Category Archives: online resources

A Real Media Smarts Resource!

I had planned on completing these reviews earlier in March, but as our teaching worlds were turned upside down recently, they are a little later than I would have liked, but no less, here’s another one!  Hopefully it will be of good use to my colleagues and classmates as they embark on their newest remote, online teaching journeys.

Media Smarts is the second resource I would like to review for my major project.  It is another website dedicated to educating children about digital literacy and media literacy, and it’s Canadian!  They have many different types of resources for teachers, for parents, and for kids.  They have an entire section dedicated to Digital & Media Literacy with many different Media Issues like body image, intellectual property, and violence listed.  The website also listed a variety of Digital Issues ranging from authenticating information to cyber security, and online ethics. It also includes general information about digital and media literacy as well as information about video games, movies, and music.

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There is a “For Parents” tab that offers many resources for parents to begin talking to their children about media and digital literacy.  There are resource links to blogs, games, tips, guides, videos, and workshops.  This is a great option for parents because I think it is very user friendly and easy to access, especially if you are not 100% comfortable with the topic.  All the links provide detailed explanations and videos on how to discuss certain topics or how to become familiar with different ideas online.  It definitely breaks things down, however I found some of the videos I browsed to be very simple, which can be good if you are brand new to the internet or teaching young kids, but any child older than ten would likely find the videos too simple and childish.

But the part of the website I really want to dig into is the Teacher Resources.  I found this page to be incredibly resourceful and informative when it comes to the different sources and information listed.  There is a Digital Literacy Framework for Canadian Schools which is actually broken down into K-3, 4-6, 7-8, and 9-12.  These then connect to specific lessons and outcomes for students to hit and connects it to a specific framework piece, like ethics and empathy, privacy and security, community engagement, digital health, consumer awareness, finding and verifying, and making and remixing (very similar to Ribble’s Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship if I do say so myself)!  And there are a ton of lessons to choose from to connect to the framework and age of students.  As I scanned some of the example lesson plans, they all seemed age appropriate and suitable for the students they suggested.screen2There is also a page connecting outcomes by province and territory to digital and media literacy which I haven’t seen before.  It goes so far as to break it down by province, and then by subject area and then to specific curriculums.  I was shocked when I decided to look further and found when I clicked on the English B30 tab (since that is the focus of my project) that it listed every outcome digital and media literacy could connect in.  Beyond that, it even gives lesson plans and suggestions for each outcome!  You will definitely need to check this out if you are looking for lesson plans on media and digital literacy in the future!  It’s an unreal library!!

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You can also find lessons and resources using the search engine, but I think finding them by outcome or subject to be much more useful.  However, the search is also useful because you may search by resource type like game or guide, topic like aboriginal people or cyberbullying for example or by media type like music or movie for example.  Again, I would recommend checking it out yourself as it’s something I will be using in the future.

I thought for the purpose of this post that I would talk about one of the lessons I found that would fit very well into my already established unit plan.  It’s called Fact Versus Opinion and the overview states:

“This is the fourth of five lessons designed to teach students to think critically about the way aboriginal peoples and visible minorities are portrayed in the press. “Fact Versus Opinion” begins with students discussing the difference between fact and opinion. Students then apply what they have learned to an opinion piece selected by the teacher, and then an opinion piece that they have selected.”

It gives a very clear outline of what is expected of students and gives all the necessary materials for the lesson.  It also includes outcomes for the lesson itself and what students should achieve by the end of the lesson.  The only thing I would mention about the lesson as it does seem a little young for grade 12 (it is recommended for grade 9-12) and would probably need to be adapted a little more for a higher-grade level.  However, you could easily use the provided editorial for a warm-up and gradually make the analysis for thegiphy (9) activity more difficult.  Overall, it is a process I would like to use in my classroom.

I was really impressed by Media Smarts resources and I would definitely recommend using their lesson plans especially because they connect so well to Ribble’s Nine Elements and our Saskatchewan curriculum!  Have you used any Media Smarts lessons?  How did it go?

Thanks for reading my review!

Until next time,

Shelby

The Planning is Coming Together!

Hi all!  This week, I put more work into my major project and it is slowly taking shape.  If you need a refresher on what I’ve been up to, check out this blog post.  Basically, I have been planning and using my grade 12s as guinea pigs this semester and the results are almost in!!  I’ve now started putting the pieces together in a formal document for my unit plan, outcome connections, and big questions.  It’s not quite finished, as there are a few attachments I am still working on, but for now, here is my unit outline!

My next steps will be to finish the handouts and videos, and ask a few of my amazing students if I can use their projects as samples!  I will also be creating a resource page for all the sources I have used throughout this project, as well as additional sources I found useful in my hunt for activities and strategies I used.

My original plan was to create a Google Classroom with all the documents, handouts, videos, etc.  but I’m not sure if this is still the route I want to choose. I really love using Google Classroom, but I’m wondering if others would appreciate a working document instead?  Thoughts??

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Thanks for checking in and stay tuned!

Shelby

Ribble, Green Eggs, and Common Sense!

With final exams ending and my basketball tournament schedule lately, I have definitely not gotten as far on my major project as I would like so far but I’ve made some progress since my last post! My plan is to create a digital citizenship unit plan for my grade twelve English students.  It fits nicely into the curriculum, hitting a couple of outcomes. and I have already done bits and pieces of online citizenship with them in the past but as I have mentioned, it’s definitely an area I know I could be more conscience and explicit with in my teaching. As Leigh stated in her update, I assume my students have the skills to be responsible online citizens and, in some cases, even as budding adults, they lack the necessary skills to be successful. NOPE

I originally thought this unit plan would be a stand alone one, where I only focus on teaching digital citizenship and attempt to work through each one of Ribble’s Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship.  Then as I began planning out a timeline and the lesson ideas, I realized this might be a little too much to take on timewise, integrity wise, as well as curriculum wise.  I’ve decided to pinpoint closer to the skills I know my students both lack and need more experience with which is Digital Etiquette, Fluency, and Rights and Responsibilities.  These ideas I can easily tie into articles, essays, and videos that will help teach my curriculum as well as teach my students about digital literacy.  I’m going to tie it directly into my global issues and social experience unit plan to hopefully teach my students that being globally active and responsible counts both online and in the real world.

These are some of the big issues we tackle in this unit:

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As grade twelves, you would expect them to know a thing or two about the online world, but after some discussions in my courses, even over this past week, it is evident they need to learn how to find credible sources for information and be able to evaluate real news from “fake news.”  Tomorrow, I actually plan of having my students critique a text (video or article) for its credibility as well as its argument and persuasive tactics.  I will let you know how it goes! You can check out the assignment here if you would like! I also got some inspiration from this article!

They also live in a bit of a dream world, not expecting what they do online to ever have consequences in the real world, but I think it is important to teach them that they need to giphy (11)be respectful to one another online, because they can be very guilty of spreading a picture or discussing classroom happenings in their ever-expanding group chats on many different platforms.  I’m still processing how to do this all, and it has involved quite a bit of research, looking at different articles and strategies for teaching in a digital world like this article here from Common Sense Education.  The part I am struggling with is that it needs to be authentic and not preachy, so I get the glazed over looks and they forget what I say the minute they walk out of the room.  Any ideas would be greatly appreciated!

Capture1The last idea I really want to address in my unit plan is giving credit where credit is due.  As exams ended a couple weeks ago, I was incredibly frustrated grading my grade twelve final essays because guess what?  They plagiarized.  Not all of them, but enough to cost me energy and time, as well as it leaving a sour taste in my mouth leading into second semester.  Some do it on purpose, but in my experience most were never explicitly taught what not to do and this is a problem!  And not just for the students going on into university.  The internet is a vast network and it is important that students learn the value in giving credit to other sources of information online.  Not everything there is free, and it is a skill going forward that could be vastly important in the digital age.  I happened upon this awesome powerpoint, from a colleague, that helpfully explains how not to plagiarize and how to cite properly (Green Eggs and Ham anyone?)!  I am going to start here and hopefully teach them the right and wrong ways to find and give credit to sources in a variety of templates (not just an essay).green eggs

Going forward, I have a lot of ideas swirling in my mind, and I think it is important to start thinking about how in the future I will start this topic and unit plan.  My process has so far been a lot of research and a lot of reading.  It’s time to get to the real work in the next week and put these ideas into physical lesson plans and continue critiquing some previously made lesson plans!

Until next time,

Shelby

The Future of Education

After our discussion this past week on the generational divide and where education is going, I began reflecting on what I really think is in store for educators of the future.  I always refer to one of my all-time favourite TED Talks spoken by Sir Ken Robinson, called ‘Do Schools Kill Creativity.’  The questions from this week’s prompt reminded me greatly of the things spoken about in this TED Talk.  Topics like how can schools change?  Where are we going from here?  Are we really preparing children for the future?  If you haven’t seen it, it’s 100% worth your time and will likely change some form of your teaching practice. 

I often show it to my grade 12 students and the discussion that ensues is always enlightening and engaging.  They love discussing the topic because they are the topic.  They don’t want to be stuck in a desk, learning for 8 hours a day, and then go out into the workforce, only to realize they actually never will have to write a research report on a dead soldier, or use calculus to optimize the amount of concrete they need for their driveway.  There are other, more practical ways of preparing them for the future and I believe it has already begun to change our way of thinking in terms of education.  One thing I have always found interesting about my students’ opinions, is they never place blame on the teacher.  Lots of them recognize that teachers can be just as stuck as the students are in the education model, and while a fair assessment, there are many ways teachers can break out of the mold, the only problem is money.  Cost and resources are a huge disadvantage for teaching in many ways of the future.

Another video I have shown my students that really gets the conversation about schools changing is Prince EA’s poetry video called ‘I Sued The School System.’  Once again, we dive into the ideas on how our society is constantly changing, yet our methods of evaluation and teaching of future generations remains the same.  So to answer the question, do schools need to change?  My answer is absolutely.  We are currently preparing a generation of the first “digital natives” to work in a world that is constantly changing, in a world where many manual jobs will be eventually replaced by machinery.  Jobs will continually become obsolete, and the skills our students need are far greater than we have seen in the past.  They need to be creative problem-solvers, who can work collaboratively with others, and think outside the box.  Most of the careers our students will have don’t even exist yet.

I checked out this article (9 Things That Will Shape The Future Of Education) to see what others think will be the future of education, and the results were what I expected.  Teachers think there will be more creativity and freedom in education, and we will no longer test knowledge that can be googled.  Instead students will be critiqued on their critical thinking and problem solving skills. One teacher, Nicholas Provenzano, said “Math will be taught as a way of learning how to solve problems and puzzles. In literature, students will be asked what a story means to them. Instead of taking tests, students will show learning through creative projects. The role of teachers Image result for tell me the answer memewill be to guide students in the areas where they need guidance as innovators.”  I love this idea, and I hope it holds true.  I try to get students to think in this manner already, but it is difficult because our students are used to having ONE right answer, and they just want to be told what to think instead of thinking for themselves.  I think this will be one of the biggest hurdles the education system will have to overcome – students being okay with being wrong, or not knowing the right answer, or there not being one.

Another teacher even mentioned the idea that schools and teaching could be a dying profession.  This is an interesting concept to me; I always thought teaching would be ‘safe.’  I might be wrong, but I know the way I teach now will change in the next ten years.  I think teachers will become more like directors, helping to oversee student progress and learning but not be the ‘keepers of knowledge’ we have been in the past.  I think the future of education needs to change regardless of whether it wants to change or not.  However, I also don’t think it is something that can be mandated, like the mandatory online courses in Ontario.  There is no one way for students to learn, and as Albert Einstein said, “if you judged a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it would live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”  The future of education will be more flexible for the student and the teacher, allowing students to showcase strengths and work on weaknesses in a supportive environment where it is encouraged to make mistakes.  This dream might sound idealistic, and like a lofty goal, but I think it is possible if we want to succeed as a country.  We just need the opportunity and the resources to try.

Until next time,

Shelby

The Final Prototype

This semester we were tasked with creating an online course prototype and I am pretty proud of what I accomplished.  When I began this course I didn’t necessarily think I taught in a “blended” classroom, but with my use of Google Classroom increasing every semester, I realized quickly that I actually do use forms of blended learning in my classrooms all the time, mostly for simple things like posting extra videos, notes, or assignments so students have the opportunity to access information when they are absent from class.  I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to take a course I am already teaching and make it even more blended.  This is why I decided to create a prototype for my AP Calculus course.  I also knew I wanted to use Google Classroom since my students are so familiar with it and our division encourages its use.  You can check out my course profile here for more details on how I laid it out for the semester.  I thought this course would be perfect because I see my students every day for a total of 60 classes before they write the big exam in May.  This gives me an opportunity to use the LMS of Google Classroom to enhance our time together and create more opportunities for learning online.  This will also help my students become more independent learners, which is incredibly important for their next years in university because they will all be headed in that direction.

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Screenshot of my course!

I began my course with the idea in mind of using a flipped model of instruction.  My students actually quite enjoy this model, but others do struggle to commit to the video lessons in their downtime.  It’s been a balancing act so far but I have used them as my guinea pigs for a couple of different assignments.  I wanted to use a flipped model because I knew it would open up more time for questions and for working through problems together in class which is really what my students need.  One of the suggestions on my peer review was to create a place for students to communicate with each other, so I introduced a question and answer Padlet in hopes that students would freely contribute to questions and supply answers to each other instead of relying only on me as their source of information.  If you want to see more about how my classmates’ reviews influenced my prototype, check out this blog post.

For the modules I created for this class, I wanted to focus more on simpler concepts (things my students would be able to learn from a video as well as hopefully not be too overwhelming for my peers in this course)!  I think I selected the right material and I have to say I learned a lot about myself as a teacher through this process as well.  Last year, I was made to focus solely on content.  Teach myself, teach the students, move on to giphy.gifthe next idea.  This year, I am much more relaxed and have been able to play around a lot more with my lessons and build new connections with the material as well as preparing my students even more for the exam.  I can look more into Khan Academy, create more formative assessments, and know better what my students need.  I knew I wanted to create short videos and have students follow along with notes where they could record the information.  This also allows them to go back, pause the instruction, and re-watch if they need to.  I think I gave ample practice and I even tried to implement some different formative assessments in Socrative and GoFormative.  If you feel like testing your math skills, try them out on my course!  The Google Classroom code is wnn06j and you need to log in using a Gmail account.  Feel free to check out the rest of my prototype as well including videos, assignments, and practice problems.  Also, feel free to check out my course walkthrough if you would rather a quick feel for my course prototype.

Overall, I’m really happy with how my prototype turned out.  For my second module, I focused on an entirely different unit and created an opportunity using Flipgrid for my students to actually show how they work through a problem.  I want them to explain their reasoning and their answer since that is such an important concept on the AP exam.  Another idea I had was to create a Padletstart where they could discuss ideas on how to solve a couple of problems we would look at in class anyways to act as a starting block on how to solve it.  Some of these problems can be really complicated so I want to create the easiest environment that I can to teach them in that it’s okay to be wrong and this is the best way we can learn.  One of the hardest things for my students to learn is that to get a “4 or 5” on the AP exam is to really achieve a pass.  Many of the practice problem average score is between 3 or 4 out of 9.  Teaching them the process and wording of these problems is crucial to their success on exam day and understanding that they only need to try every part of a question to succeed.  I included a section for practice exams as well as problems for them to work through on the prototype.  We also spend time in class working on these but the ability to access them outside of class time will be incredibly beneficial to my students.  The most important thing I am taking away from this assignment is that I am actually capable of creating a blended learning environment and it isn’t as intimidating as I thought it would be.  I would like to eventually blend all my courses in this manner because I think that is where education is heading.  Dean mentioned this quote on Twitter this week and I think it sums up exactly what we and this course are working towards:

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Past and Present Student Interaction

When I think of student-student interactions, I have flashbacks to my undergrad. Not necessarily a good flashback either.  I had a few courses with the “required discussion forum” where we needed to complete a reading or two or three, and then make comments or ask questions to our assigned groups.  We HAD to post at least three times a week, and it HAD to be connected to the reading and material we were learning in class.  Looking back, besides remembering that I HAD to do this type of assignment, I do not recall one single discussion topic we discussed.  giphy (5).gifIs it because it’s been a few years? Probably, but I bet if someone asked me two weeks after the course was over if I remembered any of the discussions, I bet I still wouldn’t be able to remember anything about them.  The Bates reading from this week made me realize, as well as aspects of this online course we are all taking, is that this form of discussion is completely inauthentic, and students do not care about things they don’t care about!  If you asked me what I wrote about on my EC&I 831 blog, I could tell you about most of the topics and I think that’s because I cared about the subject matter, it was connected to me, and I got to discover what I wanted to know more about!  The Bates article from this week’s reading stated that,

“Textbooks, readings and other resources are chosen to support the discussion, not the other way round. This is a key design principle, and explains why often instructors or tutors complain, in more ‘traditional’ online courses, that students don’t participate in discussions. Often this is because where online discussions are secondary to more didactic teaching, or are not deliberately designed and managed to lead to knowledge construction, students see the discussions as optional or extra work, because they have no direct impact on grades or assessment.”

I think the reason I don’t remember a single topic in those classes is because the discussion forum was always extra. It was additional work, instead of the discussion centering around ideas and questions, and FINDING the answers through readings and textbooks, we read first, and then added points about what we found.  I agree that it should be the other way around.  Fuel the discussion with ideas and supplement with resources!

This brings me to my point for the week.  My course is a blended course and I do see my students daily.  I’ll be honest; I didn’t think it was very important to include student-student interaction in my course, but after some feedback from my peers, and our class last week, my mind has been changed.  Harasim (2012) states that “[Online Collaborative Learning] theory provides a model of learning in which students are encouraged and supported to work together to create knowledge: to invent, to explore ways to innovate, and, by so doing, to seek the conceptual knowledge needed to solve problems rather than recite what they think is the right answer.”   The moment I read this statement, I thought “This is what my class is!”  I am teaching AP Calculus to a bunch of students who need to work together to solve problems and develop an understanding of the material so they can apply it to the exam, and NOT just recite the right answer! (Insert Happy Dance for making the class meaningful for my students!)giphy (6).gif

So I began thinking of ways I could encourage more student-student interaction online.  They collaborate daily on problems and assignments so it would be nice to extend it onto Google Classroom.  I think I will start with encouraging them to post their questions on the class stream and allow other students to reply with their ideas for answers.  To get this started, I might even post a couple of questions for them to work through online and to post their ideas on how to solve the problem, and not necessarily post the answer.

I also really like the idea of using Padlet for students to work through a problem together or even start a community where they can ask each other questions about the assignments and problems so that they do not have to ask me first.  The beauty of Padlet is that they can post descriptions, write something, take a picture or even insert a video or audio for an explanation or question.  What do you think?  Will it work?  I really think it would be a good example of the three phases: idea generating, idea organizing, and intellectual convergence that Alec discussed with us last week.  Hopefully I can get my students to go through all three phases with this idea!

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A screenshot of my new addition!

Another idea I might try since explanation and justification is a huge part of the AP exam is Flipgrid.  I might try getting students to answer a problem verbally and explain how they arrived at their answer, as well as justify how they know a certain answer is correct when-the-teacher-says-you-have-to-explain-your-answer-41186018as many questions give the answer, and the student needs to justify why it is correct.  I think this would be a great opportunity of students to discuss their reasoning and ideas of problem solving and for me to evaluate their reasoning skills for the exam!  This could also work as an assignment to show me how they walk through problems.  It might help me figure out their thinking and understanding more, as well as help them discover the important concepts in the problem at an individual level.

I know that student-student interaction is incredibly important, and I am hoping I can get my students to buy into the online discussion ideas.  If not this year, hopefully next year.  In the meantime, I will continue to try, and keep up with my ever-present student-teacher interactions via Remind 101, and the comment section on Google Classroom!  As the Bates article stated clearly, “with online collaborative learning, the aim is not to replace the teacher, but to use the technology primarily to increase and improve communication between teacher and learners, with a particular approach to the development of learning based on knowledge construction assisted and developed through social discourse.”  This is what I aim to do, and hopefully make more connections between my students, and help them become stronger advocates for themselves, and better learners.

The Many Techniques of Blended Learning

Hello fellow EC&I 834ers!  It’s been awhile!  Time to shake off the cobwebs on the keyboards and get back into the blogging spirit! This week, Alec’s prompt stumped me at first: “Take this week to read about/explore an aspect of online/blended learning that you are interested in, and then blog about it. This might include your thoughts/reactions to a particularly interesting article that you find, your own exploration of a mode/format/strategy for online/blended learning that we haven’t touched on, or your further research into a course topic that interests you.”  What do you mean I have to explore and think about something that I am interested in learning more about?  What do you mean there is no direction to this week’s blog post?  I had to stop and think.  I had to spend some time exploring the world wide web.  I had to figure out a direction and go with it!giphy (2).gif

Now, for those of you that have ever done the “team-building” personality test where your personality becomes a shape, I’m a square.  I don’t do well when there is no direction.  I like consistency, I like having a prompt, and I will complete the task, most likely in one shot because “chunking” and “working slowly on an assignment” has never been my cup of tea.  I procrastinate, and then I panic, and then I produce something pretty great that would have been a lot less stressful if I had started ahead of time, but it had to be the perfect idea before I began.  I digress.

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This personality of mine led to some colleagues of mine, namely Brad Raes and Logan Petlak, and we discussed some ideas for directions in this blog post.  From there, I hit the internet and decided I should watch at least one TED Talk because they are my favourite things to learn from so I found this one!  I liked it.

Monique Markoff discusses a lot about what we have already learned about blended learning and what it is versus what it is not.  She discusses the success rates of online courses versus blended environment courses, and her conclusion is that students learn more in a face-to-face environment and the technology should be used as a tool to the ideas, not the solution.  She also discusses some different versions of blended learning I had never heard of before, like the rotational model, and others I had, like the laboratory model, the open-classroom model, and the flipped classroom model.  A couple of these ideas were pretty familiar, notably the laboratory and the flipped classroom models.  What wasn’t familiar was the idea of a rotational model and all of a sudden, I had my idea for this week’s blog.  As soon as Markoff described it as “stations” I was interested and thought, “This is something I could use in my classrooms!”

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She asks four questions for those who are serious about beginning blended learning in their school:

  1. Are you flexible?
  2. Are you committed?
  3. What is your mindset and the mindset of your students?
  4. What is the role of the teacher?

I think these questions are an excellent starting point, because they make you think about what your purpose of using blended learning is and if you are truly looking to change your perspective and teaching theory in the classroom or just looking for a quick fix.  Markoff goes into detail explaining what these questions entail, and how difficult, time-consuming, and complicated it really is to integrate these ideas into a classroom.  It takes hard work, it takes trial and error and most of all, it takes time.  She mentions that many classrooms and schools tend to fear this idea, and do not want to fail with a model and so when it needs adjustments, it is simply thrown out and the old model comes back in.

It made me think that this blended learning idea might be more complicated that I originally thought.  It’s not something that is going to be perfect the first time around, and it is going to take a lot more research and development to work out just right.

After I finished the video, I continued with my question on what exactly the rotational model of blended learning is and was led to this article: Find The Model That Works For You: 12 Types Of Blended Learning.  My first thought was TWELVE!  THERE ARE TWELVE TYPES OF BLENDED LEARNING!!!  There were types I heard of and types I hadn’t.  To see the full capacity of each type, check out the article yourself, but for now these were the main types listed in the article:

  1. Station Rotationblended
  2. Lab Rotation
  3. Remote
  4. Flex
  5. Flipped Classroom
  6. Individual Rotation
  7. Project-Based
  8. Self-Directed
  9. Inside-Outside
  10. Outside-Inside
  11. Supplemental
  12. Mastery-Based

 

Now what I noticed as I read the article is that overall, every type had the same thing in common.  They are blended learning ideas and they involve technology as a way to support student learning.  It seemed intimidating but was far from it as I continued.

rotation-1The rotational models have my interest peaked mostly because I feel that this would be a fantastic goal for my AP Calculus students.  I would love to do sections of direct instruction, sections of a flipped model, group work and individual assessments online.  Students could work at their own pace, and work more on the concepts THEY struggle with because at that level, what my students need is practice and motivation.  I believe this model would provide some of that!  TeachThought defined “Station-Rotation blended learning is a: “…model (that) allows students to rotate through stations on a fixed schedule, where at least one of the stations is an online learning station.””  This is commonly used in elementary schools, but why couldn’t it be successful in a grade twelve classroom too!  I already do certain aspects of it, and students learn more from experiencing the skills themselves than from me explaining a complex theorem to them directly.  Once I read more about this idea, I knew it was familiar from the elementary idea of “stations” but this is more complex, using a variety of strategies and tools to teach concepts and ideas to students, on a fixed schedule, which I already have, but in their own way.

A second source from Reading Horizons defined the station rotation to be that “students move through modalities within a classroom.”  The following is how Reading Horizons defined it:

“Students learn using software or other online-based coursework on classroom computers. Students can do a variety of activities, including but not limited to previewing, completing, or reviewing skill lessons, reading stories, or taking computer-administered assessments. Through these kinds of tech-based activities, students have opportunities to work independently and privately, free from concerns about how they will perform in front of their peers.

For the offline part of their learning, students receive direct instruction from a teacher, followed up by a variety of activities, which could include modeled and independent reading, workbook pages or other pencil-and-paper tasks, one-on-one tutoring, small-group work, projects, games, flash cards—the list of possibilities is nearly endless.”

I see endless possibilities, not only in my math courses but also my English courses for this type of learning.  I never thought of using stations as a strategy in a high school classroom but I think it could work and very well!  Does anyone else have any experiences using this type of strategy in their classrooms?  Does it work with older students like it does with younger students? I am open to suggestions and will keep you updated on my progress with the implementation of my newfound blended learning technique!

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AP Calculus Course Debrief

Well, here goes nothing!  Last year was my very first year teaching AP Calculus.  There were a lot of ups and downs, and I mean a lot!  Trying to learn the content myself, teaching myself how to teach the content, helping students understand things that I was still trying to master myself, prepping them for an exam I had never seen, and nervously awaiting the test results in July.  It was a roller coaster!

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I know a lot more now, but do I have more to learn? ABSOLUTELY!  It was near the end of the course last year that I discovered the beauty of Khan Academy and I knew my life this year would be easier, which leads into my course outline for this project!  The timing couldn’t be more perfect and I am excited to really try out my ideas with different types of blended learning, using flipped lessons which my calculus students already showed an interest in last semester!  I’m looking forward to documenting everything that works and doesn’t work and really giving this course another shot, being a little more confident, and a lot more knowledgeable than last year!  I know lots of you are not going to understand one lick of this, but I’m hoping you can bear with me and my journey through my project.

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To see my course outline, check it out here and wish me luck! 🙂

My Summary of Learning

This is it!  The end of EC&I 830!  I cannot believe how fast this course flew by, and I also cannot believe how much I learned over two short months.  It’s amazing the community we developed and how much we were able to challenge each other to grow and learn in such a short time span.  It’s been a pleasure to learn with all of you.

I loved the style of this course and how it enabled us to be in charge of our own learning.  We brought a lot of debate to the table, and I thank all of you for challenging my thinking and opinions.  There is no one right answer to any of the topics we discussed and I think that makes this course so great!

Without further ado, here is my summary of learning video!  Thanks again all for a fantastic class and I hope you all enjoy my video (I had a lot of fun making it)!

Technology Is Equitable; People Are Not.

This week’s debate had me all over the place.  Thinking of the phrase: “technology is a force of equity in society” has many sides and angles to consider and there is not one straight answer: yes or no.  I found there was a lot of mixed reviews throughout our 1.gifdebate, and many elaborations for our reasons we think it is or isn’t.  For example, yes, technology can be a force of equity because it is creating opportunities where they were limited before or no, it is not a force of equity because there is not equal access around the globe.  These types of ideas were incredibly important to our debate this week, and I think through a lot of thinking post-debate, I have established that we may not be there yet, but we are working towards solutions for this inequity.

The agree side this week did a fantastic job opening the floor and I found myself agreeing with all the points that Jen, Dawn and Sapna shared.  Their major points included the removal of barriers in education and skills, the use of open education resources creating equality through education, and then focused on the idea that the corporate system is the reason that technology is inaccessible for people in a lower socio-economic status and not the tech itself, and not the tech’s fault itself, showing that the tech isn’t creating inequity, but people by making these devices which have now become a necessity, cost too much money to afford.people using smart phones sitting at a table

The disagree side of Amy S, and Rakan countered well including some important ideas I would have never thought about in my internal debate.  Their main ideas circled around tech creating bias, gender abuse, and racism online, as well as digital colonialism and economic inequality.

As a said before, I found myself agreeing with all the points the agree team shared.  I see technology remove barriers all the time in the classroom.  I actually once saw a two men sitting at Tim Horton’s using their cellphones and a translating app to communicate with their voices and have a real conversation.  It made me so happy that technology has been able to reach a point where we can communicate with one another and create friendships with people that do not necessarily share a common language.2.gif

As for the classroom, I know I would have been in a real bind if I did not have my technological resources for teaching.  I have taught A LOT of different subject matter and without open resources and the World Wide Web, my knowledge would have been much more limited as well as the material for my students would have been much simpler as I would be scrambling for activities and ideas on my own.  For example, my first year I original-846541-1taught Law 30.  Where did I turn but to the internet to find different ideas and resources to help supplement the material.  I even found an activity to look at the laws often broken in different fairy tales and create a trial for the characters.  Would I have been able to come up with this idea without technology?  No way!  It helped make my life less stressful and created equity in a situation where I was at a disadvantage.

There are also many assistive technologies out there to help students including Google Write&Read.  Many students struggle with getting their ideas on paper and these types of apps help create an equity in the classroom so they too, can reach the outcomes of other students.  However, access to these apps can be difficult if you do not have access to the technology which is what the disagree side countered.

3.gifCost is a major downside to education as well as creating equity in the classroom.  And like Amy R. said in her blog this week, Technology should be accessible to everyone because it has become essential to live.  It has become a basic human right to be able to access this information and these devices yet corporations will not lower the price on devices, making it difficult for people of a lower socio-economic status to get access.  People may argue that there is free access in libraries, and schools, but not everyone has direct access to a building like that.  Sunny Freeman’s article states that even in Canada, only 62% of low-income quartile has access to the internet and it is difficult to dispute.  Have you ever gone camping in a rural/northern part of Saskatchewan?  Little to no internet access or even service exists! 4 So like, the agree group said, we can fix this!  We just need to lower the costs on devices, and create more opportunities for access in order to lessen the digital divide felt everywhere in the world, not just Canada.

Daniel also made a great point in his blog this week: “Some affluent people thus think by simply dumping the highest tech in the poorest places in society, inequality will be solved.”  This will not solve our problem when there is no education to help those educators or students use the technology and unlock its potential for the classroom and for their future.  If we are going to increase technology use in the classroom, we need to also increase the professional development and resources for teachers to USE the technology as well.

UNRWA_Gaza5(2).jpgI think it is super important that if we are going to increase technology and use programs like One Laptop Per Child, they need to be used appropriately in order to avoid digital colonialism which is what Amy and Rakan hinted at in their opening video.  It’s a very thin line between introducing and advancing a third world country and pushing Western beliefs on an already established society.  For example, in this article, Facebook is offering free internet to places with low economic status but with a catch.

The following statement is from ‘It’s digital colonialism’: how Facebook’s free internet service has failed its users, and can definitely be considered a negative for what should be a positive movement towards digital inclusion:

“Free Basics is a Facebook-developed mobile app that gives users access to a small selection of data-light websites and services. The websites are stripped of photos and videos and can be browsed without paying for mobile data.

Facebook sees this as an “on-ramp” to using the open internet: by introducing people to a taster of the internet, they will see the value in paying for data, which in turn brings more people online and can help improve their lives.”

The catch is that they cannot access all the internet, only a few select sites and they need to pay more for more access.  This in my opinion does not create equity, but increases the divide showing “you can afford this” or “you can’t afford this.”  This idea is also restricting language, with the majority options being only in English, and if that’s not a Westernized view/Digital Colonialism, then I don’t know what is!

Dhanaraj “Thakur believes a better solution would be to give low-income groups a limited amount of free data to access the open web” and I agree.  Why not?  What is the harm?  Unless the corporations in charge have a hidden agenda behind enabling these communities with a more Western view.

Another solution to the idea of making education more accessible is Open Education Resources (OERs), Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), and Virtual Classrooms.  Having these types of resources online have created a lot of opportunity for remote classrooms and cities.  They may not have the resources physically, but they can access the information online ending the digital divide.

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Via Flickr

The article, Analysis: How OER Is Boosting School Performance and Equity From the Suburbs to the Arctic shows how students and classrooms in Kotzebue, Alaska are able to still access high-quality materials within budget cuts and limited resources. Layla Bonnot says, “With OER, districts can adapt content to meet their local needs, maximize education budgets, and ensure access to resources and educational rigor. By being able to serve all students — whatever their race, gender, ethnicity, language, disability, family background, or family income — OER supports the goal of educational equity.”

Of course, there are still other down-sides that are creating unequitable circumstances like the ideas of gender and racial bias online, and that AI could possibly be racist and learning its racist behaviours from humans, but I hope that we are moving in a positive direction away from these ideas.  Lizzie O’Shea stated in her article that technology’s biases are not bad necessarily, as long as we recognize them as such and move towards making these racial and gender roles more neutral.

0447f-thinkstockphotos-179079064O’Shea said,  “To make the most of this moment, we need to imagine a future without the oppressions of the past.  We need to allow women to reach their potential in workplaces where they feel safe and respected.  But we also need to look into the black mirror of technology and find the cracks of light shining through.”

And after listening to both sides of the debate, I couldn’t agree more.  We are imperfect, so our tech is imperfect too.  As long as we recognize our faults, and are trying to work towards solutions, then I think we are accomplishing something.  Is technology creating equity in society?  In some cases yes, and in some cases no.  Technology is not going anywhere, and it is becoming a more crucial part of life and should be demanded by all of society.  It has huge potential to create equity in all walks of life, but it is how we go about making sure it is accessible, fair, and neutral to everyone that is the most important part.

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