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……


https://giphy.com/

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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To share or not to share?

Didn’t we all learn at a young age to share?

When is it NOT the right thing to do?

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Well in this week’s debate the teams presented their arguments For or Against “Openness and sharing in our schools is unfair to our kids”. I have thought about this topic before as I have had a “Class Blog” for the past few years where I would post photos of students during various activities at school in order for parents to see what was happening in our class. This article shared from the “Agree” side brings up some ideas about the ownership of the photos that teachers or even parents are taking at school events. My school division requires us to get a “Media Release” signed by the parents of our students but does that document cover ALL of the possible ways that “Media” is being used on a daily basis? Who has the right to share images or the work without the actual owners’ permission? When do we ask students if they want us to post it?

This also made me think about if we have the right to build a students’ digital footprint without getting their permission? This article shared from the “Disagree” side had some great tips on how to create a positive digital identity online. From knowing your rights to modelling appropriate online behaviour with your students. This sounds easy enough, right? I think what educators really need to consider is the purpose of posting the picture. What is it they want parents(or the rest of the world) to know about their classroom or their teaching philosophy? Are they posting this for educational purposes? Are we using “Social Media” to increase our own notoriety? Next time you are about to post something, ask yourself why?

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As the increase of sharing apps like Remind or Seesaw have become more popular, this has changed my philosophy on the sharing of photos and information. I feel that apps like Remind or Seesaw have improved the privacy with it being a closed group and parents signing in making it a more secure way of sharing photos(if that’s possible).

The bottom line is that I see many benefits to sharing photos, information etc. in some manner with parents and I also feel that things like having a class Twitter account, which doesn’t need to include photos necessarily can help build global connections which is important in the world that we live in today.

What are your thoughts on sharing and openness in schools?

 

Do we worry about teaching more than learning?

How can we switch educators mindsets from “What am I teaching today?” to “What are my students going to learn today?” And “How can students SHOW what they have learned in their own individual way?” According to this article shared with us after the debate last night, “traditional education focuses on teaching not learning.” The article suggests instead of “teaching” we could use the phrase “explainers of something to someone who wants to find out more about it” which at the core of learning is “how to make links between my mind and another’s”. This was a cool way of thinking about teaching which is exactly what I try to do every day in math-explain it to my students in a way that they can relate to and would make sense to them. I have never thought about teaching that way before. We are not just passing on the knowledge we are the conductors of the “meeting of the minds”.

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What should students really be learning in schools anyway? If we can “Google” it then why do we need to learn it? Well, I think it is the concept of “learning” itself that we should be encouraging our students on “how to think” not “what to think”. I mean the actual process of Inquiry. How many educators actually teach the skills students to need to encourage curiosity, creativity and problem-solving? The question is not “What do you know” but rather “How will you discover that?” or “Why does that work that way?” If the answers to our questions are always at our fingertips,(literally) then how can we, as educators, encourage and nurture the idea of being curious about the world and how to create and solve their own questions? Learning should not be imposed on students but should be “largely the responsibility of the students themselves”, according to Ackoff and Greenberg. Are classrooms reflecting self-directed learning today or are we confined to teaching the content we need to cover in the curriculum?

I agree with Kyla’s Blog Post that students need to learn more about the “real world” and I like her idea of adding “Financial Literacy” to the curriculum. I think if students were problem solving with scenarios this would give math a more real-life context. It would be a great addition to learning math skills and career education at a much younger age.

What are your thoughts on what and how we teach our students in the world today?

 

 

Tech Impacts Learning

Does technology impact learning? Are there advantages and disadvantages of using tech? YES!! I LOVE using technology in Math, Science, Health, any subject but are my students learning the skills they will need for the future?

It was pretty hard for me to DISAGREE with the fact that technology has an impact on learning when it really goes against what I value in education but I found some very interesting information that supported this side of the debate. This article Tablets Out, Imagination In about how the people who work for the tech companies send their own children to schools without tech was pretty eye-opening. Why would they not want their children to learn in an environment that utilizes the latest apps and devices? The article states that they believe in experiential learning that promotes creativity, problem-solving and innovative thinking skills. I do believe that all of the screen time that students are getting between home and school has an impact on the social skills that students need to practice and develop. The article also stated that the education systems that heavily invested in computers saw “no noticeable improvement” in their results for a reading, writing and math assessment. Now I am not a fan of assessments but I wonder what tool is out there that measures student’s growth in preparing them for the future?

Then my research happened upon this video by technology author Nicholas Carr, who wrote a book on this topic entitled “The Shallows”. I learned some interesting facts about the brain like the fact that we are overloading our short-term memory with all the multi-tasking we are doing and we are not transferring knowledge into our long-term memory where deep, reflective thinking happens. I can relate to this myself because I feel like I am constantly doing 3, 4, 5 things all at once but is all of this multitasking making me smarter? A Stanford Study mentioned in the video reported that heavy multitaskers did poorly on six cognitive function tests. It also stated that the more we are attracted to the latest “bits” of information the less we worry about how trivial it is. Are we teaching our students how to filter what they are reading on their devices?

I do agree with this article provided by the AGREE side of the debate that technology does encourage all students to participate and it is useful to differentiate and personalize the needs of students. I use Google Classroom with my own students which has been a great organization tool and gives me the opportunity to provide instant feedback on their assignments. I also use the app Remind to communicate with parents, which I LOVE!! I have always been passionate about technology and I will continue to look for new innovative ways to use tech to enhance the learning in my own classroom. What are your thoughts on this topic?

Concluding Contemplation

Final thoughts on Final Project:

You Video, I Video, WeVideo!!

What is WeVideo you ask??

Well, it is an interactive tool where you can record and edit your own videos. OH ok, how can I use this in the classroom?

Kids these days look up to “YouTubers” as role models and I wondered how I could tap into this kind of learning to engage my students in a safe, online way? Well, let’s just say I am not ready for my own YouTube channel BUT I am having fun making my own videos which Regina Public Schools has a license for. The videos are saved in my Google Drive and can be shared with my students via Google Classroom-love that feature!!

Here is a quick video that explains how to use WeVideo.

I made a series of videos for math with each one on a particular multiplication strategy. I love how easy it was to edit, add music and transitions to the video. My students LOVED watching me on video and this was something I will definitely try to use in other subject areas.

Check it out:

I also discussed how I used the app EDpuzzle in this post “Exploration of EDPuzzle” to assess student understanding while watching videos. This blog EdTech Awesomeness (love the name) highlights how you can use this tool to:

  • flip your classroom
  • differentiate your instruction
  • encourage creativity and mastery of content
  • engage learners instead of being passive consumers of information

I would recommend trying this to any teacher in elementary or high school as you can control how difficult you make the content.

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I chose both of these apps based on the ability to integrate them with the Learning Management System that I already use-Google Classroom. I am mindful of how much we are asking students to access with all the different tech tools available and I LOVED that both of these apps were easily accessible to my students through their “home base” that they were already familiar with.

The final piece of my project was starting a classroom Twitter account which I discuss the beginnings of in this earlier post. I expected all my parents to be excited about this new communication tool but was met with some resistance and concerns. This mostly stemmed from students pictures online and the fear of online bullying which after we discussed what my intentions were, their initial concerns were eliminated. I can see the potential for connecting with other classrooms and experts around the world and agree with Jana’s post “Going Global!” that in today’s world we must show our students how to connect globally. I can see the great potential of using this tool to connect to others and wanted to empower my students to find their own voice to create their own tweets. This is definitely an ongoing project that needs modelling by the teacher and encouragement(and reminders) for the students that their thoughts or questions are worth sending out to the world. I plan on continuing this project for the rest of this year and hope we make some new connections with other classrooms and individuals from around the world.

This old gal did learn some new tricks and going forward I will continue to add to my “tech toolbox.”

EC & I 832 that’s a wrap!!

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Learning new tech skills, was it Mission Impossible?

I have really appreciated the support that this group of classmates has given each other both through your comments on the blogs or on Google +. This course has not only educated me about the topics of Digital Citizenship and Media Literacy but has also pushed me to be a creator online, not just a consumer.

My Summary of Learning includes some highlights from this course in a “Mission Impossible” style that I hope you will enjoy!! It is really hard to sum up in only 5 minutes the many topics that we have covered and the relentless hours exploring new technology. SO here I have included some of the highlights for me. I used Google Slides to create the visuals and Screencastify to record. Check it out: