Two of our teachers on the grade 6 Learning Community team ~ Jessie Krefting and Michelle Kershaw, had the opportunity to attend a conference ~ Inclusion: Multiple Lenses with two Parkland School Division representatives, Emilie Keane, Acting Assistant Superintendent and Nicole Lakusta, Learning Technology Facilitator on March 1 and 2 at the Fantasyland Hotel.
Guest speakers Alex Dunn, along with Kathy Howery, Educational Consultant Doctoral student at the University of Alberta, presented on supporting inclusion in Alberta through the use of Smartboard and other Assistive Technology in classrooms.
Jessie and Michelle spent the two days further developing their skills in these areas, asking questions and seeking strategies and support to continue to support all of our learners at Greystone Centennial Middle School by embedding technology in their classrooms and by sharing their plans with colleagues in the school. They came away very excited and eager with a plan to implement their ideas in the classroom. This past week, in an everlasting quest to providing meaningful and engaging learning opportunities for student learning, Jessie and Michelle encouraged the students who already have a Nintendo DS, DS Lite or 3DS (or any other of the DS family members) to bring them into Math class. Why you might be asking? Well there is a very cool function on the DS called Pictochat that allows the students to join a chatroom, which is not on the Internet, and carry on a conversation. The teachers along with a student teacher combined the two classes along with multiple DS devices and they all joined a chatroom together. As they were going through the lesson, the students that had a DS were able to ask questions about the problems, indicate if they had finished the problem or to share their answers. This in turn allowed other students to answer a peers’ question or to discuss how they got an answer and explain their thought process. In addition this also allowed Jessie and Michelle to get around to more students to see where they were at and assist as needed. As part of the process the teachers asked the students to reflect on this new experience and this is what they heard:
* Today went by really quickly and I enjoyed being as a big group. I think pictochat would be a good way to communicate without interrupting peoples thoughts. Although I will not be able to bring my DS without an email from my teacher. (a parent email sharing the lesson was sent as follow up)
* I feel that our math class went really well today. It feels like we went more smoothly than any other day. Using Pictochat would be helpful instead of leaving the person that you were helping.
* I feel good about today’s math lesson because we learned that we could use electronics for questions. We could use it by asking questions, and give someone an answer to THEIR question.
* I like that we are trying to incorporate technology into our math. The math seemed to move faster than usual. I see that Pictochat has helped because there was less noise and people could work at their own pace. If there was a question it was easier to ask plus if the question was already asked you could look back.
* Today I feel that math class was a lot funner and I learned a lot from this lesson. Using Pictochat helps and probably others by asking questions, learning a different way, etc.
* I think the math group went really well I like how we get to use the DS’s. I think the Pictochat is really useful. It would be nice if the school could have DS’s.
We are exploring the use of IPODs in the classroom as a home school communication tool by utilizing the voice recording and calendar application. In addition students are accessing Vocaroo to capture learning as it happens so it can be shared with their parents and teachers. We are finding this to be an excellent strategy for students who experience challenges with written expression.
As we continue to move forward in creating meaningful, real life learning experiences for our students we look forward to sharing how 21st century learning and technology will continue to drive and support our practice. It is important for us as educators and adults in the lives of our students to be responsive to their needs and the “technologically” evolving society in which we live.