That’s a Wrap on 833

It’s seems as though we just started this class! I am well aware that we haven’t and I am also more aware of just how much knowledge and information has been shared throughout the semester. The opportunity to listen to each of my classmates share about different topics pertaining to educational technology has provided me with a greater understanding of how technology impacts education.

This semester has provided me with many opportunities to question what I thought I already knew and to grow as an educator.

It is my hope that this summary shares with you what I feel have been the most important pieces of knowledge I have gained from the semester!

Enjoy!

My summary of learning for eci833:

Credit for images used in Powtoon video:

Jungle – https://www.flickr.com/photos/58932090@N00/5245045033

Galaxy – https://www.flickr.com/photos/50679904@N05/4919220217

Body – https://www.flickr.com/photos/38273190@N00/7914788472

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Are Our Kids Ready for a Virtual World When They Have Yet to Experience the Real World?

“Most people who interact with AR for the first time have a mind-blowing experience…” – Augmented Reality Brings New Dimensions to Learning

Much like Erin and Jayme explained in their posts this week , if I was asked to explain augmented reality  (AR)to someone I would have related it to what I know about video games and those “cool things” people wear on their faces. I have a pretty limited understanding and to be quite honest, very little interest in video games. So, much like Erin I completely skipped over the augmented and virtual reality (VR) section at the beginning of class. I should have known better!

Many of my #eci833 classmates this week have shared fabulous examples of the opportunities that AR & VR can provide not just gamers but the students who are walking into our classrooms every day.  We have the opportunity to share experiences from around the world with our students just by downloading an app! With the download of an app we can connect our students to places, different languages, real world events and so much more! It also doesn’t take much more than typing a few words into google to learn about how to go about implementing AR into your classroom. I always enjoy checking out what @TeachThought is sharing about what’s happening in education today. I found it interesting that in their post 32 Augmented Reality Apps For The Classroom From Edshelf  a couple of the apps that were discussed in class this week are found on the list from this past summer. As educators we would be remiss if we were to deny the potential for learning that AR and VR provide.

However, I do have one question….

Are our students experiencing enough life in the real world to be ready for a virtual one?

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Photo Credit: Zaidon Resident Flickr via Compfight cc

I am certain of one thing, I do not have the answer to my own question but I do think it is a question we need to consider. I tend to approach most topics from a very primary perspective and try to remind myself that I need to think beyond the K-2 classrooms that I know and understand, as often as I can. That being said I do believe it is important that we consider some of the possibly negative impacts of AR & VR that are possible when talking about education.

Prior to doing some exploration around AR and VR I didn’t realize that there is an age limit placed on some of the devices that allow one to experience AR and VR. I wonder if this is being considered in the conversations around implementing AR and VR into classrooms.

Curious to know more yourself? Check out a few articles that I came across in my search to trying to answer the question above:

Much like I mentioned earlier, I don’t deny the positive implications that AR & VR can provide our students but I do also think we need to look at whether or not our students are ready for a virtual world when they have yet to experience so many things in the real world.

I am curious to know if any of my other classmates or colleagues have found themselves considering the concerns I have mentioned today.

 

A Matter of Support

Listening to this weeks presentation about Assistive Technologies I really didn’t think that I had much experience with any of the tools that the group mentioned or with assistive technology in general. I had heard of Kurzweil and a couple of others but really had no personal experience with them.

When Launel shared the story of her husbands cousin, who is blind and makes his living as a machinist, in our Google+ community I was reminded of a story from my own high school. This was not a personal experience of mine but it came to mind right away after watching the video she shared. In our high school we had many options for hands on classes such as mechanics, cooking, cosmetology and many more. You don’t really realize how lucky you were to have that until you look back! I remember doing a tour of the mechanics shop at our high school and the teacher sharing about a student who was blind and was working on all kinds of different machines by using his hands to see. I was hoping to find a video about his story but had no luck. I did however find an article about him working as an employee for Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure’s Yorkton Repair Depot. The last line in the article is just the best!

“There are plenty of ways to describe this engaging young man. Being blind just happens to be an after thought.”

Much like Amy mentioned in her post this week, it took a little thinking for me to realize that I am using assistive technology tools for my students on a daily basis. Some of these students are on individualized program plans but a majority of them are not. If you walk into my classroom on a daily basis you will see wiggle seats, mushroom chairs, noise cancelling headphones, flexible seating and more depending on who needs what that day.

According to the Merriam Webster definition of assistance, it is not defined by specific characteristics or needs. It is simply a matter of offering support.

assistance

I couldn’t help but wonder this week, why is it that the common assumption around assistive technologies is that they are for those who have a diagnosis or are identified as needing extra support? Can we not all use a little assistance from time to time? In my mind, people are simply people. It doesn’t matter if someone has a diagnosis, is blind and/or deaf or anything else. What we need to do is provide each learner with the best opportunities for success.

Why didn’t I recognize that what I am already doing in my own classroom is considered assistive technology?

Understanding our reasons for wanting and needing to provide assistance to learners starts with knowing why we want to do it. As Simon Sinek shares in his Start With Why Ted Talk, when we start with the why the results are insurmountable.

 

When we start with our why I think we are making a conscious effort to keep students first. In keeping students as the first and foremost priority the opportunities to support them are endless. That support is going to look different for every single one of our students but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s our job to support them. Are there going to be challenges? Yes, of course! However, we need to embrace them!

As teachers today we often face constraints around what supports are available for the students in our classroom. Often there isn’t enough money to go around, there aren’t enough occupational therapists, psychologists, counselors, and speech pathologists either. By no fault of their own, simply put, the demand is just so high! Often times we need these supports to be able to access some of the tools and supports that will benefit our students. So what happens when we can’t access them?

Should we let the constraints we face stop us from wanting to provide our students with the supports that they need?

I hope it’s clear that I believe we cannot answer no to the above question. We need to try it in a different way and keep trying!

 

Getting to Know Plickers

intro

This week in our presentation of assessment technologies we touched on a variety of tools that can be used for formative and summative assessment. The functions of some of these tools may serve the same purpose but what these tools allow for is an opportunity for teachers to truly engage students in the assessment process. I stress the word process as I truly feel that assessment should not be a one and done thing. Allowing our students the opportunity to show us what they really and truly know, opens the door to what can be learned once we know what they know.

You don’t have to search too far and wide to find a tool that will provide you an avenue for assessment that eliminates the pencil paper assessment. I am not suggesting that we should throw away all the pencils and papers! What I collage-2016-10-27am suggesting is that we give something new a try to see what happens when we engage students in assessment in a different way. If you follow any of the work of Sandra Herbst or Anne Davies you will know that evidence of learning can be collected in a variety of different ways. They call it the triangulation of evidence, evidence that is “collected over time from different sources.” When we allow ourselves to be comfortable with learning about what our students know in new ways, we show them that we value what they know and want to know what they know, however they can share it with us.

When we embrace the opportunity to try something new we often surprise ourselves at just how well it can turn out. In her post this week Erin share’s about her first experience with using one of the tools share this week called Plickers! What’s even better about trying something new is quite often the reaction from students gives us that drive to try it again!

In our presentation this week Tyson shared about Plickers. I had originally heard about Plickers in a presentation at #skitsummit a couple of years ago. plickers2I remember thinking it was really interesting and setting up my account right there in the presentation. I got home from the conference and promptly forgot all about it! It wasn’t until a couple of weeks later when a colleague that I had attended the conference with was printing out her Plickers cards that I even remembered I had heard about this tool! That night before going home from work I printed out my cards, cut them out and laminated them. I set up a Plickers quiz for my kids the next day and we tried it out, they loved it! However, that’s about as far as it went. Prior to this year I hadn’t used it a lot, and I am not so sure I have the answer as to why but when I do use it the students really seem to enjoy it! I have set a goal this year to make a point of using it more for a quick snap shot of what each of the students know at that moment in time. Using what I gain in that moment, as formative assessment, to guide my teaching for the next lesson.

Earlier this year I had my students do a ‘Getting to Know Plickers” activity so that they could try it out, get the hang of how the cards work and see what happens once I have scanned the room. They love to see the check mark show up by their name once their answer has been scanned! As a quick side note, if you are using Plickers make sure that your students fingers aren’t covering any of the black box or letters, as your device won’t pick up their response. Below is a screen shot of what it looks like once you have formulated your questions and are ready to queue them up to use with your class. plcierks-1

We hadn’t used Plickers in a while and then just last week I had a student ask me when we were going to play “that card game” again because it was really fun! That was reason enough for me to put it in the day plan again! Even better, I knew this blog post was coming up so his timing really truly was perfect. He was excited to share and show me what he knew and I am not even sure he realized that there was more to it than just playing a game! We did talk about showing what you know before trying out a set of questions where the students had to pick our sentence errors! Here is a view of what it looks like from the teacher’s side of things as you are scanning the classroom.

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When you initially set up Plickers there is a little bit of a learning curve to figuring out how to add your students, add questions, get your questions ready to share with the students and how to view the results. However, once you get the hang of how to set things up it works as a great tool for informing your teaching. Want to give it a try? Check out this tutorial video!

 

The video doesn’t mention that you can also use this tool to record opinions on a topic from your students. You simply don’t choose a correct answer and leave the options open. You can project the graph view to show the variety of opinions within the class.

Considering giving this tool a try? I’d love to hear how it turns out!

Moving the Classroom Agenda Forward, Saying Goodbye to Web/Education 1.0

The bottom line, though, is not is what is in the best interests of the teacher, the administration, or the politicians. It is what is in the best interests of the learner. – Moving from Education 1.0 Through Education 2.0 Towards Education 3.0  by  Jackie Gerstein

As history has shown us, education in general, is in a constant state of change. The rate of change might be slow but nonetheless there is change. There is however one permanent piece to the education puzzle. We will always have students to teach and there will always be learning to do. This I am certain will never change. However, from year to year those students walking through the door do change. Their skill sets, background knowledge and life experiences change. The society and world around them are constantly changing! It might be an understatement to suggest that our world changes fast. From one day to the next there is a new app, website or tool available to help with some function or need in our everyday lives. Not just for our students but for educators as well. After the discussion in our class this week I am still not sure I understand what web 3.0 is all about but I do feel i have a responsibility as a professional to learn about it. After all, my students are likely going to understand it before I do, so I best start now! I am a work in progress when it comes to web 3.0 but I found this video helpful as a starting point.

 

It would be naive to think that our students aren’t embracing the constant change that we live in! So why aren’t some of our classrooms doing the same, if  as Gerstein suggests, students are the focus?

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Photo Credit: benschke Flickr via Compfight cc
There is a place for tradition and the “that’s how we’ve always done it” mentality but I am not certain that that belongs in our schools. Simply throwing away and forgetting about the great things of years gone by isn’t realistic either. Take for example a mixed tape. Many of us would be able to go to that box in the basement filled with treasures from the past, pull out a mixed tape and instantly be taken back to a moment or place in time. We don’t want to throw it away but we also don’t want to go down to that box in the basement to pull out that tape every time we want to hear that one song.  Also, how many of us would actually have the device to play that tape anymore?

Mixed tapes in their prime were great but do they serve a purpose today or do we have a better tool to accomplish the same end goal? Will the next tool work even better? The power of music has not been lost, it’s still full and well in our society but how that music is created and shared is much different. If musicians today wanted to be part of the music scene in an effective and lucrative way I would highly doubt they would be going around handing out and selling mixed tapes. They wouldn’t be able to reach their audience in the same way they would if they chose to share their music through online platforms while connecting with their target audience online.

Much like the history of how we hear music has changed, education is starting to do the same. The idea of teachers being the ‘sage on the stage’ doesn’t work any more. I would struggle to agree with someone who suggests it does. We live in a connected society and our schools need to start to reflect that.

1 million new active mobile social users are added every day. That’s 12 each second… – Marketing: 96 Amazing Social Media Statistics and Facts for 2016

If we continue to ask our students to come to school to “sit and get” we are putting them at a disadvantage for their future. We can’t expect educators to change their practice from what they have always known over night but I do think as a society we need to expect that our educators are showing a desire to grow.

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Photo Credit: p_sànchez Flickr via Compfight cc
We need to start to demand what’s best for our children. It’s not all out with the old in with the new, it’s a balance and a new opportunity. As Gerstein suggests in her article the evolution from web 1.0 to web 3.0 is reflective of the changes that we are seeing in education. However, those changes in education exist in very small pockets. There is always more to learn and we must never stop learning if we are asking our students to continue to be actively engaged in the learning process.

I have many questions around what happens when students have to move from a “sit and get” classroom one year to an active online classroom the next.  Whether we are talking about web 2.0 or 3.0 I think the following questions are important:

  • Are we doing right by our students if we let them sit in a “sit and get” classroom environment?
  • Who is responsible for helping ensure that students remain the priority and that their education reflects the skills and tools they need for the society we are preparing them for?
  • Who is responsible for preparing teachers to teach using the tools of today and tomorrow?
  • Is it the teachers job to remain an active learner?
  • Is it the employers job?
  • When do the age old “it’s too much work” and “I don’t have the time”no longer become acceptable? 

In consider myself to be an educator that strives to provide my students with opportunities that will prepare them for their future. Not for one job or another but to be someone that can actively engage, participate and give back to society. I strongly believe that we must engage them in a way that reflects the world they are growing up in. I believe this starts with the integration of web 2.0 building an understanding of web 3.0 and putting the web 1.0 back in the box in the basement!

An Open Door to Learning – Distance Education and Online Learning

After hearing all about the Sunwest Distance Learning Centre (@SunWestDLC) in class this week I started to think back on my experiences with online and distance learning. As hard as I have tried I can’t think of a time in my 4 years of high school where I personally experienced online learning. I am sure that my high school offered classes via correspondence but it was never something that I accessed or that was used as a teaching tool in my classes in such a way that I remember it today.

The first time I remember really experiencing online or distance education was in my undergrad ECMP 455 class with Dean Shareski (@shareski). I am fairly certain that our class was done through Eluminate sessions. I remember one project in particular where we were to do an interview with a learner. We were assigned educators from around the world to interview through Skype and present back to the class. Should you feel inclined to read an undergrad blog post and watch a fairly awkward video interview check out my blog post from that project Pick One Thing and Do It Well – Interview With A Learner. Please ignore my poor choice in haircuts at the time! I should also note that I still use Allanah’s advice today – one thing at a time!

interview

I remember at the time feeling overwhelmed by the idea of interviewing someone I had never met through video! I also remember feeling a little in awe of the idea that my professor could have a connection with so many people from all over the world. Not only that but that they were willing to support his current students journey to becoming educators. I think this is perhaps where my introduction to twitter came from!

The opportunities that we are provided today through online learning and distance education seem to be limitless. We can connect from anywhere in the world in a matter of seconds, share a document just as quickly and do it all at the same time. I really enjoyed the presentation from @jadebellak of the Sunwest Distance Learning Centre this week. I had followed Jade on twitter for a long time and connected with her through #saskedchat but had no idea what her role was. From right here in small town Saskatchewan they are connecting with and teaching students from across the world!

If we take our current #eci833 class as an example, we have people in the class that do not live right here in Regina but they are being provided the same opportunities as anyone else in the class. I think perhaps opportunity is a key word when talking about online and distance learning. The option and opportunity to learn are there but I would think from what I understand that a student in this situation has to be motivated to learn and participate. One of the things I like most about using Zoom as a tool for this class is the chat feature. I can interact with the people in class and ask questions along the way the same way I would in a face to face setting.

One of the pieces that Jade shared this week kind of blew me away. I had no idea that their learning centre was also teaching primary students. I had always thought of distance learning within the realm of high school and adult learners. Never had the idea of teaching primary students through online learning crossed my mind.

This lead me to wonder if online or distance learning is the best option for primary students. As a primary teacher especially but really at any grade, I feel it is imperative that I provide my students with an opportunity to learn and show their learning through hands on experiences. One of the things I find most beneficial about sitting down with my students as they are learning is that I can catch little misunderstandings and help correct that right on the spot. How are these things caught in a distance learning?

Known as multisensory learning, the hands-on teaching strategy engages the senses in a way that promotes learning comprehension on multiple levels. – Importance of a Hands-On Experience in the Elementary Classroom by Christine Bartsch

Outside of my understanding that online and distance education allows anyone, anywhere the opportunity to learn, I don’t fully know the scope of the technical side. Thinking in particular about K-12 education –

  • How do things actually go down when a lesson is taught?
  • How is learning shared?
  • Are students provided the opportunity to share their learning in multiple ways or are they limited?

I think the idea that someone no matter their age can connect to an educator anywhere in the world is fantastic! I also think that I have more to learn about the ins and outs of online learning and more specifically distance education.

Let’s Get Focused!

In his video Single -tasking is the New Multitasking, James Hamblin talks about how we as a society are:

“developing an inability to focus because [we] never focus on things” – Hamblin

Perhaps Hamblin is onto something here with #tablessthursday but the idea of a whole day without having multiple “tabs” opening and running at one time is more than just a little bit overwhelming for me! In part I feel like I need to have multiple “tabs” open to be doing my job well.

I am going to try to paint a little bit of a picture here for you to explain why I feel that way!

As a grade 2 teacher I will tell you that my days are never boring and I wouldn’t have it any other way! I don’t think it matters what grade you teach but for the point of my story today, we are going to spend the day in grade 2!

One of my favorite things about my job is standing at my door in the morning welcoming the students to a new day. I think a smile and someone saying, “good morning” is a great way to start the day! There are always exciting stories from the night before about someone who lost a tooth, had a dance class, a soccer practice, went for supper with their family or who got to hang out and play games with their moms and dads. Hearing their stories and the excitement in their voices makes my day! I try to make sure that I am present in that moment listening to their stories, making eye contact and sharing a comment back to let them know that I heard them and I appreciate their stories. I have to make a conscious effort each day to ensure that I am present in that moment.

For some it’s a struggle to say good morning back because they’ve got many other things on their mind but I feel by trying to reach out first thing in the morning, I am making an attempt to start their day with me on the right track! I am showing them that at that very moment, I am focused on them and only them. I feel guilty on the days that a colleague comes to chat as the kids are coming in. I want to give my students that undivided moment.

Once I step into the door of the classroom behind the last student who is drying their tears because something happened on the playground that upset them, I am hit with 20+ questions about what’s happening today. Yes, their schedule is up on the SmartBoard for them to see but there must be something special about hearing it from me!

As I step from the hallway into my classroom there is a long list of things that can run through my head on any given day:
8:57- Oops I forgot to change the date on the whiteboard, someone is going to tell
me and I will need to change it promptly so they can start their day
8:58 – I need to remind the students to put their take home folders in the basket at
the door so that I can take out the permission slips for our field trip next week
8:59 – I need to get a student list so I can keep track of who has been given
permission to go
9:00- I can’t forget to do attendance!
9:01 – I am thinking we need to hurry because O’Canada is going to start soon
9:02 – Help Jack get the not out of his shoe so that he can tie them
9:03 – Need to remember to write an email to Sam’s parents to help him practice
tying his shoes as home.
9:04 – Help defuse a situation at the lockers where someone is upset because their
locker buddy moved their backpack
9:05 – Grab some paper towel to clean up the water from a spilled water bottle in a
backpack
9:06 – Shoot O’Canada has started and we aren’t even in our seats year
9:07 – Remind everyone to stand respectfully for O’Canada, make sure to model this
and be in the moment.
9:08 – Sing along to O’Canada while going through a checklist in my head of who ran our morning routine yesterday and who is up for today. Is it someone who I am going to have to help guide through or will they be able to guide the class on their own? Which day of the cycle it is and which Daily 5 schedule I need to put up on the SmartBoard so we can start our day?

This is just the beginning of the day and the constant decision-making, reorganizing and re-planning that happens throughout my day doesn’t stop and that is just the way that it is!

I think I do alright making on the fly decisions when it comes to face to face conversations but start throwing in checking my class twitter account, my professional twitter account, Seesaw, my work emails and personal emails and that’s where I get a little lost and distracted. I think the suggestions that the internet has created an inability for us to focus on one thing at a time definitely has some validity. I also think as Hamblin suggests, that we can make a choice to change that or at the very least be mindful of the fact that we are off track and need to change our path! The internet isn’t going anywhere which means neither are the distractions. We need to make a choice to follow one path, stick with it and then check Facebook!                   29520458783_64f0b9fa64
Photo Credit: Tadie88 Flickr via Compfight cc

In the post  New Research Says Mindful-Multitasking Leads to More Focus and Calm author Elisha Goldstein suggests that:

“When we practice and repeat a procedure, it programs the auto-pilot. So if you practice becoming more present, focused, flexible and self-compassionate in the face of difficulty, then the auto-pilot is going to make more skillful decisions in the face of stress.

There’s nothing mystical about this, it’s just the way our brain works.”

I think as long as we are aware that we are multitasking and are making a point to maybe organize some of that multitasking then we are working towards being more mindful in the moment. We can’t blame the internet for our lack of focus!