Monthly Archives: September 2017

A Whole Can of Worms.

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Source: Giphy

This idea of posting online is such a can of worms in elementary and secondary teaching. There are so many implications, both obvious and more subtle.

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Photo via: Heart Sisters

Posting class achievements and online work online is a way to show the world what educators do, which often occurs behind closed doors. Educating students can be a very isolated event and teachers can sometimes feel maligned by various interest groups. Teaching is an emotional labour and showing the fruits of that labour can feel really validating. It proves that teaching is an essential job and that students are learning things, despite it not being in a traditional fashion, like perhaps their parents and grandparents learned.

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Photo via: Getting Smart

Students can feel value in their learning by seeing its applicability to the outside world: they can see immediately the impact what they do has on others and see other’s responses to their work.In this way students are exposed to the wider world, beyond their closed classroom doors. This prepares them in many ways for life after high school.

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Photo via: Steven Smith

The world of work is in many ways about how you connect and to whom you connect. Being able to more easily through the internet and understand the trail you leave is now an essential skill. Networking is no longer just circulating at a cocktail party in your hometown; you can now wander the globe, making contacts literally everywhere.

In my context, a high school English teacher, the task is to get them to understand the power of their words: not just in the sense of what they say, but how they say it. Being articulate and using proper conventions is important when trying to get your message out. Being able to sound like you know what you’re talking about is almost half the battle. Spelling and grammar have not disappeared. Sure we have spellcheck, but it doesn’t do everything. Proofreading is still an essential skill.

However, there are issues when it comes to blasting the internet with your latest literary essay.

Infrequently, but still enough times for me to pause and reconsider my practice, the issue of custody appears.

This happens in two forms: custody of the materials I’m posting and physical custody of the child.

 

Who owns what I’ve posted online? Do I own it because it was turned into me? Does the student own it because they created it? Does the school or school board own it because it was created using their materials/technology? If it were to generate an income, to whom would it be paid? The person who uploaded it or the person who created it or the entity that provided the opportunity?

The second potential issue is with physical custody. There have been situations in schools where there has been an acrimonious breakup and there have been protection orders issued. A child’s safety may be compromised by putting their artifacts online, which can be traced with a little bit of tech wizardry.

This letter from the Peel District School Board and this one for British Columbia teachers gives some guidelines for teachers to follow regarding what to put when. By providing protections for both staff and students, the online world can be explored.


To Tweet or Not to Tweet…

Choosing a narrow focus for my major project has been a bit challenging. I’ve bounced between a creating a project rooted out of passion or purpose and have ultimately decided to integrate something I’ve wanted to do within the classroom for a while now – exploring using Twitter in the classroom.

The “runner up” project idea was exploring photography. However, I feel integrating Twitter into my classroom is a perfect learning opportunity to explore something that I’ve been putting on the back burner and often feel “too busy” to take the time outside of university & work to explore.  It helps to have the time dedicated towards reading and exploring carved out each week as part of this class and gaining a deeper understanding and appreciation for Twitter may allow me to enhance my students learning experience and potentially result in my using this tool in my classroom in the years to come. To be honest, I’ve never completely “bought in” to the Twitter experience, but will admit I have yet to give it a solid chance.I want to explore Twitter, alongside my students, by reading, learning and playing around with different things without it feeling “forced”.  I want to feel more comfortable and confident navigating all of the possibilities Twitter affords. It’s time to stop putting it on the back burner and get started! The only way to learn is to try!

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Image via Denis Nguyen

One of the ongoing projects in my classroom involves finding a means of communicating with parents that really works. When I say really works, I mean engages the most amount of parents and keeps parents in the loop and involved in their child’s learning. For years I focused many hours each week on creating a weekly blog update. This blog included pictures, information, parent tips etc. This works well in some schools I’ve taught in, however my blog wasn’t receiving much traffic since moving to a community school. I knew I had to switch it up and try something different. This year I’ve decided to use class dojo as a main communication tool, and have created a classroom Twitter account that will replace my classroom blog. However, I don’t just want to use Twitter for parent communication, but rather spend some time learning how to use Twitter in different ways and for different purposes.

So many Inspiring Examples of Twitter in the Classroom!

Possible Avenues to Explore in my Major Project:
Tips for getting started
Teaching Digital Citizenship
Twitter Etiquette – Using Twitter in the classroom safely
Expand Learning Possibilities
Network & Collaborate beyond the classroom
Connect with Parents

If you have any suggestions for other key topics for me to dive into I’d love to hear them! Any feedback you may have is greatly appreciated!

 


Freedom and Choice

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Hi! My name is Kelsie Lenihan and this is my 9th Master’s course in Curriculum and Instruction. This is also my third Alec course.

I was initially a little hesitant to sign up for a social media course because 1) our lives are so dominated by social media, do I really want to add another layer on top of it? and 2) I’m not the most active on social media.

But I dove in. I want to learn more about how to use social media effectively, both personally and professionally. It seems like a big job to curate your online presence in a way where you control the message sent to the world about you.

As well, I have two young sons. I want to know how to make the social media world inviting and safe for them by helping them create their online identity early.

On the first day of class, when we were assigned the task of learning something new through exploring online help, I was stymied.

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Source: Giphy

There were just so many avenues and options. This is a huge opportunity to do something — anything — that you’ve always wanted to try but never had the time. Here is the time. You need to do this.

So I started asking around. Everyone had a different opinion. My art teacher friend insisted I learn how to paint, because she saw how “well” I did at a Paint Nite. I thought about cake decorating but that got a hard “no” from my husband, who would most likely have been responsible for the eating of the cake.

Finally, it was my three-year-old who made the decision for me.

He’s been starting to get together his wish list for Santa Claus (thank you, Costco, for having Christmas decorations out before Hallowe’en). One of the things he’s been after is called a Code-a-pillar. It’s a way to introduce coding to preschool children.

This started me thinking about why I would want my child to learn how to code at such a young age. It came to me that this is about 21st century learning — about preparing him for jobs that don’t yet exist and to get him familiar with technology so that he’s confident using it and can adapt to the massive shifts in learning that are happening right now.

Computer science is no longer just for nerds. It’s become part of the core curriculum rather than a hobby.

Because my children will probably have coding for homework, I want to be able to help them.

I know nothing about coding. Quite literally nothing. I am starting from ground zero. Well, not quite ground zero, because I’ve got Twitter.

I’ve got a place to start from, but I’m still struggling with the end product. Backward design is ingrained in me, so I am trying to figure out what success will look like. Do I want to learn to code for Apple (I’ve got an iPad and iPhone) or for Android (much more open)? What do I want to code? A game? An app? What is being too ambitious? What is not being ambitious enough?

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If anyone out there has experience about coding, I’d LOVE to have your advice of where to start.


2 First Days of School & a Learning Project: Follow the Journey @cameronscorner1

This has been a very unique start to the school year and it all began the day my school gained a teacher halfway through the month of September. What does this really mean? Well all of our kids re-shuffled grades – including myself. I went from teaching a group of 3/4 students to a new group of 4/5 students and experienced 2 “First Day of School’s” in one school year. I’ve taught grade 4/5 before so I wasn’t too thrown off by the sudden grade change, however I am feeling a tad bit behind in my teaching and where I would have hoped to be at the beginning of the October in terms of classroom routines, teaching content, and of course my learning project which involves my students & bringing Twitter into the classroom.  The positive side is this minor set-back in time has allowed me to explore Twitter behind the scenes apart from my classroom and begin to read – read – read!

Welcome to our classroom at the new Connaught Community School!
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The end of September was spent establishing routines (again) with my new group of kiddos , attending the internship seminar and getting to know my new students learning styles areading picnd personalities. Since this was a hectic 2 weeks in the classroom I spent my learning project time focused on setting up our classroom Twitter account, researching the “Do’s and Don’t’s” of using Twitter in the classroom, collecting parent permission for social media use,  exploring how to use Twitter in general, informing parents of my intentions of using Twitter in the classroom.  along with brushing up on issues of student privacy.

I have a rarely used personal Twitter account from my bachelor degree days – so the basics were a much needed review but were fairly straight forward. What bring me anxiety was reading the hundreds of ways to use Twitter. Ah! Where do I even begin??

So to wrap my head around it – I browsed the many possibilities Twitter has to offer and decided to focus on my own classroom Twitter and get my feet wet by sharing our learning. Currently to get started, I’ve Tweeted out the first few updates and will slowly transition to a point where students will take over the responsibility of sharing and creating tweets.

I have also explored Alec’s recommended documents with suggestions of educators to follow, education related hashtags and the tips and tricks demonstrated within class.
Learning the Basics!
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Photo via edudemic

Inform & Connect with Families
I came across an educator online from Windsor, ON by the name of Kristen Wideen. Mrs. Wideen’s blog provided a very helpful starting point for me and it’s definitely worth a visit!  I also adapted her Parent Letter, as seen below, as my own starting point for a letter. I pulled key points and adapted her letter to fit my own situation. I took her advice regarding following only other educators – not necessarily following parents back as I hadn’t considered the repercussions of others personal twitter content popping into our classroom news feed.

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I really enjoyed reading about other teachers mistakes using Twitter and what they learned in hopes to avoid any trouble and start rolling with my project smoothly. For example, Kristen identified the following rather helpful “mistakes” which you can explore in further detail here.

#1 Classroom Twitter Mistake
The Teacher creates and publishes the tweets.

*Rule # 1 and already an Oops in my project 

#2 Classroom Twitter Mistake
Jumping right in without laying the ground work first.

#3 Classroom Twitter Mistake
Leaving the parents out of the loop

#4 Classroom Twitter Mistake
Keeping the Class Twitter Account Locked Down

These common mistakes were a great starting point to lock down areas of focus during the first two weeks. My priority has been connecting to families, following educational accounts, and sharing our learning. Basically – jumping into it and building upon my learning each week. From here I would like to continue to explore issues of students privacy and check out how other classrooms are using Twitter within the classroom.

Now time for my shameless plug – follow our classroom on Twitter @cameronscorner1 🙂

Wish me luck!
Ms. Cameron