Monthly Archives: January 2017

Critiquing LMS ‘s

To start off I have to apologize for the lack of activity this week.  Life gets stressful some weeks and for me it's been a long one.... Report cards are easy to blame, but at the same time, life with a toddler, two classes, a very pregnant wife, a mother getting knee replacement surgery, working 2 jobs and the variety of other things that life throws us all any given day has made this week long.  So my apology is to all of my classmates for being tardy with this post and for not reading and commenting the way I should have this week.  

As I read through Audrey Waters article, Beyond the LMS, I was seriously juxtaposed. I understand where she is coming from, especially when it comes to open concept teaching and expanding individual personal learning networks (PLN), but at the same time when I think of my students, whom I am to keep safe, and ensure they learn the required Saskatchewan Curriculum I think that is partly why we use a LMS, vs a more Utopian option that she hints at throughout her post. As much as we are to be evaluating based on specific outcomes and determining whether or not a student is progressing, meeting or exceeding grade level expectations, we also want to develop healthy, positive, forward thinking students who will be ready to enter the big scary world of adulthood without any of the protection of an LMS.

I do think that we want to develop independent thinkers, and people who, when needed are capable of learning information on their own to suit their current needs. To do this though, I do think that we need some sort of structure or a way to manage our priorities. When it is Christmas time, or close to Spring Break, or the end of the year, a teachers life becomes more stressful... Why, because of the irregularity and unstructured nature of those times. We do not want to begin a new unit, in fear of having to reteach the material, or we want to reward the students for working hard, so we plan fun activities that aren't directly tied to curriculum, but are more developed for social interactions.

Now when it comes to the LMS's that we have talked about in class. I am an avid Google Classroom guy, who uses this platform in his classroom on a daily basis. Four years ago, I started using Edmodo and I enjoyed this platform as well. Through researching, I like Schoology mostly because of the options of setting up groups within a given class. Including the learning outcomes within this platform is definitely one of my favorite tools. With it being an American site it doesn't have any of the Canadian standards, let alone Saskatchewan specific, but there is an option to add them into the assignments which is great! The intricacies of the program I am not entirely sure about, but I know if I had to restart, or my school board dropped the GAFE option for us, I would probably switch to Schoology.

Within our class we had the opportunity to look into Canvas. My initial response to Canvas is one of confusion, frustration and a general distaste from attempting to set up a course. I have a variety of material that I have used in the past and when I attempted to upload it I found it was not the right format. Then I looked into importing another persons course through their commons option. I could only view small portions of the units, and I had to download a full unit to look through to determine whether or not I wanted that unit. Having not spent a lot of time on this LMS I would not completely write it off, but given the same amount of time to Schoology I was able to quickly use my already developed files and they were compatible. I am sure once a person is used to searching, and understanding the nuances of Canvas that there are a lot o positives to the platform, but in the hour I spent fumbling around I found it very disjointed.

Let me get back to Edmodo. As I have already used this site, I logged in and began reminiscing about how I used this and where I wanted to take it. I appreciated the familiarity my students had with this platform due to its similarity to Facebook (if your unfamiliar here is a blog about the similarities) and their willingness to give this new 'flipped' classroom a try. I was able to use this to manage the learning in a very transient class, with a huge variety of needs, including K-8 reading levels, variety of students with an assortment of learning needs from dyslexia to low cognitive function to FAS and ADHD. Using this platform helped the students keep track of their assignments and know when things were handed in and what they received for marks. It gave me the opportunity to have the students who had the opportunity to work on more individualize plans and enrich those when needed. There were some issues with this platform. Some were that not all the assignments were as easy to complete due to the nature of the class, ex; math, but there were also the spaces, where they had to be within the application to do their work. There wasn't an option to do the assignment outside of the platform and the collaboration piece was more difficult, at least it was difficult to ensure the students were putting in an equitable amount of work.

This brings me to GAFE, more specifically Google Classroom. I love this platform. Now Alice Keeler wrote a blog about is Google Classroom a LMS or Not? I feel she made some very good points, but at the same time, when referring to back to Audrey Waters post about teaching Beyond the LMS, my question would be does it matter? In terms of how can I manage, yes sorry Audrey but as a middle school teacher I need to manage, my students workload, evidence of learning, and utilize the tools within GAFE to facilitate and check in on my students daily. I love how this platform increases the level of accountability. The main thing I like is that I can create and share documents with students who can then collaborate within that document and then the evidence of who did what is at my fingertips through the document itself. I can quickly see who did what, and who did nothing. Another thing I love about this LMS the closed option that still includes parents information. This was a new addition this school year, where the parents are sent an email daily or weekly (their choice) as to what is going on in the students classes.

Here is a snapshot of what my LMS homepage looks like. From this platform I am able to manage the work for my 106 Science, 28 Math, 26 ELA and Homeroom, along with being involved in our Lion King Musical group. In the past I have also used this platform to run our sport team schedule, games, and practices.

I know I am biased towards GAFE because of my current situation within Regina Public School Board, and I know it is heavily biased towards Google and Pearson, but at the same time, through strong teaching techniques and using inquiry based learning opportunities I am hoping to give my students as well rounded approach to their education as possible. I look forward to reading others blogs about the LMS's they use.



Critiquing LMS ‘s

To start off I have to apologize for the lack of activity this week.  Life gets stressful some weeks and for me it's been a long one.... Report cards are easy to blame, but at the same time, life with a toddler, two classes, a very pregnant wife, a mother getting knee replacement surgery, working 2 jobs and the variety of other things that life throws us all any given day has made this week long.  So my apology is to all of my classmates for being tardy with this post and for not reading and commenting the way I should have this week.  

As I read through Audrey Waters article, Beyond the LMS, I was seriously juxtaposed. I understand where she is coming from, especially when it comes to open concept teaching and expanding individual personal learning networks (PLN), but at the same time when I think of my students, whom I am to keep safe, and ensure they learn the required Saskatchewan Curriculum I think that is partly why we use a LMS, vs a more Utopian option that she hints at throughout her post. As much as we are to be evaluating based on specific outcomes and determining whether or not a student is progressing, meeting or exceeding grade level expectations, we also want to develop healthy, positive, forward thinking students who will be ready to enter the big scary world of adulthood without any of the protection of an LMS.

I do think that we want to develop independent thinkers, and people who, when needed are capable of learning information on their own to suit their current needs. To do this though, I do think that we need some sort of structure or a way to manage our priorities. When it is Christmas time, or close to Spring Break, or the end of the year, a teachers life becomes more stressful... Why, because of the irregularity and unstructured nature of those times. We do not want to begin a new unit, in fear of having to reteach the material, or we want to reward the students for working hard, so we plan fun activities that aren't directly tied to curriculum, but are more developed for social interactions.

Now when it comes to the LMS's that we have talked about in class. I am an avid Google Classroom guy, who uses this platform in his classroom on a daily basis. Four years ago, I started using Edmodo and I enjoyed this platform as well. Through researching, I like Schoology mostly because of the options of setting up groups within a given class. Including the learning outcomes within this platform is definitely one of my favorite tools. With it being an American site it doesn't have any of the Canadian standards, let alone Saskatchewan specific, but there is an option to add them into the assignments which is great! The intricacies of the program I am not entirely sure about, but I know if I had to restart, or my school board dropped the GAFE option for us, I would probably switch to Schoology.

Within our class we had the opportunity to look into Canvas. My initial response to Canvas is one of confusion, frustration and a general distaste from attempting to set up a course. I have a variety of material that I have used in the past and when I attempted to upload it I found it was not the right format. Then I looked into importing another persons course through their commons option. I could only view small portions of the units, and I had to download a full unit to look through to determine whether or not I wanted that unit. Having not spent a lot of time on this LMS I would not completely write it off, but given the same amount of time to Schoology I was able to quickly use my already developed files and they were compatible. I am sure once a person is used to searching, and understanding the nuances of Canvas that there are a lot o positives to the platform, but in the hour I spent fumbling around I found it very disjointed.

Let me get back to Edmodo. As I have already used this site, I logged in and began reminiscing about how I used this and where I wanted to take it. I appreciated the familiarity my students had with this platform due to its similarity to Facebook (if your unfamiliar here is a blog about the similarities) and their willingness to give this new 'flipped' classroom a try. I was able to use this to manage the learning in a very transient class, with a huge variety of needs, including K-8 reading levels, variety of students with an assortment of learning needs from dyslexia to low cognitive function to FAS and ADHD. Using this platform helped the students keep track of their assignments and know when things were handed in and what they received for marks. It gave me the opportunity to have the students who had the opportunity to work on more individualize plans and enrich those when needed. There were some issues with this platform. Some were that not all the assignments were as easy to complete due to the nature of the class, ex; math, but there were also the spaces, where they had to be within the application to do their work. There wasn't an option to do the assignment outside of the platform and the collaboration piece was more difficult, at least it was difficult to ensure the students were putting in an equitable amount of work.

This brings me to GAFE, more specifically Google Classroom. I love this platform. Now Alice Keeler wrote a blog about is Google Classroom a LMS or Not? I feel she made some very good points, but at the same time, when referring to back to Audrey Waters post about teaching Beyond the LMS, my question would be does it matter? In terms of how can I manage, yes sorry Audrey but as a middle school teacher I need to manage, my students workload, evidence of learning, and utilize the tools within GAFE to facilitate and check in on my students daily. I love how this platform increases the level of accountability. The main thing I like is that I can create and share documents with students who can then collaborate within that document and then the evidence of who did what is at my fingertips through the document itself. I can quickly see who did what, and who did nothing. Another thing I love about this LMS the closed option that still includes parents information. This was a new addition this school year, where the parents are sent an email daily or weekly (their choice) as to what is going on in the students classes.

Here is a snapshot of what my LMS homepage looks like. From this platform I am able to manage the work for my 106 Science, 28 Math, 26 ELA and Homeroom, along with being involved in our Lion King Musical group. In the past I have also used this platform to run our sport team schedule, games, and practices.

I know I am biased towards GAFE because of my current situation within Regina Public School Board, and I know it is heavily biased towards Google and Pearson, but at the same time, through strong teaching techniques and using inquiry based learning opportunities I am hoping to give my students as well rounded approach to their education as possible. I look forward to reading others blogs about the LMS's they use.



I see Google Classroom in my future, do you?

The plan
zoomlogosmall After a brief Zoom meeting with my project group we decided that we would use the blended learning platform Google Classroom to complete our prototype project.  I know that it is early on to make the decision, but Aimee, Rochelle, and myself have access to Google Docs and we thought that was a start, a place to share and organize information. It was just a matter of adding Justine.

You mean to tell me…  google-class
Now for Google classroom, last class Katia provided user access to U of R’s Google Classroom account.  I already have access to RBE’s google apps, but I did not know that I could have been using Google Classroom until just a few days ago. Last year I was creating assignments for my students using Google Docs. I would create an assignment duplicate it and share it with the students.  My students loved using technology, they would have to find my assignment, follow written instruction and complete the task, then share the document with me. in the mean time using my email address to share it with me, one student is still emailing me about his high school experience. Wow, now if I would have used Google Classroom my shared documents and google drive would have not been a disorganized mess.  My repetitive method of instructing students to name the assignment with a certain title would just clutter my drive and I couldn’t decipher whose was whose on first glance.

32005426070_4929caf7a1I wonder if all RBE teachers know that they have access to Google classroom, did I miss the memo.  Someone should have provided some information on this. Not a single teacher in my building was using Google Classroom last year, I can’t speak about this year I am at home on a mat leave with a new baby.  How did other RBE teachers find out about the availability ???

Photo Credit: USEmbassyPhnomPenh Flickr via Compfight cc

Google Classroom it is!!
Our group plans to work together to create our modules, lessons while also uploading evaluating methods  onto our Google Classroom site. The Google Plus Community clarified that we need to use the university’s Google Classroom as Justine is not in the RBE division and would not have access to RBE’s platform.  By each having access to our Google Classroom, we will be able to collaborate ideas even though we are physically apart.

29408279342_80ddd18259

My Thoughts on Google Classroom
Before I even ventured to check out Google Classroom Roxanne’s Blog caught my eye.  I like how she added the video that gave a brief overview of Google Classroom.  Her video had me searching for others, perhaps I could learn more about Google classroom by video.  I really liked Jamie Keet‘s video.

 

After watching the video’s I am feeling pretty safe about my choice of platform.  I can’t believe that I was using Google Doc’s when I should have used Google Classroom all along. The setup is very basic if you are familiar with Google Drive then it’s very similar. I love the simple layout with the options of customizing themes but still keeping it neat and tidy.

Take a moment to watch the video and then jump in and try it out using the login info from last class if your division does not have Google Education Apps.  Share your experience with me by leaving a comment!

 

 

 


Yay or Nay to LMS?

Throughout last weeks class, I felt quite ‘Out of the Loop’ when learning about the different CMS, LMS & VLE platforms. Usually, when I feel overwhelmed during class, I hear my inner voice saying;

“You will figure this out, just give it time and this is just how you learn”                                                           Photo Credit

loop

It usually works for me and I simply forge ahead.  Reading some of the blogs always helps because I find that I’m not the only one. I have some experience with Google Classroom and I’ve used Blackboard for Alec and Katia‘s EC&I 832 class.  I’ve heard of MoodleEdmodo, and Canvas but have never heard of BrightSpace or Schoology.

No worries because I have started using Google Classroom this year and my students are currently enjoying their Google Slides projects in Science. Luckily, my group was interested in using Google Classroom as well.

After reading a few blogs, I appreciated that others felt the same. Jayme and Natalie expressed their unfamiliarity with the many LMS platforms available. As of last Tuesday, I was literally figuring out the acronyms that night. I was even googling them to help answer a question in the feed.

So, I am not surprised that this is just something else that is unfamiliar to add to my knowledge of educational technology. I know that I am not alone and will continue to allow myself time to learn.

I agree with Rochelle when she began her blog by saying;

how about we first realize that most educators in Saskatchewan aren’t even aware of what an LMS is! Heck, most of Saskatchewan’s educators are still “digital visitors.”

I think about this fact almost every Tuesday evening when I am introduced to another aspect of how to use technology as a tool for student learning.

There are still many 1.0 Educators (who dabble in 2.0) who do their best and provide learning opportunities within their comfort zone. Working in an elementary school, I see the apprehension and feelings of anxiety when  “edtech” tools are unknown and misunderstood. So, planning Google Classroom and our upcoming project provides mixed emotions of anticipation, excitement, anxiety, with a dab of stress. Do I have a clear understanding of what LMS looks like for students? Not 100%, but I see engagement everyday during blogging, Mathletics, RazKids, researching, and assignments done through Google Classroom. I also see excitement as students rush to get a chromebook. It is the only time, all students “get started right away,” without hesitation.

I love that when my students do have the opportunity to use technology in the classroom, they are engaged and focused.

On the flip side, after reading Audrey Watters blog, Beyond the LMS, I certainly had mixed feelings. Each week I hear about all of the positive learning and excitement that occurs in our classrooms. So, reading Audrey Watters blog post put everything back into perspective. I found her blog post to be very powerful and insightful. It is important to be reminded that we need to think about why we choose a particular ‘edtech’ tool. I appreciate that I’m reminded to ask myself these questions. Does it enhance student learning? Does it provide individualized, blended, and/or interactive learning. Am I replacing an ‘edtech’ tool with an Education 1.0 and thinking that I am enhancing learning just because my students are using a computer? I learned to be cautiously aware of the next technology tool that everyone is talking about.

As far as choosing a platform for our blended/online learning group assignment, my group chose Google Classroom right away. I feel confident that I can answer “yes” to my questions and am happy with our choice. We have a variety of experiences using this platform, ranging from no experience to experienced. I am looking forward to creating our online blended course on Genius Hour. It will be a project that I will use with my classroom for at least the next few years (until the next big movement of “edtech” is created). I have no doubt that the members of my group, Adam, Danielle, LorraineKyle and Jorie will find Google Classroom to be a great fit!

Thank you for reading!

Please click on the title to leave a comment!


Interview with the Google Classroom Guru

my head hurts…
SOURCE: GIPHY

Social media has completely taken over my life. In a matter of fact, the reason why I’m submitting this blog entry on a Sunday night is because the past week in world politics has completely consumed my life. I’ve fallen into what the kids refer to as an “internet k-hole”, a “cyber” black-hole if you will… sucking my very existence into its tight grip.

You know it's going to get weird when you're dealing with Urban Dictionary.
You know it’s going to get weird when you’re dealing with Urban Dictionary.

All silliness aside however, I did realize that taking a break from all of this crazy talk is necessary, and what better way than to reflect on some LMS platforms? Honestly, I’m not being sarcastic here, I’m stoked to actually be talking about something else for once.

So stoked
SOURCE: GIPHY

I decided to roll with Google Classroom. If you’re wondering why I chose this platform, I promise you the story ain’t that intriguing. My rationale here was rather simple actually. I’ve seen some of my coworkers use Classroom, so I thought to myself: “hey, why not?”

alright, let’s do it
SOURCE: GIPHY

Of course, there are other great reasons I would want to use Google Classroom. For one, my entire school is connected through Google. All my students have Google accounts with personal email accounts and access to all of Google’s awesome arsenal of apps. This makes using Classroom a no-brainer, as I would eventually like to actually start using an LMS platform in my own classroom. So in a sense, this entire project is going to be a huge trial run for me. If this goes well, it’s easy enough to use, and I can see myself planning and posting things regularly; maybe I’ll end up making the transition!

So I started up a mock classroom just to get a feel for the whole thing. I immediately came to a roadblock as I had no idea how to invite other teachers to become moderators with me. As I skimmed through the site’s various tabs and menus, I found the navigation on the website to be a little confusing. To be fair however, I only looked for maybe thirty seconds. Anyway, luckily for me, my great coworker Scott, resident Google Classroom guru, was there to help me out!

To be honest, he’s the one that ended up showing me everything. So today, I’m going to be giving you a different type of review: it’s going to be based entirely off my coworker’s awesome walk-through.

First thing’s first, Scott is a huge advocator for Google Classroom. When I asked him what he found most compelling about the platform, his immediate response was that it’s using something that kids are already familiar with. “It’s not that it’s that innovative or that the kids really care for it, but it’s practical. I post an assignment, their phones start going off. They’re getting text notifications… I mean, they literally have no excuse NOT to do their assignments”

SOURCE: GIPHY

Hm. Good point. I mean, as long as kids have a means to access their accounts (which he said all of them do), this doesn’t sound like a bad way to set up your classroom at all. See, having someone who actually uses this thing is a big selling point for me. This means I have someone to pester with questions when I run into problems ? , but it also means we can link-up and share our classrooms with one another. This means that I can go into his online classroom, and post assignments for his students. But why would I want to do that though? Well… It just so happens to be, that in our case, we actually teach each other’s classes. So really… NOT using this is actually kind of a bad call on my part. And sure enough, some of the kids in his class who haven’t completed assignments for me in the past have used the classic excuse that I hadn’t posted the assignment on their Google Classroom. Dang…they got me there….

SOURCE: GIPHY

As Scott showed me more and more, I started to get a good sense of how you can integrate this tool in a classroom. Scott’s not doing anything that crazy, but the platform allows students a lot more freedom as to what format they submit their work in. He explained to me that many students prefer having a digital copy of their assignment as they would rather type out their work.

He also mentioned how creatively-inclined students have used Classroom to their advantage. Some students submit video responses, pdf files, PowerPoint presentations, audio files, and even digital artwork.

The platform itself is fairly easy and straight-forward. Although I did not get too much into customization, I know that you can get a lot fancier if you really want to. For simplicity’s sake, Scott keeps things simple. At the end of the day, you want to make things easier on yourself, and for practicality’s sake, this thing gets the job done.

Communication between home and school is simplified through the platform. Scott gives access to all parents and guardians to the Classroom site. He says it’s greatly improved student accountability, as students are able to keep track of assignments, due dates, school announcements, etc.

I found that the platform was capable of doing some interesting things I never really thought about doing online; including grading and keeping track of complete/incomplete student work. To be honest, those two are big selling points for me as it would get rid of so much physical clutter from all the assignments students would be handing in, and it would make planning and grading a lot easier when you’re on the go.

At the end of my walkthrough, I was definitely sold on using Google Classroom as Scott answered a lot of my questions and concerns. Posting assignments is a breeze; parents are always in the know of what’s going on in the classroom; students can access, complete and submit assignments from literally anywhere; and it’s using a service that my school and my students already heavily rely on.

The true testament to whether or not I’ll want to fully commit to the Google Classroom world will come once I start actually using the platform for my prototype, but as far as first impressions go, I’m definitely sold on at least trying it out.

If any of you use or have used Google Classroom, and have anything that they’d like to share about the platform, I’d be really interested in hearing about it. I’m all ears at this point and am definitely curious to seeing what it’ll be like to plan a course using an LMS platform. Wish me luck!

Dre


Planning to Use See Saw for the Course Prototype

Hard at work

Hard at work

Photo Credit: mikecogh Flickr via Compfight cc

      After Ellen and Samantha and I decided to create our project around the topic of Gr. 3 Visual Arts, Ellen suggested we use something called See Saw.  I have been doing some research and it appears to be a great tool to use for young students in the area of art.   I read that See Saw is a student driven digital portfolio where students can document their learning through photos, videos, drawings, text notes etc. A benefit to teachers is that student work can be uploaded, organized and available from any device or computer.  Student work can be shared with parents and peers in a private or public way.

Photo Credit: minm01 Flickr via Compfight cc

According to our assignment, See Saw will be an appropriate tool for our target population and demographics.  Considering the topic of visual art, it will allow students to create their product in a variety of ways and provide easy assessment.  A teacher could potentially use one ipad and pass it around for students to use individual logins (not ideal but has potential). Finally, this tool is great to use with EAL learners.

31783120892_836932390d

Photo Credit: stevenrindner Flickr via Compfight cc

     With all the tools out there, why did we choose See Saw?  For the many reasons that they advertise:

  1. gives all students a voice
  2. makes thinking and learning visible
  3. creates ownership in learning
  4. builds reflection
  5. supports creation
  6. builds strong communication between home and school
  7. provides authentic assessment opportunities
  8. there is an embedded blog
  9. can invite co-teachers
  10. great for EAL learners

I think another big plus for me personally, is that I like the idea of investing this time and energy into something that I will actually use with my students.

Was just watching a screencast on  Nicole’s blog this week.  She and Amy are also using See Saw, but drew attention to Weebly to oraganize the information online.  It seems like a great idea so I will be talking to my group about it and we may follow suit…? (thanks for the info.)


Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!! = Google Classroom!

Source

Source

**Proof that Google Classroom is liked by many**

Learning Management What?? After this weeks’ class I was feeling a little bit stressed, overwhelmed, and perhaps a little in over my head.  So many people have had experiences using a variety of learning management systems and here I was clueless, have never used anything other than UR Courses and ZoomMoodle, blackboard, canvas, edmodo, bright space, google classroom all of these different management systems were brought to my attention this week.  I was struggling to wrap my head around which one would work best for me in my own teaching and learning and which one I (who often struggles with technology) would be able to figure out and manage for my classroom.

I was able to spend some time with my colleagues this week exploring google classroomAndres, Roxanne and I were able to meet with “our go to tech guy” at school.  He was able to give us a detailed tutorial on google classroom and explain how it works and the benefits of using google classroom in our own teaching and learning. He uses google classroom in his own classroom and it has benefitted him and his students in preparing them for the world outside of schools and ensuring that they are set up for success.  Being able to see google classroom in action has reassured me that the program is pretty great and is beneficial not only to the students but to the teacher as well.

I was able to spend some time reading other’s posts in regards to google classroom this week and found them to be helpful and was able to relate to what was being said in their post as we are hoping to use google classroom as the platform for our project as well.  Jannae mentioned that google classroom can be beneficial for reminders for students, parents and teachers in regards to assignments, due dates etc.  She also made a good point saying that it provides students with a space where things can be re watched, or looked at more than once.   This is beneficial for students who may need to see/hear things several times before being able to make a connection, complete an assignment etc.  Google classroom also provides us with convenience, now students don’t have to haul around textbooks, there’s no excuses “I lost my homework or My dog ate my homework” etc.  Jannae also discussed the frustration that many students have when work is lost (aka via technology, got deleted, didn’t save etc.), google classroom ensures a smooth transition so that this is prevented from happening and students are getting credit where credit is due.  Lastly, she provided a wonderful overview of how to use google classroom, I found this helpful as I worked my way through the program itself.

13937052240_19c1ce4592_m

Roxanne, had a great post this week that obviously I was able to relate to as we will be working together for our project.  As I stated earlier and she mentioned in her post as well that meeting with a colleague to review google classroom was found to be very beneficial.  Through our learning together we found that google classroom can be a great tool for not only students, but parents and teachers as well.  Google classroom allows all parties to view assignments, due dates etc. which in turn could encourage accountability for our students.  Roxanne made a great point in stating google classroom can be accessed from a variety of sources and doesn’t have to be accessed only at school.  This could encourage our students to not only complete tasks at school but find ways of completing these things outside of our school environment as well.  We are trying to ensure that we are setting our students up for success, we want them to be engaged, successful citizens in our society and I believe this is a step in the right direction.

Benita had me laughing as I was reading her post.  For the record I was not laughing at her expense but at the fact that I myself have been in her shoes on several occasions and could totally relate to what she was talking about.  We have it all figured out the night of class, then when we need to figure it out on our own, bam, nothing works, it’s not as easy as it looked, what happened I could do this two nights ago? why won’t it work now!? This has happened to me on several occasions and has left me feeling frustrated, discouraged and incompetent perhaps is a good word.  I’m glad that for the sake of this project we are able to navigate and explore these programs in a group, this allows me to feel supported and not alone.  Benita did a great job of sharing the pro’s and con’s of google classroom.  Like any program everything will have pro’s and con’s, essentially it is up the the teacher decide if the pro’s outweigh the con’s and if this program will be beneficial for the teaching and learning in their specific classroom environment.

17134084760_5df5ba4da7_m

google classroom is a great program to use in our classrooms.  It allows technology to be brought into our environments in a positive fashion.  I was able to spend some time reading online as to why google classroom is great and should be used in our classrooms today.  This article suggests that it is a great tool for teachers because it gives us exposure to an online platform. It provides easy access to materials (for both the teacher and the students), Less paper (meaning environmentally friendly), less lost work (from both parties, teachers and students), and lastly engagement.  We are in a society where our children have grown up with technology and if we can find ways of incorporating technology into our classrooms to enhance their learning then all the better.  Overall, I think google classroom is a great program and am excited to continue learning with this tool as we work our way through our project this semester.  I am also confident that I will be able to use google classroom in my own teaching and learning now and in the future.  There are many reasons (as mentioned throughout the post) for incorporating google classroom into our experiences and am excited to see what the opportunities this will bring for me in my own classroom.


You get what you pay for

untitled
Source: PC Mag and Google, edited by me

This week I decided to try and work with Canvas as an alternative to Google Classroom as some of the accessibility issues were brought up in class (fun fact: I had my first international discussion with someone on Twitter about how to get more public access! I was impressed with my ability to connect with the wider world. Thanks @AliceKeeler!)

So, onto my review of Canvas.

giphy.gif
Source: Giphy

After I logged in for the first time, I was struck by the similarities between Google Classroom and Canvas. The layout of how classes are grouped was similar.

But, upon further investigation, the differences started to stand out. And that’s not necessarily in Canvas’ favour.

As I worked through adding information, assignments, discussions, and a syllabus to Canvas, I was struck by the fact that I had no idea of what my class would look like to a student and I wasn’t sure how I would check.

This is what I see as a teacher:

cavnas.png
Screenshot

Is this what students see? How can I find out? If this is what students see, I’m unimpressed. To me, it looks cluttered and intimidating. There are almost too many options. For a student, I’m not sure I would know what to do without very specific instructions and modeling.

Logan mentioned some really pertinent points about the integration of “revolutionary” tools. There really aren’t any, proprietary or otherwise. Yes, it has Google Drive access and Twitter integration, but it lacks finesse with those tools.

Audrey Watters’ post about LMS really challenged the way I was approaching the content and the structure.  A big plus to Canvas is the openness of it and the ability to leave the course “open” so students can access it beyond the course’s technical end date. In this way, students are more central to the learning occurring. It seems the Watters’ post had a significant impact

weiner.png
Picture Source: SheKnows, edited by me

HOWEVER, I’m not sure I’ll be using Canvas in the near future, due to the fact that my division subscribes to the Google Apps for Education. That fact simply cannot be surmounted. I have access to all kinds of tools and my students are “walled” into the Google Classroom through the division’s purchases.

As my title suggests, in this case, I get what I (my division) pays for. Canvas looks similar to Google Classroom, but with further investigation, I find myself drawn back to Google’s monopoly of apps and programs. I just cannot get past the fact that Google offers more helpful tools for teachers through Google Docs and parental/guardian access.

So, I enjoyed my sojourn through different LMSes and have a couple more that I want to explore (thanks, Amy!), but for now, Google is king.

4_d01606c248aa5aa4f72784d5b64bcef4
Source: Lazy Grace

Searching for a LMS site? Let’s “Canvas” the area!

Welcome, this is without a doubt my best title yet, if I do say so myself.

Today’s discussion will focus on the choice of service for our major project this semester.  After some deliberation, Nicole Brown and I have decided to forge ahead with Canvas.  While I am certainly new to this website and to Learning Management Systems as a whole, I wanted to highlight three (3!)

//giphy.com/embed/3o72F6YGp6OuQNKuVq

via GIPHY

 

Three Key Features:

Multiple Choice Questions allow for formative feedback.

Multiple Choice Questions allow for further feedbackI wanted to learn about how the quiz questions

worked so I created a couple questions from Act I of Macbeth and inserted them into program.  Early on, I realized that under each possible answer I could leave a comment.  Traditionally, Multiple Choice questions are seen as low level memorization questions.  However, the format that Canvas offers allows me to use each question as a learning/reinforcement opportunity.

Outcomes are clearly displayed

A current major focus with Regina Catholic Schools right now is the emphasis of clear outcomes and indicators from the Saskatchewan Curriculum. The Canvas website allows you to post your outcomes for all to see, as well as any extra explanation you want to give in order to enhance the understanding of your students.

 

 

Discussion Threads

discussionThe final Canvas aspect that I want to highlight in my (admittedly brief) time on the site is possibility of discussion threads.  In the picture, you can see that one of the great aspects is that students must reply to the prompt before they can see the replies of their classmates.  This ensures that everyone is coming to their own conclusion instead of simply copying.  Once the students have replied, they are free to comment on each other’s posts and create a collegial atmosphere on the website.

 

Important Question Yet to be Discovered:

The most important question so far is the one that I am still unable to answer, and that is, how effectively can this site be used by the students?

My main priority when choosing a major project topic was to pick something that I was not only passionate about, but also something that I could integrate into my classrooms to enhance the learning of the students.

As I proceed further in the project, I hope to test out the site with some of my students and get their feedback on what they do and do not like.  These decisions will help shape whether I continue to use Canvas for years to come or if I leave in search of a new Learning Management System

Final Verdict: To Be Determined…

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I am only in the initial stages of planning our major project.  While I am happy with the opportunities that the Canvas Learning Management System provides, I cannot provide a decisive verdict until the project is complete and I am totally comfortable with the site’s capabilities.

Until then, I would love to hear what you, my colleagues, think of the site (if you chose to use it) and what are some of your favorite options, as well as your perceived drawbacks to the site.

Thanks again, and I’ll see you in the comments.

 


Let’s get this started!

Hello everyone and welcome back!

So today, I’m going to be talking a little about my course prototype project. As of right now, I’ve only got a couple of rough ideas, but I’m hoping that by reading more of your blogs and thinking out loud, I can perhaps come closer to a conclusive route.

Back to the ol’ drawing board
SOURCE: GIPHY

I’ve paired up with my classmates and coworkers Jaymee and Roxanne. We decided to take the blended learning approach, applying it to middle years ELA (specifically grade 6).

Now, there’s a big reason why I personally want to explore this specific subject. For one, I teach grade 6, so I’m quite aware of what students of this age find appealing, and more importantly, what they are more likely receptive to. Secondly, kids love technology. I love technology. So shouldn’t this just…work?

Right?
SOURCE: GIPHY

Well, the more I think about it, the more trouble I have trying to come up with effective ways to construct a blended learning course as we would see in this example.

Reading through Stephen Downes’ post gave me some interesting insight on the difference between personal and personalized learning. The following quote breaks it up quite nicely:

Personalized learning is like being served at a restaurant. Someone else selects the food and prepares it. There is some customization – you can tell the waiter how you want your meat cooked – but essentially everyone at the restaurant gets the same experience.

Personal learning is like shopping at a grocery store. You need to assemble the ingredients yourself and create your own meals. It’s harder, but it’s a lot cheaper, and you can have an endless variety of meals. Sure, you might not get the best meals possible, but you control the experience, and you control the outcome.

What’s cookin’ good lookin’?
SOURCE: GIPHY

Keeping this analogy in mind, I realize that my classroom definitely leans more towards Downes’ interpretation of personalized learning. Although I am providing my students with options (including the use of digital resources and tools), ultimately, they’re all getting the same thing (with minor changes here and there to cater to some of their personal needs).

The way I see it, blended learning should be catering to students’ needs in more ways than this. Essentially, I should be providing my students with a space to explore at their own rhythm, according to their own learning styles, capacities, interests and so on and so forth. I’d love to say that I do these things, but I don’t…which leaves me wondering, how on earth I can change this?

I dunno…
SOURCE: GIPHY

The video we watched in class last week gave me so many ideas, but as I sat there watching, I realized that a lot of the things they were doing in the video would require a full-blown reconstruction of my classroom. The video is idealistic, and is obviously showing us what we can do, given that we have the resources, materials and the technology available for all students. For what it’s worth, the video gave me a better sense of what all this means.

After reading up on the SAMR model, I realized that whenever I’m using technology in the classroom, I’m rarely ever doing anything groundbreaking. My goal with this project is to actually come up with some concrete ideas on how to redefine the way I use technology in the classroom.
SAMR MODEL IMAGE SOURCE

Continue reading