Stop, Collaborate & Listen

When Alec asked us to blog about the “socialization of learning” the lyrics “Stop, Collaborate & Listen” came to mind. Do you know what song I am thinking of?

How are teachers creating and encouraging interactions for and with our students which is an essential part of learning?

The article by Bates described Online Collaborative Learning(OCL) as a particular form of constructivist teaching where learning is defined as conceptual change and is key to building knowledge.

How have I encouraged and supported this kind of learning in my own classroom?

First of all I try to develop a “community of learners” through a variety of team building activities at the beginning of the year. Then I allow my students many opportunities to collaborate on assignments and projects throughout the year. I use Google Classroom as my LMS and students can make comments to each other or about assignments using that platform. I have also incorporated a classroom Twitter account which you may follow “YQRClassroom” where students create the tweets about what is happening in our classroom.

OCL includes three key phases of knowledge construction:

  • Idea generating
  • Idea organising
  • Intellectual convergence

When reflecting on the first online module that I created for Human Body Systems, I provided the purpose for compiling information in a group work scenario but I see now how I would like to provide opportunities for more discussion and peer to peer feedback not just teacher to student feedback.

The OCL model definitely has me thinking about how I currently use the LMS because of it’s convenience but I wonder how I can create opportunities for transformative learning that develop the essential skills like critical thinking, analytical thinking, synthesis and evaluation in my students? I will keep this in mind as I develop the second module for online learning.

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Feed Forward

This week we have been asked to review the feedback from our first module and decide how we will use this for our second module. I would, first of all, like to thank my peers who took the time to review and examine my first module on the Respiratory System which was a topic I chose to do from grade 5 Science. I used Google Classroom as my LMS to set up the activities which most reviewers could easily navigate through. I like to call this process “feed-forward” instead of “feedback” as I am reflecting on their constructive criticism and deciding how it will impact the product of my next module.

The feedback that I received was overwhelmingly positive! Some of the positive comments included:

  • easy layout and easy to navigate for teachers and Grade 5 students
  • allowed for many different activities that target many different learning styles
  • Google Classroom was a good fit for this type of course
  • matched curricular outcomes for this grade level
  • lessons moved in a logical order
  • many opportunities for students to try new things both independently and in group work scenarios
  • variety of assessments will be used that will help students be successful

There were only a few comments that targeted an area I could improve on.

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A comment was made that there was not a lot of opportunity for teacher-student interaction but that would be through the feedback both during and after assignments are worked on in Google Classroom. I love this feature of Google Classroom and recommend that after the student submits an assignment the teacher gives feedback then “returns it” to the student where the student can make changes then resubmit their assignments for a final mark. This is how a teacher can impact the learning of their students and truly an example of “feed forward”.

There was also a comment about how the second module would be separated from the first one and this was something I needed to adjust so I made the “Respiratory System” a topic that all the activities were attached to and will do the same for my second module “Circulatory System” which should create separate sections within Google Classroom. That was good thinking!!

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Looking forward to creating my second module the difficulty lies in being consistent for the learners’sake but yet trying out new features for online learning. It would be easy to find new content using the same tools as I used before such as Edpuzzle, Khan Academy and Quizlet BUT I would like to challenge myself by creating the content instead of just finding pre-made materials online produced by others.

Thank you Alec for this experience of not only creating online learning opportunities but also being able to see the products of our peers. This has been an invaluable experience for me and I can’t wait to get my own class using the modules I have created!

 

Kids CAN Code

This week’s blog post was to explore something you are interested in to further develop your understanding. SO with an upcoming session booked with KidsCodeJeunesse I decided to look into “Coding in the Classroom”.

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Why should students learn to code? It teaches them problem-solving skills and computational thinking skills. Where can educators learn more and get started? There are a TON of resources out there regarding Coding which I found but here are a couple places to start learning about what teachers can do and resources to use in the classroom from Edutopia and Common Sense Education.

What I have used for the past few years is “Hour of Code” using the activities here. Students LOVE these game-like experiences and often do not even realize they are creating computer programs. If you have never heard of “Hour of Code” you can check out this introduction video:

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The session today incorporated computer programming online using this site then added micro: bits which the kids really enjoyed seeing them light up when they were connected to the Chromebook using the program that they created.

This article for parents even states that children as young as 4 or 5 years old can learn coding skills even before they can spell and write words. There are some ideas of where you can start to expose kids to figure out the concept of computer programming without them even knowing it!! The fact is that by learning to code kids are problem-solving and developing computational skills that I think are invaluable for the future.

What do YOU think? Have you had any experiences coding with your students in your classroom? Have I inspired you to try it?

Screencastify Review

In this week’s class, Alec shared a few of the tools out there for online “instruction creation”. There are SO many tools and more added all the time so we can’t be expected to be an expert at all of them BUT is there is a tool that can be used to provide meaningful instruction in an engaging way? This also needs to be easy enough for both the instructor to learn how to use and the student to utilize as well.  I decided to explore the Chrome extension Screencastify to find out more about its features and how I think it could be used in the classroom. There is an easy to follow video about how to set up here.

Basically, Screencastify can be used to record your screen and your voice(or your own image with a webcam) so you can either create the content(slideshow, GoogleDoc, etc) then record yourself talking about it or you can find the content on the web and use it to capture the screen. There is also this helpful video I found which takes you through the steps to record your first video:

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In the chapter from this week’s reading byTony Bates entitled 7.1 Thinking about the pedagogical differences of media

 He suggested these 5 critical questions to ask about teaching and learning in order to select and use appropriate media/technologies:

  • what is my underlying epistemological position about knowledge and teaching?
  • what are the desired learning outcomes from the teaching?
  • what teaching methods will be employed to facilitate the learning outcomes?
  • what are the unique educational characteristics of each medium/technology, and how well do these match the learning and teaching requirements?
  • what resources are available?

These questions should not only be asked before using technology but while using it as well as reflecting on it after the fact.

What is one tool that every teacher should know about?

Mix, Stir & Blend

What is the recipe for learning in today’s world?

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The instructor needs to mix up the delivery with a variety of instructional practices, nobody likes being lectured to from the front of the room day after day, do they?!? We know there are better ways to not only deliver content but to engage learners. A variety of instructional strategies which include using technology I believe creates a learning environment that is engaging and rewarding for both teachers and students.

Speaking of the learner, what responsibility do they have about their learning?

Students need to stir in their focus, interest and creativity to make online learning effective. In Dean’s blog, he had a good point about the drawbacks of online education and instructors can provide the most wonderful program online that gives the flexibility to their learners but you can’t always motivate the unmotivated. Some students will continue to choose to do the bare minimum to pass the class. To say that technology engages learners is not always true. Technology is a tool and needs to be used properly and with a purpose.

This is the recipe for effective blended & online learning that meets the needs of today’s learners.

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In my own practice, I have been using Google Apps, now referred to as GSuite, for years and have incorporated Google Classroom to post assignments that students can access from both home and school. This management system also makes it easy to see assignments that have been submitted so you can mark them and give students feedback on their assignments as well. In a previous class with Alec, my project was to find new tools that can be integrated with Google Classroom and you can check here for my review of EdPuzzle   I would highly recommend incorporating this in your practice if you incorporate videos into your lessons and are looking for a different way that students can submit their responses to them.

I think it is very important for teachers to continue to learn new tools that help improve learning. I have incorporated some form of technology throughout my entire teaching career, I even had my class sign up for e-mail accounts back when I interned in 1999. It surprises me to hear about the lack of tech use when we have increased access to tech with BYOD policies in my school board but I know the answer to why this is so, is that teachers need to make the time to learn something new. I am hearing about how more teachers are incorporating Seesaw into their classrooms to communicate with parents and to create a learning portfolio which I have not explored yet. I have used the app Remind for years now to communicate with parents but would benefit from a tool that can show the progression of learning that each student makes throughout the school year.

After reading the chapters from Teaching in a Digital Age by Tony Bates, a term that was new to me that creates a mixture of face-to-face and online learning was hybrid learning. The idea of losing all face-to-face contact in a completely online course where sometimes is necessary for some instances like distance education also loses the social idiosyncrasies of physically being in the same room. I also agree that education being more open leads to an increase in both the opportunities but also the decisions that instructors need to make. I would like to learn more about the options for online and blended learning and will have to reflect at the end of this course how my beliefs have changed.

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Guess who’s back?? Back again……


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Here I am signed up for my 7th Master’s course and my 3rd online course with Alec. I am excited to learn more about online & blended learning throughout this course. I teach grade 5 with Regina Public Schools and have been teaching for 18 years-Wowzers, where did the time go?!?! I am interested in hearing about new tools that I could use to engage my students and how to help them learn in new & exciting ways. I look forward to seeing what modules my classmates will develop to enlighten me on current practices for online & blended learning in today`s world. I hope that I can put some of the ideas I learn into my own practice to meet the needs of my students and improve their 21st-century skills. Feel free to follow me here on this blog and on Twitter to see how this journey unfolds.

Your Opinion Matters

The Great Debate is over and I have finished another graduate course on my journey towards my Masters in Education-woohoo!!

Thank you Alec for another inspiring online course but with a different format, which definitely got me thinking and questioning my own opinions.

To my fellow classmates, thank you for your support during this course and your awesome debate skills.

Check out my Summary of Learning:

 

 

 

 

Can Tech Make the World More Fair?

At first, I was thinking “YES” I agree that technology can bring equity to anyone in the world but the “Disagree” side did a great job of making me question what I was originally thinking-that’s what these debates have been good for, right?!

My Pre-Vote thoughts were that technology can “even out the playing field” between men and women, and young and old. Using technology can give each of us a voice no matter what your status in society is, people can still equally use technology to connect with anyone else around the globe. I did question the usefulness of having such equal power in the world and how “anybody can be a somebody” and the impact that is having on society but nevertheless the “Agree” side presented inspiring information like this article about Open Educational Resources that are helping to improve the access to education in remote parts of the world.

The “Agree’ side also pointed out that more access to education is happening like what Daphne Koller describes in her TedTalk. I love the idea of having free access to quality education to alleviate the idea that higher education is only for the privileged. The key is to make online learning a “real class experience” with active learning that still includes due dates and results. She talks about how online learning uses a community of learners to give feedback much like what we have done during this course.

The “Disagree” side made some good points and what really made me think was when they stated that “technology perpetuates the idea of men’s dominance over women” in their debate. This article states that “technology reflects the problems that exist in society-including the oppression of women”. I had never thought about this before?! Why are the voices of Siri and Alexa female? And if we have evidence to show that abusers are using technology to harass women then why aren’t products being made to eliminate this? Will technology continue to reflect the issues in society or does it have the power to change them?

I had previously never heard of the idea of “Digital Colonialism” and was enlightened to hear that Facebook offered a “Free Basics” app to places around the globe that may have limited internet service but I was saddened to read this article that describes this service that “turns the user into a mostly passive consumer of mostly western corporate content”. What about knowing who you are marketing this platform to and realizing how it could be used effectively by the user? It made me think of McDonald’s in other countries and how they adapted to meet the needs of the people in the countries they are serving. McDonald’s doesn’t serve beef or pork in its locations in India but it’s still a “westernized” version of the traditional food there. How is technology adapting to meet the needs of the consumers in other countries?

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What do you think? Is Technology helping people from around the world be more equal?

Back to the Future

Is Social Media ruining childhood?

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When we look at the past generations we can see that the generation before it always believes that the next “big thing” is ruining their childhood? Weren’t we taught that different isn’t always bad? Can’t this generation have different interests without believing that their childhood is ruined? We can’t use a time machine and travel to the future, so why do we judge the current lifestyle based on the past?

Kids today have been born into a fast-paced ever-changing world where being innovative and adaptable are must have skills. We are connected and accessible ALL of the time and instead of only knowing what is happening in your own neighbourhood, we can now view the lives of the famous and unfamous through Social Media apps like Snapchat, YouTube etc. One could argue that this generation is more connected with the happenings in the world than the generations of the past.

Now on the flip side of this is the argument that if the youth of today are using too much Social Media then what are they missing? I feel like this is where the comparison of what “used to be” comes into play….when I grew up we played outside more….we used to play board games as a family…..etc. The Agree side of the debate would say that Social Media is directly related to Cyberbullying on the rise.  Cyberbullying: Identification, Prevention &  Response has some good ideas on how parents can monitor their child’s Social Media better. I also questioned during the discussion about where students are developing their self-worth. Are they comparing themselves to unrealistic “role models” online who are affecting their self-esteem?

This article about the hot topics in Edtech reveals that Digital Citizenship is changing and instead of the focus being on warning students about risks online the idea is how to help students to use the “power of digital media to work toward creation, social justice and equity”: Shelly describes in her post Uncharted Territory about how her students are finding their voice on Social Media to seek advocacy with issues that are important to them. I loved hearing about how today’s youth are not only embracing Social Media but using it to evoke change.

What do you think, is Social Media ruining childhood or has childhood changed with the times?

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