Monthly Archives: March 2017

Winding Down our Course Prototypes

Learning about blended and online learning has been something very new to me. I find that writing a blog post about new concepts is challenging and often time, overwhelming.


Photo Credit: AuthenticAng11 Flickr via Compfight cc

For myself, I have only experienced online classes with Alec and Katia’s EC&I courses. Other than that, one of my master’s classes used UR Courses as a message board and for sharing content.

This semester, I have continued to learn something new every week and realized that the saying “The more you know, the more you realize you don’t know, ” continues to be very true!

As EC&I 834 winds down, the finishing touches have been added to our course prototypes, changes have been made and modules have been added.

For myself, I switched what I had originally planned to do. Needless to say, I felt a tad bit panicky! For my course module, I was in charge of planning the introduction to Genius Hour. I planned to create a slideshow on Google Slides and then I would create a screencast. I soon realized that this would not require 5-15 minutes of content AND the introduction is supposed to HOOK the learner.

Luckily, my class had been working on creating an iMovie in Language Arts and I had made an iMovie trailer once before, so I felt confident enough to give it a try.  It went very well and I was able to use many of my own photos in the video. I didn’t want to have to worry about having to credit all the photos, so this plan worked out splendidly!

Take a look!

If you are interested in trying Genius Hour in your classroom, you will want to check out our Course Prototype. You will find modules that also cover, Digital Citizenship, coming up with “Your Driving Question,” the importance of “Quality Research,” “Presentation Tools,” and “Assessment.”

If you would like to leave a comment, please click on the title!


It’s Been A Slice!

Done is Done!! The course prototype I must say was a very time consuming, in depth assignment.

Photo Credit: Wulf Dieter Vogl Flickr via Compfight cc

I appreciated the openness of it, however, at times felt somewhat confused or hesitant as to whether or not we were on the right track.  I was very fortunate to be working with two wonderful people who were open to ideas, loved a challenge and were very creative.  As Katherine mentioned she felt like she bombarded Alec and Katia with questions and concerns in regards to the course prototype project throughout the semester, however, I am thankful that she did as many questions and concerns that others had in regards to the project were similar to our concerns as well.

Photo Credit: cfdtfep Flickr via Compfight cc

As we made our way through the course it was evident that the project could be completed in steps as we were learning important information on a weekly basis that could be directly applied to our projects.  Katherine also mentioned that she was a little bit of a procrastinator, I must admit that I used to be however, with two children at home I need to plan my time wisely and having such great group members also kept me on track with what needed to get done.

Andres spoke to our prototype in his blog this week and did a wonderful job in describing our experience using Google classroom.  As he mentioned we didn’t really shop around or test out other LMS platforms.  We were all pretty set on using Google Classroom as we have all used a variety of google apps, resources, technology etc.

Photo Credit: Teknobeyin Flickr via Compfight cc

I was very happy with the end result of our platform.  Andres is more of a visual person so for him he thought this platform could have been more visually appealing in how the information and modules were presented.  For my personality I thought it was great.  I am the kind of person that makes lists just so I can cross things off, so the set up for Google Classroom was great for me.

Photo Credit: liz_rowell Flickr via Compfight cc

Dre also mentioned that there was little room for customization.  Being that this was my first time using Google classroom not having too many options to do things was perfect as I tend to get overwhelmed easily, especially with new technologies, apps, etc.  One downfall of the program that I think all of our group members found was the editing.  Dre was the first to enter information into our Google Classroom and pre warned us about editing.  He said don’t spend a lot of time editing and making it look pretty prior to pasting into Google Classroom as it has its own formatting and will adjust and change your work anyways.  Was he ever right, and it was frustrating as there are things that I wanted to be bolded etc. but was unable to do so.  A lot of time was spent editing already written information.  Perhaps the intent of Google Classroom is not to create your work in another document and to create the assignments, modules etc. right in Google Classroom, that way this would avoid the tedious task of editing all your work.  Overall, I found Google Classroom to be a pretty straightforward LMS, easy to use and user friendly.  This assignment was fun in the sense that we were able to create things that were applicable to us in our teaching and made me realize that creating content can be fun.  Creating all units from scratch and everything on your own would be a very time consuming task and could be next to impossible if one was expected to work a full time job teaching, living their personal life and creating online classes.  Oh Wait!! I’m assuming this is what Alec and Katia were expected to do for this course this semester as it is a new course… hmm.. how did you guys do it!?

Stephanie mentioned this week that she was having mixed emotions as the end is coming to a near.  Like Stephanie, I also enjoyed our weekly meetings in the zoom room.  The zoom room was my escape from everything else in my life, somewhere I was able to feel comfortable, confident and continue my learning journey.  This semester has been a learning curve in many ways and I am very thankful to have had the opportunity to be a part of such a wonderful online community.

Photo Credit: LINsAD Flickr via Compfight cc

This class has enabled me to feel confident in my technology abilities (aka the use of technology and incorporating technology into my classrooms).  I look forward to seeing everyone’s prototypes, summary of learnings and hope that although our zoom room meetings have come to an end that we can still support one another and stay in touch!

It’s been a slice!

Photo Credit: Abayburina Flickr via Compfight cc

Closing Scene of Macbeth Prototype

Today’s blog post will focus on the process of finishing our course prototype.  Together with my partner Nicole, we worked hard to create a blended unit for teaching Macbeth in an ELA B10 classroom.

Photo Credit

If I were to sum up the process in one word,  I would describe this assignment as rewarding.  My favourite part of this assignment was how well it translated to my own classroom.

Too often in university, work is given that while it may be enlightening, it does not often translate to the classroom.  However, this assignments works perfectly, because upon completion of the course project, I am ready to integrate it into my classrooms.

Another enjoyable part of the process was creating the video modules.  After watching a number of examples, we decided to create five different modules in the form of a Crash Course video.  I found this process to be quite enjoyable and easy to edit with the iMovie program.  In fact, in the future I plan to have my own students create teaching sections using iMovie or MovieMaker.

Finally, I look forward to viewing the course prototypes of my fellow students to see where we are similar and where we differ.  Thankfully we get to do this in the upcoming week to see how my fellow classmates chose to set up their course profiles.

Until next time,

 

 


Treaty Education ready to launch in 5,4,3,2,1!!!!

Photo Credit: jurvetson Flickr via Compfight cc

Wow, hard to believe that my course prototype is ready to launch.  It is even crazier to think that the semester has flown by so quickly, when it’s over I will have another 2 classes under my belt.  I decided that I wanted to finish up Grad School before I returned to teaching in August from my maternity leave.  I will also attempt a spring and then a summer course and tada, I will be finee, I will level up with my Masters Degree. On a side note I can’t believe my baby is six months old, where have the days gone.

Photo Credit: codehobbits

Aimee, Justine, Rochelle and I decided that we wanted to focus our course prototype on Treaty Relationships. This subject can sometimes become difficult for teachers to implement in their classrooms. I personally think that now is the time for reconciliation because there is so much ignorance and mis-education when it comes to First Nations and Treaties. Also, working in a school that is home to 97% First Nation students is reason enough to explore First Nation culture.

Photo Credit: *Ken Lane* Flickr via Compfight cc

I am looking forward to exploring another groups course prototype in just a few short days.  It will be very helpful to receive some constructive criticism about our prototype, this will help us improve.  I am not worried about being evaluated by my colleges as we are the guinea pigs for this EC&I 834 course, this is the first time that it was offered by Alec  and Katia.

I have definitely learned a lot in terms of how to get a LMS up and running. I had never worked with Google Classroom before and found it very simple to use.  I was even more shocked that I could have been using it for awhile with my Division but was never given any training on it or was it even mentioned as an option. My school uses Google Docs and Google Forms quite often but again I was unaware of Classroom.  However, my step daughter spoke about using it in her high school. Perhaps, I should have just Googled it and I would have figured it out for myself a year ago.  I mentioned in a previous blog about how I was using Google Docs with my students and it was becoming redundant in terms of creating Docs and having them share assignments with me, and basically my email inbox busting from student work. After this course I am very comfortable working with Google Classroom and feel that I will continue to create courses with it.

Photo Credit: derekbruff Flickr via Compfight cc

After we decided to use Google Classroom as our LMS, it was just a matter of how and what I wanted to do with my module.  I had a few ideas in terms of lessons and just like my life I tend to overthink it and make it very complicated. My module grew to be something more than one lesson, maybe one lesson with four parts.  It just seemed to flow so nicely together, I could not stop. I decided to make a few Screen-casts to familiarize students with Adobe Spark, Google Docs, Google Draw and Story Jumper, as for original content I used a Voice Over PowerPoint. I had never used some of the content creation tools myself so doing screen-casts allowed me to gain more experience in it. After I got the hang of all the new stuff that I was dabbling in, it wasn’t all that terrifying. In fact, I was even excited to use Screencastify, and show off my new learning to my step daughter, she wasn’t as excited as I was.

I think that my group did an amazing job tackling Treaty Education. It will be awesome to find out what other think about it too.  If you are interested in taking a peak at our Grade 3 Treaty Education Prototype in Google Classroom send me an email at Chalyn_s@hotmail.com and I  will provide you the classroom code.

 


The quirks of using Google Classroom: Finishing up our prototype

What’s up!
SOURCE: GIPHY

Hello everyone and welcome back!

So this week we were asked to talk about our prototypes before we hand them in. Taking a step back from our project, I can safely say that we’re done. I’m happy with the content and I’m really excited about some of the ideas we brought into the project.

Soooo excited!
SOURCE: GIPHY

Today, I will be focusing on the LMS we chose to work with: Google Classroom. I’ll be filling you in on some of my thoughts and criticisms about this platform; hopefully giving you some insight on whether or not you should use it in your own classroom or not.

After reading a couple of my classmates’ posts this week, I found it really interesting to see what types of obstacles they went through during their own process. Bill for example talks a lot about the trial and error process that goes into figuring out what types of tools he wanted to use and implement for his prototype. I think it’s a great idea to look over your options and figure out exactly what you want to gain out of your experience working with these types of tools; after all, once you start, there’s not much room to go back and restart.

Why you should always try it before you buy it
SOURCE: GIPHY

Jaymee, Roxanne and I all settled with Google Classroom without actually shopping around for another type of LMS platform. Our reasoning behind this decision was that we already use a wide range of Google apps, tools and products; using Classroom was sort of a natural and logical choice for us.

Would I use Google Classroom again in the future? Maybe… but I guess this is where Bill’s experience got me thinking about shopping around FIRST and getting to know how other platforms work BEFORE settling on a final choice.

Is that your final answer?
SOURCE: GIPHY

In reality however, this is easier said than done. Reading a few past blog posts, I noticed that Katherine has been using several different LMS’s in her actual classes. In a matter of fact, for her ELA and Psychology classes, she’s been using MOODLE and GOOGLE CLASSROOM. That’s extremely impressive, and she had a few reasons for these choices:

However, I had to think of how to set up information in an organized and fluid way, since students need to retain a lot of information. Moodle offers an online ‘binder’, where I can organize content, embed YouTube videos, and provide a place to ask questions. I also wanted an easy way to collect and give immediate feedback on assignments, so I decided to create a Google Classroom and students hand in assignments on that platform rather than Moodle.

Just from reading Kathrine’s blog post, I gained a lot of important knowledge on the pros and cons for Moodle and Classroom. If you’re wondering about these things yourself, I highly suggest reading her post, because not only is it just AWESOME, it gave me some ideas on when to use certain LMS’s.

So many ideas!
SOURCE: GIPHY

Although I am happy with our prototype, I would have liked a more visually and aesthetically pleasing LMS. I found that Google Classroom was a little boring in the way it presents information and modules. There’s little room for customization and it doesn’t really allow you to get “Wild” with anything. I feel like you should be able to just drag things around and place them wherever you want…Google Classroom definitely doesn’t allow for any of that type of maneuverability, which in my opinion is a major flaw.

Why can’t I customize!?
SOURCE: GIPHY

I’d like to attest the customizability of other LMS’s, but I simply don’t have the knowledge to back up my claims.

At one point, I must have spent about an hour copying, pasting and formatting text in my course profile to make it look as organized as possible. I aligned everything, added bold text wherever it was needed, and organized everything so that it would be easy to read and navigate through. When I hit “save” in the editing box, everything went back to this awful messy clump of text. What a waste of time.

Everything’s falling apart!!!
SOURCE: GIPHY

I found that Google Classroom did a lot of this. After a little trial and (a lot of) error, I came to the conclusion that you CANNOT edit or format your text at all in this LMS. This is a HUGE bummer to me. I’m a visual guy. I like things to look GREAT. If you aren’t allowing me to format and edit things the way I want them to look, then you’re definitely going to lose me.

Bye Bye
SOURCE: GIPHY

I know I’m focusing a lot of attention on this one factor, but as far as aesthetics go, this project could have looked WAY cooler than it does if we were to have used a different LMS. It’s a small mistake that I’m not going to focus more attention on, but it’s definitely something I would CHANGE for next time. So yeah…my verdict: If you don’t mind not having much control over how things look and you just want to get the job done, GOOGLE CLASSROOM is for you baby! But if you’re looking to get fancy (which is what I like to do), then go somewhere else.

I’m out!
SOURCE: GIPHY

The lack of any sort of settings menus really bothered me too. I like to change things around, and this LMS simply does not offer any of this. It’s straight forward…which is obviously a pro, but also a con, depending on who you are I guess.

As for everything else, like I said, Classroom was an easy to use, user-friendly LMS that got the job done.

The biggest thing I took out of this process WAS IN FACT to SHOP AROUND. I’m happy with the content we created, but perhaps a different LMS could have really made things shine a little brighter.

Who doesn’t like shopping?
SOURCE: GIPHY

Overall, I learned that creating modules can be tedious and time consuming work. I applaud anyone who is legitimately implementing blended learning in their classroom. I mean, to create all your units from scratch would simply be insane…you would HAVE to find already made material that you eventually replace with your own over time.

I think if that were to be my sole responsibility in my job (to plan units), I WOULD ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT. But, as we all know, adding teaching to the mix takes away a lot of your time and energy to properly execute these things.

Creating content is quickly becoming something I’m enjoying more and more, and would love to continue doing so as much as possible. I had a blast making my artifact, and am looking forward to completing my summary of learning as well.

Before leaving you all today, here is my artifact for my module that I made for our prototype. I love doing this sort of stuff and am looking forward to doing a lot more of it in my own classroom from now on.

Thanks for reading my post this week and I hope you all have a great weekend!

Dre


There is Light !

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Photo Credit: Noah Bolton Flickr via Compfight cc

Light is beginning to shine on our project that was previously in the dark.  Where there were once questions about what it would look like, they have now been satisfied with concrete evidence.  There were some curves along the way, but one thing remained constant – the steadfast, helpful, collaborative nature of both Ellen and Sam in this project of ours.

Only a few weeks ago we decided together that Google Classroom was not the platform we ultimately wanted to use.  We started to populate our prototype on Google Classroom and it just didn’t shape up the way we wanted it to look.  We all agreed that although it was late to be changing our platform –  we really wanted it to be more appealing, more colorful and  interesting to grade three students. As well, we wanted it to be very easy for them to navigate.  Once we decided to make a platform switch, our unanimous decision was to go with what we know – WordPress.  This platform has all the features we were looking for : easy to use, straightforward, colorful, simple to navigate etc.

Once we made the move over to WordPress, everything just started to unfold beautifully.  I am most happy with the visual appearance.  I am a visual person myself, and am drawn in by color and beauty.  I think many students are visual learners as well and will be enticed by the interesting colorful pictures on the site we have created.

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Photo Credit: pburka Flickr via Compfight cc

A personal benefit from the move to WordPress has been the comfort and familiarity with the logistics of how to import and source videos and pictures. I have noticed how quickly many of my colleagues can click and move things around on a computer. I have come a long way but still consider myself to be more towards the early part of this learning continuum.  I am happy with how our prototype looks and am grateful to my partners in this project.

Happy GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Via Gify

I have to agree with Elizabeth this week.  In her blog she talks about how difficult it is to put all the pieces together even though you have already chosen those pieces.  Then there is the need to double check that what has been chosen is a match to the assignment criteria.  Of course, all the while remembering to make sure the format works for the intended audience. There are so many variables to consider when putting together the pieces of this ‘prototype’ puzzle.

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Photo Credit: Nicola since 1972 Flickr via Compfight cc

I have checked and double checked to make sure that my links work.  That said, we all know computers – sometimes there are little glitches for no apparent reason. I needed to rework my ‘voice’ in the lessons because I discovered I needed to establish consistency.  Initially I had vacillated between talking directly to gr. 3 children and adding in comments for teachers who might want to use the module.

Then there’s the element of group dynamics – when to get together (and how). Our online meetings have all worked out well, but for me it has taken some getting used to. Each person comes to a group project wanting to explore their own ideas while honoring the thoughts/idea/wishes of others. Group work develops certain relationship skills. After all – isn’t that why we encourage our own students to participate in group work.

I know this is an online course and we have very easy tools to facilitate online meetings. I have to admit that I have become more comfortable with getting together with my group online – but out of curiosity… I am wondering if you got together for ‘online’ or face to face group meetings?  And… which do you prefer if you have a choice?


And so it went.

This semester has flown by unbelievably fast. I can’t believe it’s almost April, though where I am, spring seems to have forgotten us.

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I’ve completed my course prototype and I think it was absolutely worth it. When Katia and Alec first described what the course prototype would be, I was excited for the final project.

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via Giphy

Finally, something that I could use beyond the class ending.  This was infinitely a better final assignment than a long-winded essay on something I wouldn’t care about two days from the class ending.

Figuring out what I wanted to do and how took much less time than I feared. Because I have access to GAFE, I knew I wanted to use Google Classroom. I felt this would have the greatest impact on my future teaching because I would actually be building something I could use and reuse.

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via UConn

Once I had established how, I needed to focus on the what. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to work on perfecting a class I’ve taught a million times (I’m looking at you, ELA 9) or work on a class I’ve only taught a handful of times (ELA B30 and ELA 20).

I decided that while I have time and patience (well, some of each), that I should work on a course that I don’t have as many resources for. So, my unit introduction on Hamlet began.

I used elements of the unit I’ve taught previously, but wanted to challenge myself to make it more accessible and less dependent on being in class, so I experimented with iMovie.

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via Dribble

I have zero — and I mean ZERO — experience video making or editing beyond my Summary of Learning for EC&I 830. I’ve always thought video editing was too picky and time-consuming for my taste.

I started by experimenting with the trailer function of iMovie and found it ridiculously easy to use. So, I started putting together my video for the Hamlet introduction by creating a presentation with all of the information, screenshot (screenshotted?) all the slides and put my video together.

I really learned a lot about the editing power of iMovie as I had to make sure my voiceover matched the length I had chosen for my pictures and how to make them equal.

I think I’ve found a new love in iMovie.

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via Giphy

This process has really made me think about how I’m presenting content in my class: how easily is what I’ve asked my students to do translatable to other mediums? Can a word doc become something more? Can a lecture become something else? How hands on is my content? Are there opportunities for revision?

All in all, I’ve enjoyed this final project more than any other one I’ve encountered in my grad studies because I’m able to use it right away and it is something I created for myself for my practice rather than for a professor and their practice (sorry, Alec and Katia). A highly selfish project, but also the best project.


Openness and Me

Ainsley Marylinn
First let me start off by apologizing and sharing my reason (OK it's an excuse for not having done my blog on time, but I think its a good one!). Last Tuesday we had our second little girl. We named her Ainsley Marilynn and I spent most of my week helping my wife and trying to keep everything running in our lives smoothly. With all that I ran out of time/energy to make sure this blog was done before then next class. Thank you all for the well wishes and congratulations.


When I think about my experiences with open online spaces in the realm of education I have to admit that the only times I have been involved in an open setting would be within the courses designed by Alec and Katia throughout my graduate degree program. I have been involved and I teach in a closed environment for the most part. Occasionally I have ventured out and used my twitter account to ask for advice, or participated in a group designed multi-school activity #eggdrop. But I really haven't ventured out of my safe (closed) settings of Google classroom or URCourses very often.

Through my limited experience of the Ed Tech classes I have found that there is a huge opportunity to learn through an open space. For my personal learning I feel that Working in Open Spaces has broadened my horizons and given me opportunities and connections I would never have had prior to these classes. I also feel that you get what you put in. I have not utilized twitter as much as I have in previous classes and I am noticing my depth of understanding of the concepts we are moving throughout this semester is lacking, I would say that this is because of my inability to spend the time in the open space and interact with my PLN through blogging and twitter that I have worked to set up. I believe that the authenticity of learning is upon the learner at all times, but it is more prevalent within an open course concept. I am a big believer in "you get what you put in" ideology. Within the open learning space, the learner is in control of what they take in, therefore to answer the question of "Is authenticity guaranteed if we open the conversation to the world?" My answer would be yes, depending on you ability to discern between appropriate and authentic information. What I mean by that is, if the information you are receiving from your PLN is substantiated and you trust the information to be true, then yes, your learning is authentic and meaningful.

Within my teaching I look at what is appropriate for students in the middle years (grades 7/8). This is an age where many of the students want to be treated like adults, but are still immature and need to be treated with caution. Currently, I have not opened my classroom up to an open space, yet. I would like to branch out and begin interacting online to help my students learn our science concepts at a deeper level, along with aiding in the extending of the learning for my high achieving students. My number one concern is the safety of my students. Not necessarily the physical safety, but more the mental and digital safety of my students. I feel that I will be able to begin diving into the open learning spaces with my students through the science curriculum because I feel that it will give us the opportunity to connect with experts in the field easily, but also safely. Science is a subject that is generally clear cut at the middle years level and the answers can be found with little opportunity for any prejudice, or negative interaction occurring. I would like to eventually feel confident enough in my ability as a leader in technology within my own classroom that we can begin to branch out and blog/tweet about more social justice issues and become more involved with the more sensitive topics.

Photo Credit: Open Learning
I am fortunate to work in a community where there is a high access to technology and the possibility for interaction within an open course environment is very much available in terms of the hardware/infrastructure side of things. My concerns will come from my administration and the parents of my students. From my administration, they will want to make sure I have thought about the safety of my students and I have thought of how to problem solve a variety of scenarios before I even begin so that when the conversation begins with the parents I am ready to explain the need, purpose and how I am going to ensure the safety of my students. I feel most of my parents will be supportive, but their number one concern will be the safety of their child, and their second concern will be, how I will monitor the online activity to ensure there is learning occurring and it is not a waste of time. There will also be some educating of the parents around why open education is important and will be beneficial for their child.

In terms of how I am going to ensure safety of my students I will teach about digital citizenship with a major focus on the negatives and the dangers around being online, and creating an online identity. Utilizing sources that share information around Teachers Guide to Keeping Students Safe Online with both the students and parents will be a crucial portion of the pre-learning.  I will most likely even host an evening around digital citizenship to share and teach the parents about monitoring their children's online activity and how to openly talk to them about what they are doing online.  

Openness and Me

Ainsley Marylinn
First let me start off by apologizing and sharing my reason (OK it's an excuse for not having done my blog on time, but I think its a good one!). Last Tuesday we had our second little girl. We named her Ainsley Marilynn and I spent most of my week helping my wife and trying to keep everything running in our lives smoothly. With all that I ran out of time/energy to make sure this blog was done before then next class. Thank you all for the well wishes and congratulations.


When I think about my experiences with open online spaces in the realm of education I have to admit that the only times I have been involved in an open setting would be within the courses designed by Alec and Katia throughout my graduate degree program. I have been involved and I teach in a closed environment for the most part. Occasionally I have ventured out and used my twitter account to ask for advice, or participated in a group designed multi-school activity #eggdrop. But I really haven't ventured out of my safe (closed) settings of Google classroom or URCourses very often.

Through my limited experience of the Ed Tech classes I have found that there is a huge opportunity to learn through an open space. For my personal learning I feel that Working in Open Spaces has broadened my horizons and given me opportunities and connections I would never have had prior to these classes. I also feel that you get what you put in. I have not utilized twitter as much as I have in previous classes and I am noticing my depth of understanding of the concepts we are moving throughout this semester is lacking, I would say that this is because of my inability to spend the time in the open space and interact with my PLN through blogging and twitter that I have worked to set up. I believe that the authenticity of learning is upon the learner at all times, but it is more prevalent within an open course concept. I am a big believer in "you get what you put in" ideology. Within the open learning space, the learner is in control of what they take in, therefore to answer the question of "Is authenticity guaranteed if we open the conversation to the world?" My answer would be yes, depending on you ability to discern between appropriate and authentic information. What I mean by that is, if the information you are receiving from your PLN is substantiated and you trust the information to be true, then yes, your learning is authentic and meaningful.

Within my teaching I look at what is appropriate for students in the middle years (grades 7/8). This is an age where many of the students want to be treated like adults, but are still immature and need to be treated with caution. Currently, I have not opened my classroom up to an open space, yet. I would like to branch out and begin interacting online to help my students learn our science concepts at a deeper level, along with aiding in the extending of the learning for my high achieving students. My number one concern is the safety of my students. Not necessarily the physical safety, but more the mental and digital safety of my students. I feel that I will be able to begin diving into the open learning spaces with my students through the science curriculum because I feel that it will give us the opportunity to connect with experts in the field easily, but also safely. Science is a subject that is generally clear cut at the middle years level and the answers can be found with little opportunity for any prejudice, or negative interaction occurring. I would like to eventually feel confident enough in my ability as a leader in technology within my own classroom that we can begin to branch out and blog/tweet about more social justice issues and become more involved with the more sensitive topics.

Photo Credit: Open Learning
I am fortunate to work in a community where there is a high access to technology and the possibility for interaction within an open course environment is very much available in terms of the hardware/infrastructure side of things. My concerns will come from my administration and the parents of my students. From my administration, they will want to make sure I have thought about the safety of my students and I have thought of how to problem solve a variety of scenarios before I even begin so that when the conversation begins with the parents I am ready to explain the need, purpose and how I am going to ensure the safety of my students. I feel most of my parents will be supportive, but their number one concern will be the safety of their child, and their second concern will be, how I will monitor the online activity to ensure there is learning occurring and it is not a waste of time. There will also be some educating of the parents around why open education is important and will be beneficial for their child.

In terms of how I am going to ensure safety of my students I will teach about digital citizenship with a major focus on the negatives and the dangers around being online, and creating an online identity. Utilizing sources that share information around Teachers Guide to Keeping Students Safe Online with both the students and parents will be a crucial portion of the pre-learning.  I will most likely even host an evening around digital citizenship to share and teach the parents about monitoring their children's online activity and how to openly talk to them about what they are doing online.  

Online Open Education in Grade 4/5? Hmmm…

Like Jayme-Lee shared, I also do not have experiences with open online courses. So I will focus on how my grade level affects the choices that we (my team teaching partner Lisa and I) make as educators when considering the possibilities for open course environments. It is clear that there are many benefits, as well as challenges to open online forms. For myself, the unknown is hard to imagine in a grade 4/5 classroom.

Throughout discussions and chats read in class, I found it difficult to connect with a lot of open online forms because they are unfamiliar to me. Throughout my own education, I have experienced face to face classes at the University of Regina for every one of my undergrad classes AND 5 grad classes. Due to my lack of experience,  I feel a bit out of the loop after reading the chat messages and hearing about all of the widespread experiences of everyone in ECI834. There seems to be many class members who have participated in an open online course and/or discussion board.

I enjoyed reading Andres’ post about his experiences and suggestions for open communication boards. He shares a personal story and includes the benefits of this form, as well as the challenges of having it in a classroom. One challenge being that a moderator/facilitator would have to be reading the comments regularly. How would that be managed?

I often don’t even comment on open online social media sites when a topic is controversial because I’m not comfortable with the unknown of who might be out there. The few times I have commented, I end up thinking, “Why did I even bother?” The comments that some people write and feel are acceptable as well as the trolling occurring online is scary, to say the least. Do I want to put myself out there? According to one of Alec’s tweets, “How Complacent Are You?” I am complacent! Apparently, I need to step up my game!

Photo Credit: Gatto Mimmo Flickr via Compfight cc

As far as in my classroom, Lisa and I have been building a blended learning environment as we feel comfortable tackling new tools, always keeping in mind the size of our our classroom and the number of devices available.  Of course, this is a challenge because we have limited access to computers and 47 students. So far, we are managing it as best as we can!

In addition to blogging, online reading sites and educational apps, we introduced Google Apps this year. It was a learning curve for sure, but I really think it has been valuable for the students. They love being in control of their own learning and race to the computer cart (figuratively, of course). They walk quietly to the computer cart and get started right away. Ha Ha!

The students are now learning how to navigate in google docs, google classroom, gmail, and google slides. Those who learn quicker or have experience, are happy to help out other classmates so they don’t fall behind. Parents have the opportunity to see their child’s progress at home (if there is a device and/or internet). Considering that nearly all grade 4’s are new to Google Apps at Dr. Hanna School they are doing very well!

I don’t really use online open forms because of my grade level but I’m always willing to have an open mind. I found an edutopia article about Online Educational Resources with numerous ideas and options for students. Something I will now have an open mind about for next year and the remainder of this school year. Here is “Why Open Education Matters.”

One change I would like to make next year at our first parent/teacher/student conference is to take a few minutes to share each child’s blog address information right away. Seeing their child’s blog and progress first hand will help to ‘bring them on board’ to online learning even more. This year, parents were sent home a note as well as, inviting them to Class Dojo. Most parents are loving class dojo because communication is so much easier. They also can see work posted directly to their child’s portfolio page, similar to Seesaw. But with blogging, I have some changes I would like to make to encourage participation by family members as well as students in the classroom. Most students really enjoy writing in their blogs and love to receive comments from their peers, family members and teachers.

I’m willing to continue learning more about open online learning opportunities. For now, I will keep building our Grade 4/5 blended learning environment and look forward to trying more and more new tools along the way.

Would you have your grade 4 or 5 students share their blogs on an open online platform?

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