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My Summary of Learning!

27 Nov

Here is my Summary of Learning for EC&I 833!

I created this video using VideoScribe. You get a free trial of this tool – and as you can see with the free trial is leaves the watermark on your video. You also do not have access to most of the images provided with the free trial. Depending on cost, I would DEFINITELY look into the full version – it was super easy to use, and I enjoyed getting creative with it. I would love to have had access to the entire program. Also, because of the free trial, I couldn’t get it to download or upload to Youtube (grr), so I used Screencastify, just to record my screen, which glitched the audio a tad bit. Ohhhhh technology.. gotta love it!

Enjoy!

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1s9WSupzLnj1SQu076cz75co-Nh3thjRb/view?usp=sharing

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Assistive tech isn’t just about tech

23 Nov

This week after a great presentation on Assistive Technology by Channing, Kelsey & Haiming, we were asked to reflect upon our own experiences with assistive technology. I have to admit that this is definitely an area that I do not have much knowledge, or experience in – but I am eager to learn more!

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I found myself nodding alongside the presentation and loved all the great examples they provided – Brittany Thies’ guest appearance was so amazing! I had no idea all of the different assistive technology that students in Brittany’s classroom used, and Justine also furthered opened my eyes to these technologies in her post as she talked about her experiences working at Hope’s Home. I also loved how the group brought in a relevant local initiative that truly encompasses the heart and desire to make accessibility a priority for our community – Build Love.

I truly enjoyed reading Joe’s blog post, as he gives a personal and experience-based perspective as a current learning resource teacher who utilizes assistive technology with students daily. Many of the assistive technologies Joe mentioned have to do with supporting students in literacy. As someone who primarily teaches Phys. Ed and Math, I have had little, if any, experience with most of the assistive technology he mentioned. I have used manipulatives and calculators to support students in my math classes, but otherwise have not used a wide variety of assistive technology for numeracy. I commented on Joe’s blog asking if he had any suggestions and he mentioned a chrome extension called Equatio, which helps with writing equations online. I am looking forward to further exploring this extension, and it’s possible uses for my students.

I have supported many students with varying physical abilities in the gym, and I have always been absolutely amazed with the barriers that are broken down when students are given a chance to participate. Unified Sport has become a part of my school and many other schools with the help of Special Olympics Saskatchewan. This has given a chance for students who wouldn’t necessarily have the opportunity to play on a school sport team, a chance to not only play sports, but to play in an inclusive atmosphere with their peers who are called partners. Over the past two years of this program I have seen amazing things from our entire student body – not to mention TWO provincial championships won together. Check out this article to learn more about the amazing Unified Basketball program in our city.

Whether no tech, low tech, or high tech, as Channing breaks down on her blog examples of how assistive technology can be utilized at varying levels of technology. I found this super helpful in conceptualizing how this can look in a classroom, and also how I can best support students. As we discussed in class, what is helpful for one student is often helpful for all students and I think we can strive to make our classrooms more inclusive and mutually beneficial for all students when we think about the assistive technology ALL of our students could and should have access to. It is important to remember as our reading – and research supports “assistive technology can support the learning experiences of all students” .

I also think it is important to recognize that assistive technology doesn’t have to always be about the actual technology piece. How we create and foster inclusive environments that support learning experiences for students happens both inside and outside of the classroom – with and without technology.

Google Classroom for the win!

16 Nov

This week, we were asked to choose, and use, an assessment technology that is new to us in our classrooms. Although not new to me as a classroom productivity suite and Web 2.0 tool, I chose to focus on the assessment aspect of Google Classroom, which I have never used before.

I have been using Google Classroom in a very basic and limited way for the past couple of years. I have mostly used it in my Phys.Ed/Wellness classes to post assignments that we were working on outside of the gym, especially assignments that we were using technology for. I have found it very easy to set up, post assignments to, and I love that students can access it from anywhere if needed. Students have the ability to turn assignments in, and then I am able to easily open and assess these assignments.

However, all I have really been doing is marking them on the screen – usually while making notes on paper – and then just simply entering that mark in gradebook. When I hand back the paper copy rubric – usually not in the gym (they lose so many papers in there..) it is not timely feedback, nor do they have their assignment in front of them. Also, if students hand things in late on google classroom, after I had finished marking, I didn’t know, unless I was constantly going back and checking. As I had only been using it for single assignments – I am not going to lie, checking google classroom is something I would forget to do. This has been a major downfall of google classroom in my eyes, and honestly, I haven’t really “bought in” to using it fully.

As I happened to have an assignment set up on google classroom in the past week, I decided that I want to explore and use the assessment pieces of google classroom. My Wellness 10 students were writing a “Letter to No One” as part of our Mental Health unit. If you haven’t heard of the Understand Us – an amazing local organization in Regina which is passionate about starting and keeping going positive conversations about mental health – please please check them out!!

I have heard my English teacher colleagues speak super highly of being able to provide immediate feedback and comment and highlight right on students’ essays or other work, and I wanted to play around with feature. Once I opened up a student’s letter, I found this commentating feature super easy to do. I also found out that you could create a bank of generic comments that you can quickly enter in. How neat is that?!

Students are able to see these comments immediately, and if needed, make necessary changes or use the feedback I provided to improve in the future. This ability to provide immediate feedback is such a powerful part of assessment technology, and is one of the way technology enhances assessment as described in our required reading this week.

I also hadn’t ever actually entered the marks students received in google classroom before. By doing this, I found it not only kept google classroom more organized for me – I could see exactly who’s had been marked and who’s hadn’t – and also who handed things in after I had marked the assignment. I found that upon receiving their marks on google classroom, the next day I had more questions from students about whether they could make changes based on my feedback and resubmit, and also those who hadn’t handed it in had an urgency of completing it that I hadn’t seen before. It is clear that the timeliness of the assessment technology was impactful for both myself and the students.

I can’t even pretend that I have scratched the surface of how you can use google classroom for assessment purposes. I know you can create quizzes and polls, and I think it could be very useful for not only summative types of assessment as this, but also formative assessment. I have yet to use google classroom with my math classes, as I find students struggle to use computers with writing or completing math equations. I would be interested to hear from any math teachers who are using google classroom at the high school level for assessment!?

As I think about math especially, and formative assessment, my goal in the future is to play around more with Flipgrid. Aside from using it for our introductions in classes with Alec, I have yet to use it with my students. After reading Jana’s blog post, I am more excited than ever to introduce this to my students and use for formative assessment in my Math 9 class.

As a teacher who considers myself fairly tech savvy, and passionate about helping my students become better digital citizens, I still do have a lot of room for growth in how I use technology in my classroom for assessment. As Jana said… #assessmentgoals!

To Web and Education 3.0… and beyond!

8 Nov

So just when I think I finally have Web 2.0 down…. Web 3.0 comes flying at me. What does it all mean?!

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In my group’s presentation this week, we covered the evolution of Web 1.0 to Web 2.0. This truly marked the change of an information only web, to an interactive web in which users contribute and participate.

Image found HERE

Web 2.0 is home to many educational tools that our class had the opportunity to explore and collaborate together on how they could be used in our classrooms. There is so much potential power and the ability for Web 2.0 tools to enhance learning, but there are barriers as well such as access to technology and lack of teacher professional development in this area.

I think more in my personal life than my professional life, I am starting to see the shift from Web 2.0 to Web 3.0. The advent of social media (which I think is pretty great in a lot of ways), was a big part of Web 2.0. Not only do we have social media now, but often on my social media I see ads for things that I have just been searching for on google, or the freaky thing I swear – just talking about with friends. The personalized, individual experience for us on the internet is part of the shift to Web 3.0. Sage did a great job breaking down terms such as the Semantic Web, and the Web of Things in her blog post, and I also found this video helpful in my understanding of this complex, and at times difficult to grasp concept.

In the same way I am having a hard time fully imaging this futuristic Web 3.0, I am sure my parents struggled with the thought of finding everything you could in a library online, and being able to chat with someone overseas on video. This shift to Web 3.0 also has an impact on education that I am not entirely sure what will look like yet, but it is a concept that Jackie Gerstein explores.

The shift to Education 3.0 really involves a complete pedagogical change for most teachers, and in my mind, a complete overhaul of our current 4 wall classroom school system. Like the personalized/individualized experience Web 3.0 offers, Education 3.0 creates self-determining learners who are essentially in control of what they are learning. As Gerstein discusses, one of the barriers is teachers’ being focused on a fixed mindset instead of a growth mindset. Excuses such as not enough time, training, or needing to cover content are part of a fixed mindset in this transition to Web 3.0 – all which revolve around the teacher, not the student.

“The learner needs to be central to all teaching endeavors” (Gerstein, 2014)

Whether it is education 1.0 or 14.0, I believe we must keep the focus on the learners, but also properly support, train, and prepare teachers to meet their students needs both inside, and outside of the classroom.

Facing Off with Online Education

30 Oct

It is crazy to believe we are already at the midpoint of the semester! Honestly, where has the time gone?! My entire Master’s program has flown by, and I still find myself doubting that I will actually be done in a short 6 weeks. I am so excited!! (Below is exactly how Jana and I will be dancing when we’re done)

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As I reflect upon my program, it ties into this week’s presentation as well as our blog prompt regarding online and blended learning tools and environments. Of my 10 classes, 4 of them have been an online and/or blended format.

Before I started my program, I knew people who completed degrees via distance education programs, and I always thought I could NEVER learn that way. I am too unorganized, scattered, and to be real–a rather large procrastinator. Without a class to go to, or a professor and classmates to interact with, there would be no way I could stay on top of my work and engaged in the material. Through my experiences using Zoom and Google Drive in my EC&I 832, 830, and currently in 833 classes, as well as a blended  EADM course using URcourses which is Moodle based, I have been proven wrong!

I have very much enjoyed my experiences in online and blended classes for a variety of reasons. One of the biggest reasons is that I love the flexibility, and time it frees up in my extremely hectic schedule. Although in my experience most of my classes have still had a mandatory time for synchronized sessions, they have been shorter and I have been able to take part from the comfort of my own home, with my pup curled up on my lap! Literally, how can class get any better?! Although it’s hard to focus sometimes with cute puppy dog eyes like these staring at you…

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Another thing I have really enjoyed about my online and blended classes is my professors. Not to suck up or anything (okay, maybe kind of), but I have loved learning from and with Dr. Alec Couros for 3 of these courses. He brings an excitement and energy to each and every class on the zoom room, and is also very involved and available to support and help students on Twitter, by email, and in our class Google Plus community. The relationships that he builds with students in an online format is just as important as the relationships any teacher must build at any level of schooling, in any format to be effective.

As I have mentioned in past posts, I am a relationships person and teacher through and through. The relationships I am able to build with my students through our face to face interactions every day are paramount to the level I am able to engage them in my classroom. When I think about how schools and education is changing, I often worry about how my role is going to change, and honestly, how my love for my job might change. Will I still love going to work and meeting students, learning about their lives, and building relationships if there is now a screen between me and those students?

As a graduate student, with a higher level of maturity, and educational experience under my belt, I feel I am more equipped to manage my own learning, and connect to my professors and classmates in an online space. Are high school students able to manage their learning in the same way, and can they make those same connections and thrive without face to face support? I also worry about many of our students who are behind in literacy skills, or who are new to Canada and do not have the same language skills as other peers their age. Student readiness, differing group stages of development, and limited language skills are all reported as limitations of online learning in one study shared as a required reading this week.

In the future I can see more schools offering electives or perhaps advanced placement courses in an online or blended format in an effort to provide more opportunities for students. I can also see the power of online learning for students who are suffering from various health issues or who might be high level athletes training, who would highly benefit from the flexibility of time and place. Tools like Google Classroom are a great start that many teachers, including myself, are utilizing with students that create an online environment and also moves toward a more connectivist approach, as Adam also mentioned in his post.

Although limitations exist, I do see vast benefits in online learning environments, and there are so many tools that I have yet to explore. I am excited for what the future holds in education and the gap that these tools and environments can begin to close. I do hope that relationships will continue to matter for teachers that may begin to shift from the physical classroom to the virtual classroom, as this I truly feel relationships are a vital component of student engagement. I hope to continue to work with students in a face to face manner as I feel that is where my strengths lie, and that there will always be students who need that connection, support, and interaction for at least a portion of their high school career before they are ready to brave the world of online learning on their own.

 

Balanced Tasking

26 Oct

This week, we were asked to watch and reflect upon this video regarding our societal focus and thus arising issues surrounding multi-tasking. As someone who has always considered myself a master multi-tasker…

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Image found HERE.

…I found myself taking a step back to truly think about my own productivity, and how the internet and all of its’ distractions has affected what I am able to accomplish in my work and personal life.

I thought about taking a picture of my current internet browser, my computer  desktop, and even my physical desk at work to show the chaos that I live most of my time in. I’m going to save myself the embarrassment from photo evidence, but share that I have many tabs open in my internet browser, 10-15 Microsoft word documents and PDF files on my computer and sticky notes clutter my desktop with various to-do list items. Not to mention the stacks of marking, paper to-do lists, and I don’t even know how I accumulate half of the other piles of paper. But what I know would be an organizational nightmare for others… seemingly doesn’t bother me. I never lose anything (somehow), and it all gets done. But am I actually productive, or wasting time?

Between being a busy teacher, grad student, basketball coach, and trying to fit in a workout or hangout with friends, time is a valuable commodity to me. I often try to be schedule my time efficiently – thus I am always multi-tasking, as I feel like I am “getting more done.” Kyla shared this article on Twitter, which specifically discussed a part of multi-tasking called context switching, which is switching between unrelated tasks. I am super guilty of this! Not only will I be switching from different tasks on my computer, but I will be doing something completely different on my phone at the same time. As it turns out, I am probably getting even less done because of this.

I constantly have my work email open on my computer, and when I am doing other tasks unrelated to work – say writing this blog post – and I receive an email, I instantly stop writing this blog and feel the need to check it and/or respond. One of the suggestions from the article involved having a designated time to check email instead of constantly, which is something I could easily try, especially as I am focusing on one specific task like writing a blog post. I have the same problem with checking my phone if I hear it go off or vibrate, so I have honestly forced myself to leave my phone in another room at times when I feel myself struggling to concentrate on a particular task.

Although I can put my phone away for an hour or two, one thing I can’t really change is the constant replaying of tasks to complete or things coming up that plays on a loop in my head. Even if I want to escape multi-tasking, I am not sure without some significant work I can really turn this off. I really like in the video when he says that “tabs are a metaphor for life“, and that if we could just be completely present at anything in our life, perhaps we would be better at that thing. There are more and more emerging ideas and tips to improve our mindfulness, and being present are areas we must focus on in regards to our personal wellness and mental health.

When I think of mental health, and how it ties to multi-tasking, I can’t help but think of digital distraction. We spend countless hours on our phones, and I know for myself especially, I can be sucked into the vortex of time-wasting and endless scrolling. I don’t think that is a reason to throw our phones away or delete our social media (although taking a break can be healthy and needed). I think we need to focus more explicitly on digital health and wellness. There are many places we can start, and following the advice of the digital resolutions in this article, some of the things I have done include turning off notifications for various apps like Instagram and Facebook, and taking a closer look at managing my time. I love that Apple has many ways we can do this and keep incorporating more features into their new operating systems.

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I think being aware and reflecting on our current practice is a great place to start in terms of breaking free of multi-tasking overload. If I am able to make some even small changes that keep my focused on a specific task, and perhaps see my productivity increase, I think it could continue to make these changes and/or shift my mindset. Although, one of the things I enjoy most about blogging is the social writing aspect. I love that I get to read what other people write, and that I can comment, pingback, and build off their ideas. When I blog I always have Twitter, our EC&I 833 blog hub, our weekly plans from Alec, giphy, and usually multiple other tabs with links to other articles as well. This is what helps inspire me, and makes the process enjoyable – and also clearly involves multi-tasking to some degree. Maybe there is a balance between single and multi-tasking that can be reached to harness peak productivity. Could balanced-tasking be even better than single or multi-tasking?

Smartphone Street

16 Oct

This week, we are asked to reflect upon a quote from Postman: “…We now know that “Sesame Street” encourages children to love school only if school is like “Sesame Street.” Which is to say, we now know that “Sesame Street” undermines what the traditional idea of schooling represents.”

When I first started thinking about this prompt, and reflecting on Joe, Kyla, Michael and Sam‘s presentation on AV technology, my mind instantly went to engagement, which is a hot topic in education right now. Like Adam and Scott mentioned in their blog posts this week, I also thought about the “utopia” that Sesame Street portrays of what learning is about. On Sesame Street everyone loves learning, loves each other, and are ultimately engaged and connecting to learning in the beautiful world around them. It’s fun!

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There have been many educational TV shows that I remember watching over the years – sometimes in school, sometimes at home. Bill Nye the Science guy, Popular Mechanics for Kids, and Degrassi (the original of course!) were some of my favorite TV shows, that I definitely can say I learned a lot from. I still to this day incorporate Degrassi episodes into my Health & Wellness classes as they cover real life, teenage health issues in a captivating and honest way. Many of these shows – and other educational TV, do show school and learning as a positive thing, and “gives teachers the chance to stimulate each child’s learning process with a combination of pictures, sounds and attention grabbing media”, as described in our reading this week on the importance of AV technology.

But as I started to dive further into our prompt and think about “the grander implications of the current array of AV technologies, such as apps and interactive educational shows, when we think about the format of schooling? How do personalized devices and tools like YouTube (Khan Academy, Crash Course, etc) change the way we might think about school,” I realized that this is so much bigger than technology increasing engagement in our classrooms. Technology is actually changing what our classrooms are – and will be.

Is physically going to school going to remain important? Obviously my answer is yes it should, but to others this may be no longer be if they can get everything they need online, through smartphones, educational TV, etc. Apps like Google Classroom have made it easier for students to catch up when they miss school – but on the flipside, have also made it easier to miss. Opportunities for remote learning are definite pros of AV technology, and I can speak from experience how powerful my classes with Alec have been in which Zoom has been the technology that has brought us all together to learn, and contribute simultaneously from different places. But is the ability to learn remotely a pro for elementary and high school aged learners? Are more distance education programs going to pop up and begin to change the traditional way of school? And how about for students who struggle with transiency, social skills, or perhaps mental health or addiction issues – could these distance education programs supported through AV technology  help them further their education in a way traditional school currently may not be?

I’m not sure what exactly what the answers to these questions are, or what these implications mean. As I think about a push for BYOD – are we actually pushing for smartphones/the internet/apps to be our teachers? If my student is struggling to understand math the way I explain it, and I suggest they go on Khan Academy and they understand it better… how does that change the role of school in that student or family’s minds? How does that change the relationship between the student and teacher? Are teachers actually still needed face to face? Or at all?

I’ve shared this TED talk before in this past blog post, and I cannot stop watching it, or getting behind the ideas Rita Pierson presents. Relationships matter.

 

I truly feel that the relationships we build with students have far more impact on their learning than any engaging technology can have. We need to continue to build relationships with our students and technology – by purposeful, authentic, and genuine use that enhances the learning experience. Apps like SeeSaw, do a great job of building relationships and connections between home and school in an engaging way. In this ever-changing technological world, we need to strive to build these relationships as well as meaningfully teach students about what it means to be a good digital citizen. If you’ve ever read anything of mine, I know I sound like a broken record, but digital citizenship should be at the forefront of our smartphone using (and sometimes abusing) students.

I really like what Jana said in her post this week:

“In this digital age, changing the way we think about school means shifting our view of teaching and learning from something that takes place within four walls to something that extends beyond them.”

The technology at our students fingertips is powerful – we need to teach students to harness that power for good. The relationships that we create with students are even more powerful – it is these relationships that build the foundations for students to take a step beyond the four walls schooling traditionally presents.