Category Archives: Major Digital Project 832

OneNote, Canva & Minecraft EDU

Before I begin, I really have to thank my grade sixes for their incredible participation and enthusiasm when embarking on this journey of exploring OneNote, Canva and Minecraft EDU all within a matter of a few months. This group of students of mine are so excited when I introduce new digital projects and assessments that it makes it so easy to try new programs with them. Their ability to navigate new programs within a few classes is truly astonishing. I know that both myself and the teachers before me have provided them with adequate media literacy and digital citizenship education to make this possible.

OneNote

This semester I had my students work with OneNote for the first time. We worked on a digital novel study/read out loud instead of working traditionally with pencil and paper. We only have two more chapters left and then we will be finished with the book! The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau has been an engaging and thought-provoking dystopian novel to read with my students. We plan on watching the feature-length film next Thursday before the Easter break. Students completed weekly reflections about the novel and even engaged in using the collaboration space for online group work. Some of the challenges that we faced were accidentally deleting text boxes, images, and even whole pages. We learnt quickly how to lock items so that the students wouldn’t lose their work. Often time because our wifi can sometimes be poor from day to day, students would have to wait a very long time for all of their pages to load when I would distribute them out to the class. I found that I needed to distribute the pages at least an hour before we needed to access them as a class. I will continue to use OneNote with my students and in future years. I want to explore using it in multiple subjects and having them share more with their peers. To wrap up our read-out-loud, students will be creating a digital comic strip using StoryboardThat and then sharing it with our collaboration space within OneNote.

Canva

Canva has been a great tool for students to be able to showcase their creativity while still having that digital component be a part of the process. The eductor version of Canva allows teachers to review, comment and submit student work right within the website. I don’t have to sift through emails or search for documents because it is all in one convenient location. Students have created posters, infographics, and even videos that have been so fantastically done. They created posters about the 7 sacred teachings and infographics about infectious diseases. Once they grasped how the program worked, they were figuring it out quite quickly. Students have learnt what it means to download something as a PDF, PNG, JPEG or MP4. All of which can be very confusing when they don’t know why there are different file types. Most recently, I have a handful of students that are using Canva to create an informational video for their Saskatchewan Virtual Heritage Fair project. I am so proud of these students for choosing a project platform that was new and for taking the risk!

Minecraft EDU

Lastly, Minecraft EDU has been a top hit in the classroom as of late. When students hear that they get to complete an assignment or create a project using Minecraft EDU there is always a celebration. Students have also learnt valuable skills such as screen capturing and screen recording. We have been able to meet speaking outcomes without the intense pressure of a class presentation. Students have created an outdoor campsite for fire safety, a narrative comic strip, and explored a sustainable city. The most recent activity that the students were working on in Minecraft EDU is building their own Catholic church. Being that it is the season of lent, I wanted the students to focus on the actual building of the Catholic church since many of them have not been spending much time in the physical building due to the pandemic. We watched a few explainer videos about the differences between a chapel, church and cathedral, and what gothic and historic architecture has looked like over the past couple of thousands of years. The student’s church has some specific requirements, however, they also could add anything extra that they felt would go above and beyond the expectations.

Creating Beautiful Things with Canva

To complete my personal journey through media, my third digital platform that I wanted to investigate more thoroughly is Canva.com. I have personally been using Canva for about a year now. I have created both personal and professional projects for myself and have found it very user-friendly, full of great templates and inspires my creativity. I have created items such as wedding and shower invitations, seating arrangements, visual graphics for previous classes, classroom decor and posters, personal business advertisements, and a summary of learning video from ECI 831.

Personal Creations

Canva For Educators

Having much success on my own, I wanted to dive into the educational side of Canva that they recently released for educators. I applied for the educator version of Canva which allowed myself and my students access to all of the premium features on Canva for free. The educator version also allows the teacher to add all of their students to the class, and any project that they create they can share with you, receive feedback, and download files to share them on other platforms as well. I have my students download their projects and upload them to Seesaw activities for their parents to view and to include in their digital portfolios.

Project #1

The first project that I had my students create on Canva was creating their own 7 Sacred Teachings poster. Every month our administration focuses on one of the 7 sacred teachings during our morning assemblies (Love, courage, wisdom, truth, honesty, humility and respect). We often watch videos from the Grandfather teachings by Elder Hazel and discuss how we can incorporate these teachings into our daily lives. Each student chose which teaching they wanted to recreate for their own poster, and explain how they can demonstrate that teaching in their life. Here are some examples of their posters. Each teaching is represented by an animal. The students did a great job for this being their first experience with Canva.

Project #2

The next project that I had the students explore was creating an infographic. An infographic differs from a poster because the template is longer in size and allows for more space for information rather than just visuals. In health, we have been discussing infectious diseases. I had each student research an infectious disease, and then create an infographic explaining their infectious disease. This time around the students explored with more templates, graphics, text options and information. Again, the students really seemed to enjoy the process of creating a digital project just like I do.

Project #3

Lastly, my class will be participating in this year’s Saskatchewan Virtual Heritage Fair. The objective is for students to choose a topic related to Canadian heritage and complete a report on this topic and become an expert. Topics vary from the Canadian military to Tim Hortons, the Canadian Goose or even maple syrup. I gave my students the option of choosing a traditional poster, an essay, a PowerPoint or a video. Once students are complete, they will upload all of their files to the Heritage fair website and the committee will judge all of the projects. There is the potential for different age categories to win prizes and be recognized on a provincial level. For the students that choose the video option, I will have them use the video creator within Canva as I have previous experience with it. I showed my students my Summary of Learning video that I created in the fall of 2021 so that they could see what Canva is capable of for creating digital videos. Students will have to endure a bit of a learning curve to learn how to navigate the program however, I am willing to spend some extra time with those students that want the challenge of creating a video and stepping outside of their comfort zone. If you have any comments or questions regarding personal or professional use of Canva, please leave your thoughts below!

Using OneNote in the Classroom

During my personal journey into media, I chose to dive into the world of OneNote with my students. I had very briefly used OneNote with my staff members to book out rooms within my school building such as the library, mini gym and multipurpose room. However, I was merely just viewing and editing someone else’s notebook that they created. My goal for this project was to set up a class OneNote with my students and actively use it for a digital novel study.

Creating A Class Notebook

To begin, I first reached out to a colleague of mine to help create my classroom notebook. I had to go in and add all of my students using their school email and then choose some different settings such as having a collaboration space and creating a couple subject folders to get started. You can also add other teachers to your OneNote if you have prep teachers that wanted to utilize the same class notebook for your students. The nice thing about OneNote is that my students are already familiar with other Office 365 applications so they have some previous knowledge going into it. They can access it from any device both at school and at home which is helpful when students are away from school. Each student has their own space where only themselves and the teachers can see their work. I create lessons with the content library and then distribute the pages out to the students when I assign them.

Digital Read Aloud – City of Ember

For my next class read aloud I chose the novel “City of Ember” by Jeanne Duprau. This novel is dystopian fiction which is a different genre than the other books we have read this year already which have been historical fiction and realistic fiction. The story is about Ember, a post-apocalyptic underground city threatened by two-hundred-year-old aging infrastructure and corruption. The young protagonist, Lina Mayfleet, and her friend, Doon Harrow (the second protagonist), follow clues left behind by the original builders of the City of Ember, to safety in the outside world. I have been reading this novel to my class twice a week and on the days that we are not reading, they are completing their OneNote responses. We started out with book predictions and a class, and each week I distribute the two different chapters for them at a time.

This resource is from Tpt by “Nothing But Class” – https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/The-City-of-Ember-Novel-Study-Unit–4317953

While students were completing their weekly responses, they were learning valuable tech skills while using OneNote. I often spent the first few days helping students find different tools within the app and troubleshooting issues that they were having. Some common obstacles that the students faced were bringing their textboxes to the front and setting the picture as the background. Sometimes we had wifi troubles so then the students wouldn’t have to make sure they had a proper connection or else they would lose their work from the last sync. I also had students experiment with the drawing tool as some questions asked to draw a picture. If the drawing tool wasn’t for them, I also gave them the option of uploading images to their notebook as well.

This past week we got to the halfway point in the book. Now that the students have been practicing using OneNote for a few weeks I wanted them to try out the collaboration space by doing a small group assignment. I created a City of Ember Group Work folder within the collaboration space and assigned students to six different groups. Within these, each group had a different task that I wanted them to complete together. I did a class lesson explaining how the collaboration space works and that everyone in the class including myself, is able to see who typed what. I made it very clear that they weren’t to change or modify anyone’s work without their permission. I sent the students on their way to work together on their assignment and these were the results after about 30 minutes.

Obstacles

Some of the challenges that the students experienced were accidentally deleting content within the page. They knew to use the “undo” button however, sometimes they went into slight panic mode and they thought that it was gone forever. The students used different font colours for each member as a visual to see who answered which question. Each textbox leaves the student’s initials with it however, the colours are easier to identify. Another challenge we encountered was having OneNote “Conflicts”. This is when more than one person is altering a page at the same time and OneNote saves more than one copy of the original due to poor wifi connection. I had to go in on my end to fix this problem myself which had a simple fix once I found the solution. Overall, I was please with the online group work that my students were able to experience despite the challenges they had to overcome in the process. I will be using the collaboration space a couple more times within this novel study.

Once we finish our novel, which will be about a week before Easter break, I am wanting my students to do their final project using the website StoryboardThat which is a free online platform that allows students to create a digital comic strip using scenes, characters and objects that are all animated to tell a story. I will have my students choose a specific chapter from the book and have them recreate that chapter using this website. Then, I will have them upload their storyboards to the collaboration space on OneNote where we can share and view them with the class together. StoryboardThat has so many different tutorial videos as well that I plan on using to show my students what the program is capable of creating.

In conclusion, I will definitely plan on continuing the use of Class OneNote with my students. I hope to use it for some different subject areas and units before the school year is over. I know that the grade 7 and 8 teachers at my school also use OneNote, so I will be sending them students next year already having some understanding of how the program works. If you have any questions or comments about my experience with OneNote please feel free to leave a comment below!

Progress With Minecraft EDU

Over the last couple of months, my students have been experimenting with Minecraft EDU in the classroom. I would say for the most part it has been a very positive experience. There will always be bumps in the road when navigating new digital platforms, but the most exciting part of this Minecraft journey is how engaged the students were throughout the entire process. To the point where it is the only activity they want to do if they have free time with technology at school.

The first activity that we did as a class was “Sustainability City”. I wrote about this in my previous blog post about Minecraft if you would like to check it out. This was a guided exploration through an already created world where students learnt about sustainable food production, water treatment, green buildings, and much more. This directly connected with our social studies unit at the time for grade 6 resources and wealth.

The second Minecraft Edu lesson that we explored was creating a campsite. In health, we learnt about outdoor safety and survival. To wrap up this unit I ask the students to create a campfire/campsite on Minecraft. This was their first time building within Minecraft and using the Screenshot feature within Minecraft Edu. They uploaded their project to Seesaw and included what was needed to create a successful campfire.

Lastly, to wrap up our comic book unit in English Language Arts, students were to create their own interactive comic strip using Minecraft. They screen-recorded using screencast-o-matic and explained their story, and then uploaded it to Seesaw. This was a great opportunity for students to practice their speaking skills and experiment with recording an audio project.  

Check out both of my videos to see the progress! I hope to continue using Minecraft EDU throughout the rest of the school year and see how we can utilize it in different ways and keep the students engaged in exciting lessons.

Major Project – Minecraft EDU

In my initial post regarding my major project, I had brainstormed a few ideas of some applications that I wanted to dive into. One of the more student-focused applications I want to explore further is Minecraft Education. Before Christmas, I spent a good hour with my students downloading the Minecraft EDU desktop app onto each of the student computers. We have access to this program through their school email addresses which made for easy login. When my students found out that we were going to be using Minecraft Education in school, they were very excited. So many of them already had previous experience playing Minecraft at home, that I knew they would end up teaching me more than them at least at the start.

Prior to downloading this application on the student devices, I had zero experience with Minecraft. My only understanding of it was that it is a video game where you can build worlds and interact with other players online. I was skeptical at first when I first came across Minecraft Education in the classroom, however, I quickly went from weary to very excited by all of the opportunities it can have for the classroom. If you’re like me and don’t have a sniff of a clue what Minecraft EDU entails, watch this short video clip.

For a few lessons, I let my students have some exploration time on Minecraft to make sure all of the students were comfortable using the application before I gave them their first actual assignment using Minecraft. This also allowed me to jump into the game and learn from my students about how to navigate the controls, how to build things and operate all of the different settings. Once I felt confident that my class had a good understanding of how to use the application I sent them on their first mission.

Within the subject kits, I had them work on a sustainability assignment. We are currently doing Resources and Wealth in social studies, specifically working on the outcome RW6.2 Contribute to initiating and guiding change in local and global communities regarding environmental, social, and economic sustainability. These lessons are pre-made and can be found under the subject kits category, this one was specifically in the climate & sustainability section. The world is called “Sustainability city” and within this world, there are 6 different lessons including, food production, water treatment, green buildings, forestry, energy efficiency and power grids. This youtube video gives you a look at what this world looks like as your move through the first lesson.

Using the Minecraft EDU website, I found the teacher guide to this activity where they had essential questions for each of the lessons. I used these essential questions as my guide for creating my assignment for the students. It looked something like this.

If anyone is interested I’d love to share! Except I need to make some adjustments first.

Once I send the kids on their Minecraft journey, we quickly ran into some roadblocks. Some of the questions were not as easy to find the answers within the game compared to others. Hiensite, I should have gone through the game entirely myself instead of just assuming that the students would easily be able to find the answer to each of the questions. Some we couldn’t find at all but were more just a general understanding of concepts versus actually finding the information from the person in the game. Overall the students were still mostly successful, however now I know that I do need to tailor the assignments a bit to make sure the students are still challenged but don’t feel completely in the dark when exploring the different worlds. One of the best parts of this assignment was that I had students helping other students. I already had experts in the class that knew more than I did and I had students asking their peers for help instead of always asking me for guidance. It was great to see them working with each other.

Here is a short little Tiktok that I made of my class working on the Sustainability Assignment on Minecraft EDU

When we look at the 9 elements of digital citizenship by Dr. Mike Ribble, my students were encompassing so many of the different elements while they worked through this lesson. For students to be successful with this application they first had to learn the skills required to navigate it. This falls under the digital literacy element. Secondly, digital access is important for using Minecraft EDU because we receive IT support from our school division to be able to download and have user accounts for this platform. Next, depending on the lessons, students can interact with each other within the different worlds which requires them to understand the concept of digital etiquette and responsibility while online. We discuss this concept a lot during our digital citizenship lessons but this is actually putting those lessons into practice. And lastly, digital safety and security. This application has many built-in safety features to keep kids safe while online. Only those with the classroom code can join the world, and only first names are used. No other personal information is shared with the server, and the worlds are all private except for the students in our classroom working together.

Diving Into The World of Tech Apps

After browsing through the different options for the major digital project, I have concluded that I will be choosing option 2: A Personal Journey Into Media. I have chosen this route because I want to explore both social and educational apps in-depth. Exploring both the social and educational impacts of these applications is of great interest to me because of how integrated they have become into my student’s worlds and mine. In addition, I am interested to learn more about both the positive and negatives of these different platforms and sharing my findings with others.

For starters, I am most interested in investing Twitter. My goal for this semester is to engage more frequently with Twitter, and choosing it to research for my project, will only enforce that even more. I will be researching it through the lens of both a social media app and as an educational teaching tool. If I have learnt anything from my previous educational technology classes, the line between social and educational apps can be very grey and often intersect with each other.


Additionally, I want to further my understanding and knowledge of the app TikTok. For this application, I will be researching it more through the lens of strictly personal social media and less as a tool to use in the classroom. I want to dive into the psychology and sociology of this app because it is one of the fastest-growing social media platforms out there due to the pandemic, and more people are choosing content creation as a line of work. I personally really enjoy TikTok from a user perspective. However, I will be exploring it from a creation perspective as well (ex., the creator fund, advertisements, partnerships, etc.).


Lastly, I want to explore a more education-specific application to engage myself and my students within the classroom actively. I haven’t narrowed it down to just one tool yet; however, I have brainstormed some ideas, including; Microsoft Sway, Flipgrid, Quizlet, or Edpuzzle. If you have any suggestions of a classroom technology tool that I should try implementing, please leave a comment below! There are so many out there it can be challenging to choose just one.


I may also include a section of this assignment for demonstrating how Planboard works. Many teachers may already use this website; however, it has been my saving grace, and I love sharing it with others. Planboard replaces paper copies of teacher day plans and lesson plans. It is a website that creates your weekly schedules, including subjects, breaks, supervisions, day 1-5 calendar, non-student days and holidays all saved into one place. It also can be accessed on any device, can be emailed & printed as a sub plan, and saves space on your desk from having a physical daybook in front of you. I know many teachers that were hesitant to switch after using paper copies for decades but were very happy they did once they got the program set up. Please let me know any of your thoughts on these social and educational apps if you have any experience with them!

Here is an example of my blank day plan at a week’s glance! This is always the first tab that I have open on my computer everyday.