroom.

I believe that it is increasingly essential for educators to help learners to be  pursuit of innovation. We can do this by tapping into the power of family and relationships!

Identifying Student Values

It was wonderful to hear George Couros talk about the importance of family, relationships, and connections to the people in our lives. He made excellent connections between student voice, relationships and learning.

Our students come to the classroom with values, experiences, cultures and knowledge that is essential to their learning. If we over-identify with the classroom itself as the primary environment for learning, this will marginalize other wonderful aspects of a students life. What we need is to identify and understand the values and voices of our students, and then innovate to help them integrate learning amongst all of the important knowledge, culture and experiences that they live amongst.

Educators can play a large role in by helping students connect and share their voice by:

  • Helping students to set priorities in their lives.
  • Supporting a balance between school-life and home life.
  • Facilitating learning opportunities that help students to process and examine important topics in society
  • Enabling students to identify and understand explicitly what is important to the student in his or her own life.

Promoting Personal Safety

It absolutely behooves our students to be able to reason, look at all viewpoints, consider options, and know how to ask for help. Educators can help students to set priorities, make plans, but also to be flexible and adaptable to sudden changes. For this to happen, students also need to feel safe to try new things, safe to take risks, and safe to be themselves.

Caring and dedicated Educators can be aware of, and proactive, to promoting equality and understanding within the classroom. This is essential to spurring on innovation!

Certainly, many new changes exist as our ever-changing workforce continues to change to meet new cultural norms and expectations, including globalization. The very experiences that students will face during key developmental years, will play large roles in helping our students to develop their own self-esteem, skills, and careers.

Helping children to integrate work and play together in a continuous and fluid manner is one way to achieve these goals. This is very similar to helping individuals to integrate their life roles and relationships together in innovative ways.


Thank you for a great presentation!


Deborah McCallum


What is important in Education?

What is Important in Education?


I have recently been doing some reading and listening to  John Seely Brown, and so much of what he has discussed in his work resonates with my own thought processes and inquiries right now.

As I think about how our education system needs to change in order to promote the kind of learning that our students need, I am reminded that change is omnipresent. ‘Things’ are changing so rapidly, that ‘skills’ become redundant much faster than they ever have in history. Do we move beyond the skills to focus on ‘higher’ order thinking’ and helping students to ‘learn to learn’? I now realize after watching this video, that it is much more.


Play is perhaps the most basic building block of knowledge building. Play needs imagination, and imagination needs to be cultivated through play. Through ‘play’ students get to try new things out, ask each other what works, and what doesn’t work. The teacher provides access to new resources as needed to help students along in their processes. By ‘playing’ and sharing what we are doing, as learners we are able to witness what we are all doing.. we witness each others struggle, and hopefully gaining an understanding about what we are all going through – not just as individuals. It is through ‘play’ that we enable knowledge to be learned through concrete, and not merely abstract concepts. Our imagination can be applied to tangible elements that can be experienced by all of our senses, and not just our mids. These are also important ideas that many FNMI peoples and cultures have always held dear – the concepts known to be true –that we learn best by doing and watching others – Masters and novices alike. All with a sense of ‘humility’.

In this world, humility is so important. We give credit where credit is due, and we build our own knowledge from that. We are not solely the Master of our knowledge, we are also the learners, the creators – then we quickly move on to new learning. We ‘mash-up’ the learning, and as educators, we re-purpose what we have already done in our classrooms and learning environments. We redefine and modify our learning, and expand the knowledge bases with our own creativity. Every student and group is different, therefore why would we teach the same things year after year?

Next, connections to community are important as well.  What we do should be done for the sake of building our communities and families, and built with our communities as well. What we do we share with our communities, and what we do is influenced by our communities and cultures.

Finally, Social identity can be measured in new ways in the 21st century! Social capital and identity is being reconstructed in this day in age, by what we create and share. I was very inspired by John’s assertions that our students no longer need to be identified by what their parents ‘do’ or by ‘what they make’. Students can now identify themselves by what they create – and everyone can create something important and useful and interesting – it should not have to fall into a narrow category of isolated expectations as outlined by the curriculum.

Therefore, now, I am looking beyond higher order thinking skills, and am thinking towards ‘entrepreneurial learning’ in our students. I have new inquiries to explore:

How can we help our learners to be ready to pick up new information all the time?

How can we help our learners to be active participants in their learning?

In conclusion, I will leave with some of my thoughts for promoting the kind of change we need in education in 2014:

In the 21st Century we NEED to:

  • move beyond the specific expectations of our curriculum, and focus on the overall expectations.
  • adopt a multidisciplinary approach to teaching
  • remember what many of the the First Nations Metis and Inuit cultures have always fostered: a sense of ‘interconnectedness’ among people and ideas
  • look at the structures of learning and not just the learning itself to gain true insights into future pedagogies
  • take closer looks at other models of teaching that include ‘play’
  • not make education about the technology
  • allow our learners to engage in Inquiry
  • move beyond traditional boundaries and cultivate paths of inquiry as the only paths to meaningful learning for our students
  • recognize the ecology of our learning systems
  • understand that literacy and learning takes many forms and functions – just as our physical structures do.


Reference: John Seely Brown: Tinkering as a Mode of Knowledge Production


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.

Tips for Running Blended Learning Environment with your Students



Three years ago, I embarked on a challenge to integrate FNMI knowledge and blended learning with all of the Grade 3 students in my school. I teach AQ and college courses with D2L, so how hard could it be? It was quite challenging to say the least. So challenging, I decided to put the blended learning model on hold for the past 2 years. The fact is that I spent a lot of time adding learning goals, content, and links to the Ontario Education Resource Board (OERB), yet in the end, all we really ended up being able to do was access the front ‘News’ page, and click on the links to access the wonderful online activities from the OERB. It took 15-20 minutes just to get all of the 8 year olds logged in with the laptops most days. It also was not used consistently enough to make a true impact.

However, after the recent changes that D2L has undergone to benefit students in Ontario, my recent learning from teaching higher ed, workshops and techhubs at my board, and the recent  OTRK12 conference, I will definitely be embarking on this challenge again!

Right now, I have a shell set up for my part-time role as a Teacher-Librarian and I am impressed with all of the changes that have taken place with D2L this past school year. First of all, it is more user friendly for primary students, second of all, there are more pre-made course shells for primary students that did not exist before, and finally, I now have more knowledge about how I need to change my pedagogy for it to be successful.

With this all in mind, I have created a list of tips that I believe we need to keep in mind when setting up a blended learning environment with our learners.

Tips for running a successful blended learning environment:

  • Ensure there are enough devices for all students
  • Have an explicit BYOD policy for your classroom
  • Give students ‘jobs’ to do – for instance, a ‘Tech-lead’ who will for example ‘unlock and re-lock’ the cupboard to keep personal devices safe, and take them out as needed.
  • Write contracts with students and co-create success criteria.
  • Model learning skills first!
  • Set the stage. Begin strongly with learning skills: responsibility, organization, Independent work, collaboration, initiatives, self-regulation: set success criteria, checklists, what it looks like, sounds like…
  • Focus on Assessment For/As Learning: learning goals, success criteria, descriptive feedback: students understand learning goals and success criteria of every lesson.
  • Choose the Tools you will start with. (One at a time with primary students!): ie., email, locker, blog, content, discussions, dropbox, ePortfolio – choose the ones you want to use with your students.
  • Become co-learners with your students. Let students be experts along with you. Let students learn the tools and run with it.
  • Run your classroom like a workshop. Eventually, not all students should be doing the same thing at the same time.
  • Be ready to work hard to expand your students thinking, and deepen their understanding and thought processes
  • Teach students how to disagree nicely with each other.
  • Try Flipping your classroom! If you believe in giving your primary students homework, try sending home instructional videos instead – with students ready to come to class and work through the content and processes of learning with the teacher!
  • Definitely have an open house to let your parents know all about your blended learning program!
  • Engage in your own PD through twitter, and other PLN’s, webinars etc. to get ideas of how you will implement
  • Do your best, let go of some of the control, and be ready to learn alongside your students!
  • Think about how you will integrate FNMI knowledge and culture in a blended learning model.

It is also important to remember, that implementing a blended learning environment will only be successful if we are able to adopt 21st century pedagogies that support these new types of blended learning environments.

I am still considering how I will use this to reflect student voice, and how to effectively integrate FNMI knowledge and cultures into these blended models.

What tips and strategies have you found to be successful?

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.