Ironing Out the Kinks!

I’ve been writing this blog post in my head all week and it’s changed tracks about 100+ times! This morning at about 6 am the writing started again… it’s Saturday but my brain wasn’t about to take the day off!

I have been doing a great deal of thinking about my major project and trying to decide if I am on the right track. I’ve questioned myself more than not but after our discussion in class this week about Ribble’s Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship I am feeling like I have a better vision of where I am going and how I am going to get there.  In my previous post From Panic to a Plan… Sort of! I outlined my vision for this project and the steps I had taken up to that point. In my exploration of the nine elements I also came across a break down, on the same site, of how one could incorporate them into the K-8 classroom and really appreciated the guide as my project has taken on a bit of a new look, that I will explain a little later!

The overall goal and plan for the Tech Team has stayed the same however there was a major curve in the road that I didn’t anticipate. Perhaps it was that I hadn’t done enough research ahead of time or it was an opportunity for growth and some new learning. I am choosing to go with the second option because we are on a role and learning is happening!

I had originally intended to have the students explore, use and teach about how to use Powtoon as our first Tech Team task. After some research and looking into how I would go about getting the Tech Team set up to use Powtoon I realized that none of the students on the team are 13 years and older. This means they can’t create an account,  which in turn means I need to pay for a subscription so I can set them up with an account.

This is when I emailed Alec and tried to figure out if I was on the right track. He asked some great questions that had me reflecting on my overall process and ideas for this project. I chose to take a step back and come up with a new plan. I had to think about, what is something the Tech Team will be interested in but that will also allow us to explore new media literacies as well as digital citizenship?

Photo Credit: quintanacam Flickr via Compfight cc

This is where my project has kind of taken on a new look but with the same end goal! I am choosing to look at it as  two vehicles, cruising down a double lane highway, going the same direction but getting to their final destination (wherever that might be) on their own terms and in there own way! You’ll have to excuse me for a minute here as I use my metaphor to explain the new direction! One of the vehicles travelling along this highway is the Tech Team who are now exploring their GAFE accounts, more on this in a bit! The other is carrying my Grade 2 class as they explore digital citizenship through the use of Seesaw!

What is the tech team up to now? Team members have split into three groups to explore: how to access and organize your google drive, how to start a google slide by choosing a theme and organizing it, how to add media to a google slides presentation. They are currently working on brainstorming list of steps that someone who is unfamiliar with google drive & slides would need to know. Next steps are to learn about what a screencast is, how to create one, create a screen cast to help educate others and then share these screencasts with staff and students in our school! One of the questions Alec asked my when I checked in about my project as where the ideas for the tasks for this team were coming from. My initial hope was for the students to create these ideas and I hope that in the future this will be something that happens. I realized in the first couple meetings with this team that their current knowledge of various media literacies, although there, was not something they could describe or explain. So for right now, the ideas are coming from me but how we are approaching them is a team effort. I am not sure if this is the right or wrong way but I want them to have ownership as well as develop their language and understanding of various media literacies. Any thoughts on this?

What are we up to in grade 2 on Seesaw? We have been using Seesaw all year long and the students are very proficient with how to post but we have not made great use of the opportunities to communicate with one another and celebrate each other’s learning through the comment feature. This past week we re-visited the book The Technology Tail: A Digital Footprint Story (Communicate with Confidence)  and then discussed what a true, helpful, inspiring, necessary and kind post would look like! The comments have started to flow in and I am happy to report the excessive use of emoji’s has drastically decreased! Did you know you can show someone you are happy by using one happy face in the same way as using say, 20 happy faces?

Photo Source: http://bit.ly/2EhEpfi

My goal going forward is to focus on the development of digital security, etiquette, literacy and communication. I know this project will touch on all aspects of the nine elements as well as pieces that the elements don’t discuss. I don’t want to worry too much about which specific pieces of citizenship this project is focused on but rather to ensure that I am creating opportunities for students to engage in the online world in a supportive environment. One that teaches them how to be a supportive, encouraging, engaged and active citizens of the online world who are aware of their own impact. In the next couple of weeks I will be looking closer a the ISTE Standards for Students as I begin to put together a teachers guide to creating digital citizens as part of my project!

 

 

 

 

 

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Time to Say Goodbye to the ‘Status-Quo’

Today’s youth are digital natives who are unaware of life without Internet access, instant communication, mobile phones and an abundance of on-demand information sitting in their pockets. –Robyn Shulman

Photo Credit: flickr

Though the term ‘digital natives‘ is one that I might not agree with, I think there is great value in the point Shulman makes here. Our children of today do not understand what it means to grow up in a world without technology. They don’t know what it’s like to wait for your mom to get off the phone so you can connect to the internet, wait for the computer to load everything and then get onto MSN Messenger to chat with your friends about what everyone did that day. They don’t know what it means to have to go to a specific room to use a computer made up of various pieces including a monitor so big it needs it’s own table!

In my opinion, this isn’t something that we need to place blame on someone for, it is our reality. We could sit and debate whether or not this is true but I think the facts and society speak for themselves. Do I think we need to accept that technology is the be all end all? No, but what I do think we need to focus on is balance. I think this starts with accepting that “the way it once was” isn’t going to work anymore! I believe this to be especially true in our schools and classrooms today.

I believe now more than ever, our schools need to change and in a drastic way. There is a disconnect between the skills students will need in the work force and the skills they are developing in the classroom. This is highlighted in The Fast Company article about the top jobs in 2025 and the skills needed to land the job. This article suggests that two of the tops skills our students will need to land a job in 2025 are social intelligence and new media literacy as well as the ability to be a life long learner. I do believe that we are making progress in allowing our students to be in control of their learning and that  technology is being incorporated into classrooms more than ever.

The need for educators to understand how to navigate this online world is just as important as their students. We need to provide education to educators themselves. We can’t expect that teachers are just going to magically know how to properly integrate technology into their practice. It does take time and it will be a process but I think it needs to start now. If we are willing to sit idle and do things the way we have always done them, I think we are doing a great disservice to our students.

I don’t believe that teaching technological literacy should begin being taught at a specific age/grade, it needs to start as young as kindergarten and be incorporated through all grades in an integrated way.  Integration being the key word. When we teach our students about technology in a this or that manor, we are doing them a disservice. I think in order for this to happen there needs to be an overhaul in our curriculum that incorporates technological literacy into all areas to ensure that it is being taught. The truth is that when it is a choice and not seen as an important or valued skill, it quite likely won’t be taught.  I’m not naive enough to think that this is the only way to solve our current problem but I think that it’s a start. I also think we need to be willing to talk to our colleagues and learn from each other. There are some amazing teachers out there doing amazing things with their students!

Truth be told, our curriculum allows for technological literacy to be taught right now as it is but one must be willing to look for those opportunities and change their practice. If we look at the Future Work Skills of 2020 by the University of Phoenix Research Institute and more specifically at the 10 Skills for the Future Workforce section, there are connections to our curriculum as it is today, we just have to be ready and willing to look at our classrooms in a new light.

This week our conversation in class largely focused on the relationship between how we perceive technology based on the generation we “fit” into and incorporating technological understanding into education. I don’ t think it’s fair to clump everyone from Gen X, Gen Y- Millennials (Does anyone else dislike this term as much as I do?), Gen Z or the up and coming Alpha generation into their respective category. Perhaps it’s more important to look at how one perceives growth and their growth mindset, specifically when speaking about technology in education.  So my question to you is not what generation are you from but are you Jay or Ann in the video below?

Who decides?

Nothing has contributed more to our collective appreciation for being logged off and technologically disconnected than the very technologies of connection. – Nathan Jurgenson

Was it just me or did this weeks readings seem like they could be the topic of an entire grad studies class in and of themselves? I found myself stopping to think about my own personal experiences online, connections to my students and to conversations with colleagues a countless number of times.

When I sat down to do the readings for this week it was Sunday afternoon after a long week of report card comments and school events. I was tired and had left the readings to later in the week than I had planned. I was settled on my couch, sun coming in through the window, under a blanket with my dog right beside me. I thought to myself, “this would be a cool Instagram post.” Then promptly decided no I better get focused, put my phone away and do the next reading. Next up was The IRL Fetish by Nathan Jurgenson, as he discussed the idea that we don’t every actually disconnect because the times when we disconnect are the times that we later post about, I realized that this was me only minutes before!

I was intrigued by Jurgenson’s discussion around how society has created a fetish out of being offline. Perhaps it is because I am getting older or perhaps it is because I am beginning to understand the intricacies of technology more through my grad classes but I would be lying if I said I hadn’t considered completely going offline. There are days when I feel that I could completely say goodbye to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and feel 100% content with that choice. As quickly as I think that thought it disappears just as fast and I think I am beginning to understand that that feeling isn’t actually my own but rather somewhat of a societal pressure…

Why does it matter what I like to share on Instagram? Why do I have to feel like I need to disconnect? Why does someone get to decide how to determine whether I have disconnected or not?

An idea that continued to come back to me over and over during the readings this week was the idea around why we as a society feel the need to explain (to no end) or classify everything, specifically with technology. The discussion in this video about being a digital native was interesting but also presented a topic that I struggle with from time to time. Not because I don’t feel that the conversation isn’t important but perhaps because I don’t think it necessarily matters how we come to our own understanding of technology. Instead I think it is important that we come to understand how we can use technology to grow (no matter our starting point or age), learn, share with others, create a better society, and engage positively with others (more specifically in our school learning environments).

 

In class this week  we brainstormed a collection of ideas around what we as a class have felt to be the greatest changes seen in education in the last 40 years. Our list was lengthy but these words are the ones that I felt stuck out the most. What I found interesting was that technology didn’t seem to be overly present in this list. Now perhaps it was there more than I thought but I appreciated that it wasn’t the most prevalent idea to come out. I think sometimes we can get too caught up in what technology is or isn’t,  what it should or shouldn’t look like and what we should or shouldn’t know how to do as teachers. Perhaps it is just OK to be appreciative of where we are at in our technological understanding. What I don’t think is OK is that educators don’t work towards building an understanding of technology and the online world that we and our students are living in.

 

 

 

From Panic to a Plan… Sort of!

The strength of a person’s perspective is based on the number and quality of knowledge structures. And the quality of knowledge structures is based on the level of a person’s skills and experiences. Because people vary substantially on skills and experiences, they will vary on the number and quality of their knowledge structures. Hence, there will be great variation of media literacy across people.  – Media Literacy,  Chapter 1& 2 (Potter)

Ready… set… go!

Another semester is up and running but I wasn’t quite running at the get go! My name is Nicole Reeve and I am currently a grade 2 teacher in Regina, Saskatchewan. I am working towards my Master of Education in Curriculum & Instruction. This semester I set out to take on two classes. I was ready and prepared with the idea that I was going to be busy and that my social life might take a little hit this semester but was more than alright with that seeing as I was on track to finish  my degree this summer. Reality hit hard the first week back after Christmas break and I was feeling overwhelmed just 3 days in. So plans have changed a little and it’s a little ironic how it all worked out!

Both of my classes were to be online, one being this one and another being housed through UR Courses. Day one of the semester came along and UR Courses isn’t working and I can’t get access to that syllabus. Of course, I am a bit of an over planner so I’d already purchased the text books for that one. Back to work, two classes starting and report cards looming I was already feeling the pressure and technology was failing me. See the irony there? With a couple #courosclasses under my belt I knew there was likely to be an online sign up for some sort of project right off the get go. How was I going to do this if I didn’t know the due dates for the other class? Panic! (Okay, maybe not full on panic but I was feeling the pressure.) First 832 class rolls around and sure enough there is a sign up (thanks for not doing it that night Alec, you saved me some grey hairs with that one) and a major project. Major project? No problem! Ideas for those in the past have come to me no problem.

Insert real panic —-> no idea for major project, no access to second class and work is back in full swing.

Fast forward to two weeks later and I’ve got it cased (I think)! I am one class lighter, have an idea in my head and report cards are slowly coming together. I call that progress!

My idea for the major project this semester is going to be combined with a recent extra curricular club that I have started at work. I am sure I read over the major project in the syllabus 5 times before it came to me that I am already doing something that I can use and this class will quite likely help that club to be more successful that I had even envisioned. The club is a Technology Team made up of grades 5-8 students who have an interest in learning about new technologies to support their learning. Right now I am in the beginning stages but here is what’s happened so far!

What I’ve already done…

    • Advertised the team on announcements and held an information meeting
    • Handed out an information and parents permission form (this letter tells you a little bit more about the goals of the team)
    • set up our first month of meetings
    • Collected permission forms
    • Set up a Google Classroom for the club so we have a ‘home space’
    • Had students take an information Google Forms survey to tell me a little bit about what they already know about technology and what they want to learn. More to come on their responses later!
    • Held first team meeting where we discussed Digital Citizenship and what students currently know. We started our conversation with these videos:


What’s next?

  • Find a way to hopefully engage some grade 7 &8 students, currently right now I only have grade 5 & 6 students interested
  • Invite parents to join the conversation in our google classroom (need to do some thinking on just how that looks first)
  • Inform parents that I will be using this team as a project for my class
    • If anyone has used a Masters course project, combined with something in their classroom/school and asked for parent permission I’d love to chat about how you did that!
  • Powtoon will be our first tool that the students explore.

End goal?

I am sure this will change over time but my goal is to create a collection of students in my building who are confident digital citizens with a growing understanding of media literacies. I want them to be able to share the value, possibilities and opportunities that technology can provide in a learning environment with their classmates and teachers. It is my hope that they will be able develop automated routines  that allow them to be critical thinkers and informed consumers.

Summary of Learning

Hard to believe it is that time but here comes another summary of learning!

Throughout the semester I gained an understanding of the important factors and pieces that must be in place when integrating a blended or fully online approach to teaching. I am excited to continue the learning that we have done by working towards integrating more blended learning opportunities into my current practice.

As for my video below, I had hoped that the pictures would be a little clearer but did the best that I could/knew how/what google told me! I had originally planned to put the video together using iMovie using my iPad. Well, turns out short little videos on the iPad are much easier to do than what I intended for my summary! I had to turn to Movie Maker and I think it turned out not too bad. One day a Mac Book will be mine!

I also feel like I need to give a shout out to @MrLPetlak! That cat line is all in fun I promise!

Thank you all for a great semester of learning, collaborating and team work!

Let’s Talk Feedback

This semester, we joined forces in order to stretch our thinking and create a blended learning prototype for grade 2 students.  

The journey was a long, hard, rocky one, with many ups, downs and even a few ‘AHAs’!

In the beginning, we knew we wanted to focus on younger students, so we set our sights on Grade 2.

Which learning management system was best for our prototype was a question that we spent a lot of time considering and debating, before we eventually settled on Weebly.

This decision ultimately led us to our Grade 2 Science Weebly page.

Within our Weebly, you will find a Course overview page which discusses our rationale as well as how we expect the course would run.

The development of this course did not come easily, and we had many discussions surrounding things such as:

Below you will find our responses to the feedback we received:

Ready for Some Science

Our project started to take shape very early in the semester. We decided quite quickly that we were up to the challenge of creating an online course designed for primary students. The process of thinking about the what and how for this project involved research of different LMS systems and trying to decide what would best suit students who are in the 6-8 age range.Our initial idea of creating a course that was of the blended variety never wavered. We felt that it was crucial to be able to teach our students the skills they would need in order to be able to effectively navigate the course. Skills that will also be transferable to further learning in online or face to face environments. For this very reason, we settled on Weebly.

Why Weebly?

Weebly does not require any student log in to access the content of the course. Speaking from experience with primary students, this is perfect! Also, it is very user friendly and was easy to navigate when setting up the course on the teacher end. We have set up the Weebly with the hope that any teacher would be able to visit the weebly and implement with very little planning outside of the modules we haven’t created. On a side note, much like Ashley and Sarah I am hoping to continue to develop more modules to use in my classroom next year!

In an effort to share more about our pedagogical decisions and goals for this course, I am going to walk you through what you will see when you visit our Grade 2 Science – Solids and Liquids prototype course!

Home Page

Let’s start with the home page! What will you see here?

  • Our intended audience for this course is grade 2 students who are learning about Solids and Liquids
  • Our curriculum has come from the Saskatchewan Grade 2 Science Curriculum
  • We have set up the home page so that teachers could use this space as an introduction.
  • We have provided teachers with an idea for opening activity using TodaysMeet – knowing that this could be completed at the school level or on a device at home

Moving on to the Course Overview page:

We designed this page very simply so as not to overwhelm any teachers who visit this page. However, the links found on this page are where you will find the information for why our course is designed as it is. In the linked documents you will see what our goals are, the outline for teaching the course and how the course will flow, as we see it.

Unnamed image (3)

  • A link to our course rationale and course overview (created using a shared google doc)

Next up is the Experiment Station!

experiment station

The experiment station is set up to be the hub for students. This is where we would direct students and parents to view lessons and tasks. As the course was developed further, you would find a lesson for each piece of the course. What will you find here now?

  • The sample modules for the course can be found on this page.

Next up, some collaboration!

collab 1

What will you see here?

  • We have created a guide for teaching and planning document that would allow teachers to create a timeline that will work in their classrooms setting
  • A video to share why we feel that Seesaw is the perfect tool to support this course
  • A document for feedback. We wanted to be able to support teachers who decide to teach this course to their students
  • Information for how to contact the creators of the course (myself and Amy) with any tips, suggestions or questions based around this course

collab 2

I do believe that Amy and I have create a course that is relevant, accessible, well planned, of sound pedagogy and keeps the student’s learning as the focus!

Check out Amy’s post from this week to see a little more about our process! There was a lot of second guessing, revamping, texting, snap chatting, sound pedagogy and team work that went into the creation of this prototype.