Last week! And what a week it has been! I am greatly thankful for the snow day(s) we had, because it’s the ONLY way I got all my assignments completed on time! I have enjoyed this course a lot. I have gained so many great resources to use in my classroom.
Bryce Ridgen. Bryce is the principal of Minnedosa collegiate and he was a guest speaker in our class on Tuesday. In his school each student has his/her own device (which is often called a 1:1 school). He seemed to have integrated technology well into his classroom/school!
Bryce talked about SAMR. It’s the different levels of incorperating technology into your classroom. For more information, click on the link!
I was intrigued by his Skills/Concepts vs. Content theory. Bryce said that he threw out all the content of some of his courses, and simply marked the skills and concepts. It is the higher level thinking. Throughout the year he just kept assessing his students over and over about the skills and concepts. He’d revisit concepts with a growth mindset, clear objectives, scaffold higher level thinking, and most importantly he challenged his students.
No matter where you turn, everybody is advocating that collaboration and technology are the future of education. Bryce was no different. He spoke a lot about creating a culture of collaboration. I’ve always struggled with this. I am an independent learner. I am terrible at group work. It’s great when everybody is on the same page, but more often than not, that’s not the case. Right now in one of my courses we’re working on a group project, and let me tell you, it’s been disastrous (in my opinion). I’d be long done if I could have done it on my own. I liked what Bryce said about group work though. He has his students research as a group and then take the information and use it on their own. It’s such a great idea! I also like the idea of having them work on the project using Google Drive so that you can see what everybody has contributed.
Bryce encourages his students to use social media. His students have connected with olympians, politicians, athletes through Twitter. We live in a global community, and through social media our students can take advantage of that in the classroom! He encouraged us to try things that make us nervous. He uses Snapchat filters in his classroom. The filters, but not the app. I like that.
Bryce has redefined summative assessment. He gives his students so much choice by differentiating, fostering creativity, incorporating his students interests, and creating depth of understanding. He encouraged us to be deliberate and have our students use media to enhance their message. He also advocated to have students publish their work so its visible to a larger audience, create original content, and layer multiple forms of media to create more depth.
Think about the product rather than the tool.
This is a great example of a Bryce’s students incorporating their interests into an assignment! It’s original. It’s creative. You can see that the students had fun doing this!
The Future of Education. I believe the future of education has many amazing opportunities in store for educators and students! We have advanced technology that we can bring into our classrooms, not only to help students succeed, but to make learning exciting, fun, and stimulating! The two main changes revolve around collaboration and technology.
Collaboration. Collaborative learning is becoming more common in classrooms and schools, with technology as an important facilitator. Research has shown that learning is a social construct. This is not only beneficial to students, but teachers can also work together globally to create a better learning environment for their students. As an education student I am benefiting greatly from this trend. Through Twitter I am following teachers who are doing amazing things in their classroom. I can see what they are doing in their classroom, learn from them, and incorporate their ideas into my own teaching. Monica Burns, who I wrote about in my podcast blog, sent a reply to a question I had about her work on Twitter! The possibilities are almost endless!
Technology. With the introduction and implementation of technology into classrooms, the roles of educators is changing. Teachers are no longer providing expert-level knowledge to constructing learning environments. Anybody who owns a device that connects to the internet can find an answer to most basic questions in seconds. Teachers should rather act as guides and mentors to students. They should model responsible global citizenship and motivate students to adopt lifelong learning habits by providing opportunities for students to direct their own learning.
Challenges. Collaboration and technology will not solve all problems in education, but rather if not utilized properly, can increase them. Creating authentic learning experiences and rethinking the roles of teachers are seen as solvable problems. In fact, many educators have already embraced these changes. Two of the more difficult challenges are advancing digital equity and scaling teaching innovations. Digital equity refers to unequal access to high-speed broadband, which ties in with the issue of social justice. If not all students have the same access to technology, it creates unfair learning opportunities among students.
I’m exciting about the direction education is going. I know that I will have students in my classroom that know a lot more about certain things that I do. I am completely ok with that! I want to help students with tasks they find challenging. I want to help students embrace their strengths and use them to become what they want to be. It’s definitely a challenge, but I’m up for it!
This week flew by rather quickly! I can’t believe there are only 2 more weeks of class left before we begin our next placement.
On Tuesday we had a guest speaker in our class, John Finch. He is the coordinator for the Learning Support and Technology Unit of Manitoba Education. Rather than have a presentation, he opened the floor for questions. I wasn’t exactly sure who he was, so I wasn’t sure what to ask him. Everybody else seemed familiar with him, which was great!
He talked to us about some of the do’s and don’ts of using technology in our classroom. I had no idea that we were not allowed to use public radio in our classrooms … or maybe I misunderstood. I find that odd. I’d understand that we’re not allowed to record anything and use it in class, but not to be able to use a live radio broadcast is really strange. Does that apply for podcasts as well then?
I wish I could find a great replacement for textbooks! I dislike them, but feel that sometimes for math and science they’re the only option. As a young, inexperienced teacher I don’t have the resources to pick and choose what to use for teaching. I guess over time I’ll be able to take what I need from various locations, but for now, I find textbooks best. Of course I don’t use them all the time either, but still …
Videos in the Classroom. I can’t say which specific video I would ever use in my classroom, because I have no idea what my future classroom will look like or what needs my students will have. One website that has videos that I know I will use in my classroom is Khan Academy. This website helped me survive some of my University math courses!
Khan Academy. If you’ve never visited their website, I strongly encourage you to do so. Khan Academy was founded by Sal Khan, a Bangladeshi-American educator. He has produced over 6,500 video lessons focusing on mathematics and sciences. His YouTube channel has over 2.9 million subscribers and his videos have over 1 billion views. The website is more than just videos though. Khan Academy offers practice exercises, instructional videos, and a personalized learning dashboard that empowers students to study at their own pace in and outside of the classroom.
Khan in the Classroom. There are many ways Khan Academy can be used in the classroom. Ideas:
Use the videos for instruction in the classroom
Have the videos available for students if you (or they) feel they need extra practice
Have students create an account and give marks for their progress
Connect Khan Academy with Google Classroom (Here’s how)
Flipped Classroom. My ultimate goal for math is to create a flipped classroom, and with Khan Academy I can see that happening! A flipped classroom is when the lecture and homework of a course are reversed. Short video lectures are viewed by students at home before theclass session, while in-class time is devoted to exercises, projects, or discussions. Students can easily watch short lectures at home, rather than completing practice questions based on in-class lectures. If they don’t know how to do a certain question, they won’t be able to complete the assignment. Watching videos does not require much (if any) assistance. I know there are some issues that can arise such as students coming to class without having viewed the lecture, but I feel that if they are motived by this concept, this would not be a regular occurrence. It’s definitely something I hope to try one day!
Student Created Videos. Students could create their own videos in the classroom. Staying with the math theme, rather than writing a test, students could create an instructional video about a certain math theme. Videos could also be used for research projects, where students create a video about a certain topic. The options are endless, we just have to allow ourselves to embrace them.
Allowing students to post personal videos on YouTube would depend on a variety of factors. First of all, the students would have to be willing. Second, their parents would have to agree. Third, the school would have to be open to the idea. I would also make sure there is no personal information on the videos such as their home location. I would make sure the parents have seen the video, and have agreed to have the specific video posted. I wouldn’t just have them agree to posting all videos in general. It’s better to be safe. I liked what Daniel Dillon said about involving parents in the technology you use in school. The more open you are to them, the more accepting they will be (I feel).
Podcasts. I’ve been a huge fan of podcasts since I got my first iPod many many years ago. I was always amazed that they were free! One of the first ones I listened to was the Vinyl Cafe with Stuart McLean. From there I branched out to others such as HowStuffWorks, Under the Influence, TEDtalks, This American Life, and Ask me Another among others.
Talks with Teachers. When I went through the tech tasks at the beginning of the course and saw that we had to do a blog on podcasts so I went to look for one related to tech and teaching. I subscribed to a few teacher podcasts and found Talks with Teachers. This is a podcast by Brian Sztabnik, a high school English teacher in New York. His two main goals for this podcast are to offer the most inspiring ideas from the best teachers in America, and help teachers get better at what they do. Brian also has a blog and twitter chats where he talks about the real problems teachers face in everyday classrooms and tries to find practical solutions for these problems.
Monica Burns. In his latest episode he talked with Monica Burns. Monica is an EdTech and Curriculum Consultant, Apple Distinguished Educator and has her own website and blog ClassTechTips. She hosts webinars, contributes to Edutopia. In her interview with Brian Sztabnik she said, “We need to think about creating quality interactions with technology, not just screen time.” I agree wholeheartedly with that. Many of our students will spend quite a bit of time watching movies, playing games etc. at home. We shouldn’t be contributing to their screen time at school for the sake of using technology. Monica talks about using technology in our classrooms to do things not possible without. For example, if we have our students doing math on the computer, we should make sure it’s meaningful and not just something they could do without technology. She also talked about Google Classrooms, Google 360 and Virtual Reality which are great ways to use technology to enrich our classrooms.
Podcasting Ideas for the classroom. Students can use and create podcasts for a variety of topics/subjects in school. Some ideas are:
Students can interview people and combine it into a video project
Students write a radio drama based on a historical event and record their show (complete with commercials)
The teacher could record a tutorial, that students can listen to on their own
As a class, present student writing through a class radio drama or a poetry slam.
Create/run radio shows
I hope to use podcasts in my future classroom. I feel it can be an exciting way for students to have their voices heard. So much time is focused on writing, and it is important. But in today’s world media is so much more than writing!
Infographics. An infographic is basically just a visual image used to represent data. Great infographics can be very useful in that they convey a lot of information in a little space that can be easily interpreted.
Classroom Use. I like the idea of using infographics in the classroom. I wouldn’t only create them myself, but I feel it could be a great learning experience to have students create one themselves. There are some great sites available that have neat templates, but there are some students who would enjoy using Photoshop or inDesign to create one entirely by themselves. I find that many teachers have great resources hanging on their wall, but they never refer to them, or even explain them to students. Infographics on the wall may look good, but are pointless if not used.
Infographics can help students understand important, but complicated concepts. In grade 2 students are already learning about the water cycle and for students who struggle with the science language (such as EAL students) using infographics could be very beneficial.
Infographics about world issues such as pollution would also be great for the classroom.
I was playing around with Piktochart to create an infographic. Using their templates, it was quite easy to piece something together.
I have divided my learning networks into 5 groups; Projects, Social Bookmarking, Online Communication, Entertainment, and Social Media.
Projects. In this category I have included the different platforms I use to work on any projects that I have going on. Dropbox and Google Drive are great for sharing many documents with people. For example, if I’m working on a group project for a course, we would just create a dropbox folder, invite everybody to that folder, and then everybody has access to all the information needed. These websites have apps that can be used on most devices that automatically update when you open them. I have also included my blog in this because in the past few months it’s become a place for me to post valuable websites, ideas, information that I hope to use in the future (or make other people aware of this information).
Online Communication. It seems that so much of our communication is done online these days. On a personal level: my family is spread out across NA and I rarely get to see some of my brothers and sisters. Being able to connect with them daily online is great! On an educational level: most communication websites also have the option of creating group chats. I have quite a few of those and it’s great to simply post a question have other people with the same interests help you. For example, we have a WhatsApp chat group for most Hutterites here at Brandon University. It’s great to have that connection with friends! In the future I hope to connect more personally to other educators and have a group related directly to teaching! Zoom and Skype can be used to invite guest speakers into our classrooms, as we have already experienced in this class.
Entertainment. This is part of my personal and professional PLN. I use Spotify for most of my music. I use iTunes for my podcasts. I subscribe to about 10 different podcasts that generally have 1 episode a week. I find that this is a great way to stay up-to-date on many current issues/trends happening in the world. I have included some of the educational ones I subscribe to. I use websites/apps such as The Score for sports updates.
Social Media. I feel that this has been talked about quite a bit in this course. Twitter and Facebook are great tools to connect with people. They provide a great opportunity to not only access new information, but for individuals to share information as well. You can comment on, react, and share information, resources and documents with others.
Wrap up. My PLN seems quite limited at the moment. I hope to keep building on to it and keep develop it. As educators we can never stop learning. We always have to make an effort to find new and innovative ideas for our classrooms.
A bit of a unique post for me. I wasn’t in class this week and instead of writing about the presenters I wasn’t there to see, I’ll write about my week.
WestCAST. WestCAST (Western Association for Student Teaching) is an education conference held annually by the Faculties of Education in the western provinces of Canada. This year it was in Nanaimo British Columbia on Vancouver Island. There were over 400 students and faculty memebers together engaging in conversations that are relevant in today’s world of teaching.
Shelley Moore. Shelley was one of the keynote speakers who talked about inclusion and special education in classrooms. She gave many everyday scenarios that we think are inclusion classrooms, but in reality are not. This video she made about her PhD focus is a fantastic 3-minute summary of her talk.
Escape Rooms. I’ve always liked the concept of escape rooms. The puzzles. The techniques. I went to a session by Charlotte Dobson from the University of Winnipeg where she talked about encorperating escape rooms into her classroom. (She did this during her placement). She then divided us into groups and we all had the opportunity to participate in one of the escapes she had set up during one of her placements. I definitely want to do this in my classroom. I feel that it could be a fantastic summative assessment for a unit!
Thinking outside the books. This was a session by Peter Bjornson that encouraged us as teachers to think outside the books. He challenged us to take some risks and create lesson plans to engage students in experiential learning. His focus was on history. To get his students to catch a glimpse of homelessness he had them build their own shelters by gathering material from around town (Gimli). He also created an archeological dig site for his students in his backyard. He shared many more. In the end he asked us what we noticed about all of these activities…none of them required any technology. I liked that. We focus a lot of time on how to use technology in our classrooms, but it’s hands on activities like these that create great learning experience as well. It’s all about balance.