Author Archives: Jennifer Huber

My Last Summary of Learning!

It is hard to believe that this is the last blog post for my last class. Having the opportunity to end my Graduate Degree taking a Directed Reading course could not have gone better. I am very thankful that Jayme-Lee, Andres, Elizabeth, Kyle, and Jorie chose to take this course too. I had discussed this option with Alec in December, so I am thankful that it all turned out in the end. I learned so much more,  through our small group, than I could have hoped to learn if I had done this course alone!

Photo Credit: http://tvorbaweb-stranok.sk Flickr via Compfight cc

Initially, when this Directed Reading course began, I felt out of touch with my own teaching practices in my classroom. For 8 months of this past school year, I had a responsibility to write a blog post for EC&I 833 and EC&I 834 based on the particular topic that week. On top of that, there were other projects and assignments to complete. After awhile, having extra time and/or energy to spend on planning, became few and far between.

I was looking forward to focusing on my own teaching practices and how I approach technology in my classroom. I had the usual questions that I believe many educators have. Are the technology tools contributing to authentic learning? What tools should I be using for assessment? Am I providing a more student-centred approach? Are my students engaged? Am I providing balanced literacy? How can I provide enough time for students to blog with a limited number of Chromebooks? The list goes on and on and on!!

So Many Questions??

I chose to focus on including technology in a team teaching classroom because I struggle with having 17 Chromebooks for 47 students. How do I make the most of having Chromebooks, when I only have them for a limited time each day, or not at all?

What I learned is that I am on the right track! When I found articles about team teaching and teaching with larger groups, I also found information about blended learning and grouping students in smaller groups.

In this particular blog I found an article with great tips for team teaching and the importance and effectiveness of collaborating. From that point, I realized that working with large groups of students is challenging, and splitting students into groups is what most, if not all educators do, especially with limited technology/learning needs. Having more time to reflect, helped me to realize there is no magical solution to my frustrations. I just need to continue what I am doing, by making my decisions based on current research/information as my ideologies and pedagogical practices continue to change.

In week 2, I blogged about the negative aspects of technology. I’ve noticed that during daily conversation with different people like my EA (educational assistant), co-workers, friends, or family, I often notice that people who do not understand what educational technology has to offer, are the ones who are the most negative about it. It is understandable for sure. When people are misinformed, uneducated, or basing facts on ‘what we hear’ to be true, the comments tend to be “negative.”

One article that I shared shed some light from a different, yet relatable perspective. As you can see just by the titles, the article is worth the read.

Complexity Photo Credit: B Barr Flickr via Compfight cc
  • Why Some Teachers Are Against Technology In Education

  • The Problem With The #edtech Conversation

  • Technology Is Designed To Stir Emotions. So Here We Are, Stirred

  • Honoring The Complexity Of Teaching & Learning

Where some see a revelation, others see expense, distraction, and a lot of rhetoric.

I think it’s safe to say that based on our weekly conversations and each of our blogs, emotions were stirred, the #edtech conversation is deep and intense, and the complexity of teaching and learning is certainly challenging.

In week 3, we focused on preventative measures of cons. As I’ve already mentioned, I found some articles on collaborating and team teaching that confirmed what I have already been doing, as well as reminded me that I am the type of person who benefits from collaborating and having conversations about best teaching practices. It keeps me accountable!

In week 4, we looked into interesting finds. One topic of discussion was the limitations on the number of iPads and laptops allotted for each school in the RPS (Regina Public School Board).  My big take away(s) from this week was to focus on what we do have, since it doesn’t look like new laptops or iPads will be coming our way any time soon. I have plenty to learn about GSuite and the capabilities of Chromebooks, as well as transitioning to a more Blended Classroom. Next year, I will continue to try something new, including figuring out what else Chromebooks and GSuite have to offer!

Week 5 was all about the benefits of educational technology. There are more than enough articles that support the inclusion and importance of educational technology. Our students have grown up with smart devices and have had access to the web their whole lives. It is not a surprise that technology is something they gravitate towards.

I shared an article or two that help to remind myself and its many readers why educators continue to make the transition to a more blended classroom to meet the new learning styles of today’s students.

  • As much as 60 percent of schools in America, issue laptops or tablets to their students.
  • 41% of students are in favor of taking virtual classes.
  • 50% of students in middle and high school use the internet to complete work 3 times a week.
  • The students that study on computers, phones, or tablets, study for an average of 40 minutes more per week than those who do not.

The Future is Tech, Get Ready

This quote from the article; 5 Benefits of Technology in the Classroom says it all. Yes, we better get ready! It should actually read, “We better get moving!”  Eventually, educators will get on board, for the simple fact that we don’t have much choice! As technology transitions into Web 3.0, we as educators need to also be transitioning into Education 3.0. My blog from last spring provides a summary of how these are so connected.

In conclusion, not only did I learn an enormous amount of valuable information, I was also reminded about many of the new advances that educational technology has made. The enormity and complexity of the #edtech world is beyond my wildest imagination.

On top of that, connecting with Jayme-Lee, Andres, Elizabeth, Kyle, and Jorie provided me with so much awareness for the variety and complexity of our jobs as educators. I now have a much more personal appreciation for teaching Physical Education, French Immersion, high school Social Studies, tackling a paperless classroom using BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), and being a Grade 2 teacher transitioning into an administration role. As a group, we were able to provide support, make connections, and learn from each of our roles as teachers in Regina Public Schools.

Thank you again for this amazing opportunity! I am very thankful for the chance to take this Directed Reading Course for my final class! Thank you Alec for providing me with this amazing platform where I’ve grown as a person, professional, co-worker, and technology guru for 5 of my 10 courses throughout my Graduate Studies!

Dream Big

 


The Countless Advantages of Technology

When I think about the pros of technology, I think a lot about how much more engagement I see in my students when using technology tools and the positive feedback from them. I witness a lot more focus, interest, willingness and motivation to get started right away, remain on task, and complete the task at hand. There will always be students who are distracted by YouTube or their devices, but I always feel their excitement during educational technology tasks compared to teacher led, or independent student learning. This is what motivates me to keep planning lessons that include technology.

Student Engagement

There are so many articles available that support educational technology, so it is my job to take the information and learn first hand whether or not it might be beneficial to the group of students I have in my classroom. According to the article, “7 Benefits of Educational Technology in the Education Sphere,”

The future of the educational system is practically determined by the development of technology.

The teaching strategies based on educational technology can be described as ethical practices that facilitate the students’ learning and boost their capacity, productivity, and performance. Technology integration in education inspires positive changes in teaching methods on an international level.

#4. Thanks to technology, students enjoy learning!

Students are addicted to Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Digg, and other websites from a very early age. The internet can distract them from the learning process, but you can also use their inclination to spend time online for a good purpose: Making learning enjoyable.

5 Benefits of Tech in Ed

My students are connected to technology in their daily lives in some way or another. It is definitely a learning curve to have to introduce them to the inclusion of technology as a learning tool if they are not used to using it in school, but as I explained earlier, I see a lot of enthusiasm, engagement and eagerness to use technology and share what they have learned using Google Slides, Google Classroom, blog posts on Blogger, sharing work on Class Dojo, or creating an iMovie or WeVideo.

The students I interact with each day have grown up with smart devices, having been entertained instantly with videos, movies, games, sounds, visuals, etc. It isn’t a surprise to me that they are connected and drawn to Chromebooks,  and iPads when we use them in class.

Technology is certainly here to stay and as the poster says, “The Future is Tech, Get Ready!”

So, it is my job to keep an open mind to new ideas and opportunities, to try something new with my students and to deepen their understanding and motivation for learning the best way I know how.

Reading this article and watching this video from the article; “10 Advantages and Disadvantages of Technology in Education,” shares a couple of different perspectives (as well as common ones).

1. Parent’s Peace of Mind
Cell phones allow easy access for parents and children to communicate with each other at school too.

2. The Information Highway
Any answer to any question can be found with a few clicks of the keys on the computer or smart phone.

3. Broaden The Mind
Having access to the technology will expose children to things outside of their parents interests and help them to form their own opinions.

4. Brings Some Fun Into The Classroom
“Learning the same exact way from the same person every day can really get…boring,” which results in a real lack of motivation. “When they are able to integrate computer learning into their normal schedule, they become much more excited to learn.”

5. Applicable Education
In the working world, in nearly every job you may take, you have to know how to operate a computer. Teaching this skill in children early will give them advantages and a learning curve for when they are adults.

Each one of these 5 perspectives make sense and are common points of view. As a teacher, having to compete with technology devices is no easy task, so jumping on board is the logical solution, even though it is often challenging and full of obstacles.

The following video really showcases an interesting perspective from children about what “Technology is, how people learned before the internet, technology these students use in their daily learning, and what technology will look like in the future. Very entertaining video for sure!

It is hard to believe that these students are guessing and unsure about how we learned before the internet. “I think they had to go to the library, ” They read books,” etc. Interesting responses for sure!

There are so many amazing ways that technology can improve students learning, and yet at the same time it can be challenging. I have found that my students have more success when we try a new technology tool, it is best to start small (a daily lesson or a shorter project that takes 2 or 3 lessons). Once my students are familiar with that tool, we can move on to a more in depth project. One step at a time!

Next year, I will continue to build a blended learning environment.  It will take some time, especially if I follow a model like the one I shared in last weeks blog post”3 Essentials for Success in a Blended Learning Classroom,” but I already have a great foundation and I see the benefits for/in my students every day. This is the way it has to be for our students who are growing up in a digital world.

In closing, I want to share Jessie Woolley-Wilson’s Ted Talk about the divide in education based on a student’s zip code and the decline in funding for education. This reality has narrowed her determination to provide quality education no matter what zip code a child has. Jessie shares a story about a California teacher who shifted to blended learning using an Adaptive Technology that “learns the learner as the learner learns!” Based on the individual student, the software determines what lesson the student needs to support their learning based on previous answers given. Sounds great to me!

What technology tools do you really like? What technology tools work best for you and your students? Is there a technology tools or software that you continuously use?


What Catches Your Attention?

The past few weeks has certainly put a downer on my feelings and enthusiasm towards educational technology. As Elizabeth said, she feels like she’s been a bit of a “negative Nelly.” I feel the same way! It is disheartening to think about the challenges we are faced with everyday as we try to engage learning, make it authentic, and support creative thinkers.

Photo Credit: Flickr

I look forward to focusing on the great things about technology in the classroom next week. For now, I will share some of the interesting finds that I have come across along the way. One thing for sure is there are always interesting articles shared and answers to most (if not all) questions that educators may have available on the internet. I definitely find that networking through twitter and using feedly as a facilitator keeps information at my fingertips. If we as educators have questions or concerns, we can reach out to the many educators that we follow and the ones who follow us back. Thanks to feedly, (and using it regularly) my twitter followers have increased considerably.

  Photo Credit: jenhegna1 Flickr via Compfight cc

However, I do worry about not meeting weekly with fellow edtech enthusiasts to keep myself accountable. I hope that feedly and twitter will keep me in the loop. Any suggestions?

Like Andres shared in his blogpost,  I also found the conversation interesting concerning why schools are not allowed to invest in more educational technology. The discussion was disheartening to say the least. Not having the option to fundraise or buy new chromebooks, laptops or iPads is frustrating when we already have such a shortage.  I guess I can understand that the cost to maintain all the devices is a problem, but should it be at the expense of our students?

For most of the edtech my grade 4’s do, Chromebooks work well and serve their purpose. I do find they are user friendly, and I have very few problems with them (at least for now). Aside from the regular loss of wifi connection in one of our classrooms, students are able to navigate them without having to deal with too many glitches. Having the links so easily accessible to them in the toolbar saves time when they have multiple tabs open for Gmail, Google Classroom, Google search, and Blogger.

[url=https://flic.kr/p/8Kg9C6][img]https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4154/5084062389_93d986f86f.jpg[/img][/url][url=https://flic.kr/p/8Kg9C6][ - - - - - - - ] - Paz[/url] by [url=https://www.flickr.com/photos/bjmedios/]Alejandro Jöpia[/url], on Flickr

Photo Credit: Flickr

It is relatively easy to find support on line when it comes to what technology tools have to offer. I am looking forward to having time in the fall to look more into GAPS, and utilizing Chromebooks more. I know that I am unaware of many of the uses and opportunities that both of these have to offer. Elizabeth shared some great information about Alice Keeler and her Teacher Tech Blog. It will be a great resource to look at further.

I connected with the quote Elizabeth shared:

“My teacher could be replaced by a YouTube video.” by Alice Keeler

One thing I have understood about teaching is that it changes every year (technology or no technology). I try to stay relevant for myself and for my students. I definitely agree that teachers will not be obsolete any time soon, but the way we taught 20 years ago definitely needs to change.

Changing is never easy and takes time. Transitioning from a more traditional teaching practices to a more student centred approach is daunting and time consuming. In the article: Three Essentials for Success in a Blended (Literacy) Classroom the learning and teaching styles looks quite different. Many educators, including myself have to really understand the importance of how students learn and how their teaching pedagogy needs to advance.

When done correctly, any classroom can benefit from the blended approach, literacy classrooms especially. Literacy learning is unique in that there are both concrete and abstract concepts that work well in face-to-face teaching and in the digital space.

1. Maximizing Physical and Digital Space.

2. Fostering Collaboration and Communication

3. Accessible Texts and Materials

Just reading the 3 headings seems like it is relatively easy, but after reading the article it would take a lot of time and planning. I often like these articles, because of the way they are organized and laid out. It provides educators with a place to start, or continue from.

Each year, I make some progress in changing my style of teaching, advancements in provided a blended learning approach, as well as using the tools provided to me, like Chromebooks and Google Apps for Education. I would like to utilize these tools more, to further my own style of teaching practices and understanding of how they work. Recent and up to date articles that I find using feedly, or twitter are very helpful. I have found a useful article about Chromebooks through Free Technology for Teachers. It is called, “Great Tools for Making Videos on Chromebooks. Even though video production tools like iMovie are not available through Chromebooks, this article shares information and links on Twelve Tools for Creating Videos on Chromebooks. This provides more than enough for students to be creative and generate engaging videos to be proud of. The sight provides a summary for each tool, as well as direct links to each tool.

Overall, I find that I am interested in most things associated with teaching and I am curious to learn how it may or may not work for my students.

Does anybody else have concerns about staying up to date with technology after completing your master’s degree?

Do you utilize feedly and/or twitter regularly?

Please feel free to comment by clicking the title at the top!


Conquering the Pitfalls of Technology…..

Throughout my teaching career I have experienced many lessons that don’t go as planned, some are average and some are a huge hit. As educators, we tell the stories of a great lesson and often keep the disasters to ourselves (depending on the audience). I can usually laugh when disaster strikes, but more often than not, I’m wondering how to avoid that disaster from striking again.

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Preventing technology ‘pitfalls’ from occurring seems virtually impossible! For myself, a lot of the pitfalls and struggles I’ve had this past year are pretty consistent with the struggles of most other educators. Such as technical problems with wifi, not having enough computers for each student, lack of professional development, self-doubt, not knowing where to start or ‘How to do it?,’ trying to juggle a large group of students, and not having enough time to collaborate with staff members.

Teachers (like many other professions) have a lot to deal with in a day. It stands to reason that educators will not do everything well! We focus our attention on interest and areas of expertise! In some cases, if I am planned for the next day, I am doing well. Often, I’ve run out of gas by the end of the day and don’t have energy or time to check off items from my ‘To Do’ list like, read over blogs and regularly try to keep my students accountable.

The video; How to Use Technology in 21st Century Education provides some excellent guidelines for educators to follow when planning for their students. The beginning of the video rings very true for my school division. There was an initial investment in providing technology to schools, but the budget was depleted before providing adequate teacher training. Sure, we have educational technology experts for teachers to utilize, but it demands a lot of pre-planning on the part of the teachers. On the flip side, some teachers think nothing of it because they like to pre-plan a month or months ahead of time. What I am saying is that not all teachers are created equally, so the support provided doesn’t work for everyone. Fortunately, there are usually some teachers on staff to provide technology support and are there for you when needed. My hope is that we learn to reach out for support and ask for help or a staff member offers ideas or support for a lesson involving the use of technology.

I like how the video compares the way teachers believe they are using technology, but learn to understand that they might just be replacing old school practices rather than including it in ways that ensure student centred learning approaches. For example,

Teaching research skills rather than fact based learning that can lead to higher level learning, critical thinking and literacy skills. That it is important to understand the morals and ethics of using online content. Use of student collaboration and sharing of ideas. How to deal with criticisms, give criticism and deal with hostility on line. Many ideas for creativity in designing and sharing learning. Using software that is relevant and usable, rather than ‘Cheap Imitation Software,’ and the opportunity for students to create their own software.

Lastly, I wanted to share an article that seems very relevant for myself, as well as many educators I am sure. The 5 Problems Facing EdTech. I recommend that you take a moment to check it out (a short read).

  1. Schools are overcrowded.
  2. School spending is stagnant.
  3. A lack of teacher innovation.
  4. A lack of involvement from parents.
  5. Technology has become synonymous with entertainment.

The first section takes a look at overcrowded schools, which is something that I haven’t really experienced. But, I do teach a larger group in my classroom when Lisa and I separate our students for math and science. I teach 29-30 grade 4’s and she teaches 17 grade 5’s. The crazy thing is that the needs are much higher in the grade 5 group! I receive support from our Educational Assistant Ryan to support the needs (and larger size) in the grade 4 group.

The reason I am explaining this is because one of the suggestions for working with larger groups of students is basically what I have been trying out for the last couple of years (combining blended learning where face-to-face teaching is combined with online learning). Basically, I have had to divide the students into groups, just so I can include interactive activities and/or technology. Fortunately, this style of teaching has worked quite well.

As an example, consider a classroom of 30 students. Ten students with similar abilities may work closely with the teacher, another ten may work through lectures and online tasks using computer terminals, and the final ten may work together on a group project. In the next lesson, students are rotated so they can learn in different ways throughout the course.

Group work is one of my “Go To” strategies when I am faced with a larger group of students because of the way the number of students for each grade are split. It has really allowed me more time to spend helping smaller groups of students, I spend less time teaching, and it really takes the pressure off the students. This works especially well during math when there are a lot of questions and students require more explanation.

Teaching large groups of students has forced me to be more creative and careful when planning all lessons, but especially when I want to include technology. Like all educators there is some trial and error, a tweak here and there, and then repeat and try it again.

My 2 big take aways are the importance of collaborating with Lisa (and other staff members) and staying relevant and up to date with what is working well in other classrooms. There is so much support out there, through twitter, following great educator blogs, education websites, articles, apps, etc. Sometimes I just forget to take a step back, breath deeply, and think logically. Stress, anxiety, and feeling overwhelmed often side track me from these 3 simple things.

What do you do when you feel overwhelmed or have high levels of stress?

Does collaborating or meeting with co-teachers work well for you?

Please click on the title to leave a comment:)

The Trouble With Educational Technology

As I take a closer look at the disadvantages of Educational Technology, common concerns continuously are in the back of my mind. I often hear concerns from people about student learning and the amount of time children spend playing video games and/or watching TV, that children and young adolescents don’t communicate well anymore, they have poor communication skills, spend less time outdoors and are often a distraction from learning.

  Photo Credit: matt hutchinson Flickr via Compfight cc

Truthfully, I have many of the same concerns about student learning. I worry about everything mentioned above, as well as the common issues when it comes to loosing the wireless connections, not having computer carts available unless you plan weeks in advance, and/or not having enough devices for larger groups of students.

I found a great article; Why Some Teachers Are Against Technology in the Classroom that shifted my focus and allowed me to see what the cons of technology might look like through a different lens.

Recently I’ve noticed an increasing number of ed folks enthusiastically question education technology—and do so with enough sarcasm and bitterness and choice language to embarrass their mothers.

For the most part, it is noted that whenever something new is implemented, even when it is curriculum or test-based accountability, educators believe that it is ‘flawed.’ As a result, it builds an interesting dichotomy of both pursuing and resisting of new ideas.

Further complicating matters is the difficulty of effectively integrating technology in the classroom. This is hard for some educators (who do it well) to appreciate. You have to understand content, teaching, and technology on nearly equal terms, and when you don’t it all has an awkward way of illuminating the holes in a teacher’s expertise. That doesn’t mean that teachers that question edtech do so simply because they’re not good at it, but rarely do you hear people complain about things they do well.

In truth, however, this is much more than merely bellyaching. There are a lot of very bright educators–who see the same apps and go to the same trainings and read the same blogs and books that you do– that have a real problem with technology in schools.

I really connected to this article because it makes complete sense and it is what I experience with co-workers or have felt myself over the years. For the most part, it is obvious that having to teach about and/or include something unfamiliar is going to be difficult. It stands to reason that educators will express resistance in an already overwhelming and busy work day.

  Photo Credit

“Rarely do you hear people complain about things they do well.”

Now, when I hear somebody complain or I complain myself, I will be forever reminded of this quote!

I see how teachers struggle with utilizing technology in our classrooms and I also notice that we rarely talk about it as a staff. The focus is much more based on improving reading scores when we meet as a staff, rather than, what are educators doing in their classroom to include technology and at the same time, improve reading scores. As a result, this is where my thoughts go because ever since my first EC&I technology course started in 2014, I have worked hard to enhance student learning through technology. Wouldn’t it be easier, more comforting, and less isolating to understand where our fellow educators stand with technology?

Fortunately, I have a deeper understanding of struggling with including technology in my daily teaching. It is something I continue to work on and search for more answers. I’ve come to realize that collaborating more with my team-teaching partner Lisa, can only be more beneficial for the two of us, as well as, our students. This past year, we have not been collaborating in the area of technology simply because I took on the role at the beginning of the year when Lisa was still on maternity leave. The two of us work well together and I know she will be more than willing and interested in working together as technology collaborators, rather than feeling alone and wondering what to do next or how will we do it?

For next week’s blog post, we will be looking at the pros of including technology. The questions will shift from,

“Should we teach with technology?” to “How do people learn best, and how should we design learning experiences in light of prevailing local technology?”

Hopefully, as a result, “fewer of us will have the opportunity to be upset.”


Including Technology in an Elementary Team Teaching Classroom When There is Little to Spare?

This semester is my final class for my graduate degree, so I am very excited to be finished soon. My focus for this class, is to explore the current uses of educational technology in a grade 4/5 team teaching classroom with limited access to technology devices.


Photo Credit: Ken Whytock Flickr via Compfight cc

I have slowly been changing my teaching pedagogy over the last few years and feel like I’ve made some really positive changes. What I am looking forward to is having some time this semester to focus on learning more about best practices when trying to incorporate technology with a limited number of devices and/or availability with a large group of students.

33105837555_304fb5a942_dAnother part of the puzzle is figuring out how to do this effectively when considering collaborating with another teacher, time management of 46-50 students and assessment. This year I had my students switch from Kidblog to Blogger. Now, I am struggling with how to monitor their blogs, keep them accountable, teaching them blogging tips and ensuring digital citizenship.

Photo Credit: katerha Flickr via Compfight cc

It’s a process and a lot to figure out! On top of everything, there are everyday ups and downs that come up in daily life. Put all of this together and it has been an overwhelming past few years to say the least. My hope is that I have more time to focus on best practices in teaching throughout the years to come without having to juggle classes on top of everything else. The question is; Will it be any easier or less challenging? I sure hope so, but I am not holding my breath. One thing for certain is that I will not be completing a grad class as well as teaching full time next year.

The great thing about this final course is that I can focus on challenges that I face in my classroom and look at ways to adjust and enhance my practices and opportunities for student learning.

For starters, I found a blog post titled: Creating a Culture of Collaboration Through Technology Integration. One quote that got me thinking is;

In an ideal world, this integration would happen seamlessly, but the fact is that due to the rapid pace of change with technology, teachers’ varying comfort levels with technology, frequent turnover in international schools, and classroom teachers’ already extensive list of responsibilities, the majority of teachers could benefit from the support of a technology facilitator or coach.

Teachers having varying comfort levels with technology and classroom teachers’ already extensive list of responsibilities is where I connect to the most. This was me in the fall of 2014 taking my first EC&I course. I knew I needed to include more technology in my classroom, but the question was; Where do I start? It seems that as much as I knew it was important, I still wasn’t setting aside time to really look into how I could implement technology and who could help? It just seems that there are so many things on my TO DO list that take precedence before I add anything else onto my plate. To tell you the truth, I always feel like I’m a few steps behind and I have colleagues who often feel the same. A few of my questions are; How do I keep up with technology integration? What will this look like once the government figures out exactly where all the budget cuts go? How will this effect my students and teaching practices in a team teaching classroom?

Clearly, I have many questions that I hope to answer this semester or at least feel more comfortable with. As I research more articles and blogs, I continue to see obstacles in my way as an educator.

According to this video/article, technology is standard. The article and video begin by stating that once we (the teacher) are trained on one new product another pops up. I personally do not get trained to use technology, but have to figure it out on my own, collaborate with another colleague (which I find challenging to find time for) and/or sign up for a PD session after work.

33079347763_b133524948_dOn the flip side, I know that at least one or two blog posts will focus on the benefits and the progress myself, colleagues, and students have made as educators and students. It always comes down to finding balance and taking it one step at a time!

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Summary of Learning

Completing a summary of learning is never a simple task. I suppose that is why it’s called a s-u-m-m-a-r-y. Having to summarize a semester of learning is never easy.

One comment that stands out in my mind is Andres saying, “Make sure you start planning WEEKS ahead!” Does it count if I have been thinking about it for weeks?

I have used VideoScribe and Adobe Sparke for previous Summary of Learning’s. I found that Adobe Sparke was more user friendly than VideoScribe.

This semester I enjoyed developing my skills with iMovie. My brother creates great iMovies through the app and I have always loved them. One of my previous blog posts, Finally Tried iMovie outlines my experience.

To create this video, I used the iMovie app on my iPad. If you haven’t used iMovie before, you are given options to create a trailer (basically it is exactly like an Movie Trailer) or a Movie. I created an iMovie trailer and then used the trailer in the Movie. I included photos, short video clips, word clouds and screen-casts using Screencast-O-Matic. I downloaded all videos to YouTube and added a sound affect or two. It was a lot of fun and I’m glad it is done!

Thank you to Alec and Katia for planning and creating an online space conducive to learning, communicating with our peers, and providing us with, what seems like every single educational tool available to consider when planning our Online/blended Course Prototype. I think the results of our prototypes speak to the amount of work you both put into this course.

Thank you to everyone in EC&I 834! I am always inspired and motivated to try just a little bit harder because of all of you!

I hope you enjoy my Summary of Learning video!


Course Prototype Renewed

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It was great to hear all of the positive feedback about our course prototype on Genius Hour. Many comments were supportive and enthusiastic adding that this is the type of project that will encourage life long learners. I agree and hope that other teachers choose to utilize this amazing opportunity to have student/teacher links right at your disposal.

Photo Credit: engribk4real Flickr via Compfight cc

One of the concerns about our project was the assignments and course information might be difficult for grade 3 students to understand. Throughout planning of this project, I thought that some of the modules may be geared towards a higher grade but I knew that for my grade 4’s, I would do one of two things.

  1. Use the modules that best fit my students.
  2. Use all of the modules but provide further instruction, a screen-cast, video, etc. where need be.

As a result, there was enough concern that prompted one of our group members to suggest that we change the grade level to 5-8 rather than 3-8, keeping in mind that for younger students some adaptations may be needed. Great idea!

As Danielle stated, our group chose blogging as the “thread” that ties our modules/project together. As a group we agreed that blogging would be a consistent way for the students to process, reflect, and explain their learning as they work their way through the project.

I was certainly on board for blogging because I have blogged with my students for 3 years now.  I consistently see growth, their confidence increase and engagement during blogging. In our discussions, we chose specifically not to provide a specific blogging domain (kidblog, wordpress, blogger, etc) because every teacher might not want to set up their blogs the same way. One thing we missed was including a “How to set up your blog?” section of our prototype just in case.

As a result, Danielle decided to add a short “How to” video for setting up a wordpress blog. Many teachers also enjoy Kidblog, TheEdublogs and I have recently been using Blogger. I switched to blogger this year and the students and I are enjoying it. Especially because of the fact it is free!

As a result, it was an important suggestion to introduce blogging to students who do not have any experience with it.

Lastly, we received feedback about our considerations for common concerns. Now, the prototype includes;

  • technology concerns
  • EAL students
  • cultural concerns
  • attendance concerns or students who are out of town
  • teacher/student communication  


Photo Credit: ONE/MILLION Flickr via Compfight cc

Overall, we had really positive feedback about the organization of the prototype and how user friendly it was. The modules were linked together well and flowed from one to the next. Everyone seemed to like the variety of videos and assessment tools that each group member chose for their modules.

 Thank you so much for the hard work of our Genius Hour group; Kyle , JorieAdam, Danielle, and  Lorraine. Some members of the group really stepped up and went over and above the call of duty!

For myself, I received great feedback on the introduction video for the module that I was tasked with. One comment was specific to the music I added to the video. In fact, I was thinking the same thing. One of my students had added the same music to his iMovie and it seemed to grab the students attention. So, I purposely kept that in mind because I know how easily a student’s focus can be lost, even while watching a stimulating and fun video!

Since completing the Genius Hour Introduction video, I also used iMovie for my Summary of Learning. I worked on smoother transitions and being more cognizant of not cutting out words here and there.

Now that the improvements have been made, it will be even better than before. I hope that it will be frequently utilized by students and teachers!

Check our protype here;

  • go to classroom.google.com
  • click on the + sign to join
  • type in the code ku6m8y

Thank you for reading! Please comment by clicking on the title at the top!


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!


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?

Please feel free to comment by clicking on the title!