Archive for Integrated Technology

Greystone Hosts Our First Learning Day

IMG_4922

We stepped outside of our comfort zone at Greystone as we opened the doors to our school and our classrooms for a day of learning together last Friday. Our students and staff “walked the talk” of making our learning public, transparent and meaningful as we invited educators from our School Division and beyond to co-create a day of shared learning. Fifty teachers, administrators, district superintendents moved in and out of our classrooms talking to our students and staff about how learning is being made purposeful, deep and intellectually engaging at Greystone. We shared our practices and asked for feedback around the following topics:

– Formative Assessment through feedback loops, co-creating criteria, sharing learning intentions
– Thinking Strategies including Questioning, Socratic Circles, See-Think-Wonder, Chalk Talk and Debate
– Inquiry Projects that embed the Alberta Education Competencies
– Team Teaching
– Innovation Week
– Teacher Collaboration and Planning Time
– Flexible Block Scheduling
– Looping
– Alternative Classroom Design & Flexible Groupings of Students
– Mindfulness
– Bring Your Own Device Initiative

The day included sharing and conversation from our guests, too, as they joined and/or facilitated informal “EdCamp Style” discussions in the afternoon.

The highlight of the day was definitely our students! Our guests shared feedback with us about how well our students were able to speak the language of their learning as they described the work they are doing and the purpose behind it.

Congratulations to our Greystone Family for creating a day of memorable learning for each other and our guests. Thanks to all of our guests for joining us. Here are a few tweets from the day:

The Power of Professional Learning and Communication

Screen Shot 2014-06-08 at 5.09.27 PM

Laura Robert has just finished her third year with us at Greystone Centennial Middle School. This year, Laura worked with our youngest students at Greystone in Learning Community 5. Laura brought so much to her students and her team this year – her caring, thoughtful nature, her desire to continuously learn and her commitment to collaboration with her colleagues. Laura also spear headed our school’s “We Care Team” sharing her desire to help our students make a difference in the lives of others outside of our school community.

Professional Growth Plan Reflection 2013-14 ~ Laura Robert

Communication Goal

At the start of the year I made a goal to develop effective communication with my students and their parents in order to ensure the establishment of positive relationships that would lay a foundation for their learning at Greystone. I wanted to especially focus on the aspects of collaboration and evidence. With so many avenues for communication available I found that I had to adjust my approach depending on the needs of the student or parent.

 

Many families responded that they appreciated the Remind 101 texting system, notes, letters, agendas, and emails that provided them with general updates throughout the year. Families actively utilized the availability of email to stay in touch, address concerns, or let me know about things my students were dealing with at home. I feel they appreciated how quickly I tried to respond, making myself available if they had a question or concern.

 

I was able to create a classroom blog that provided families with day to day activities, upcoming curriculum, concepts, or studies, and evidence of the students’ opportunities to learn in class. All of us in LC5 even started to push the envelope further and assist our students in creating their own school blogs where they could journal and reflect on their personal learning. Although I feel this form of communication has some of the greatest potential I do not feel it was as successful as I had originally hoped. After putting a lot of thought and effort into making this an informative tool very few families would make a point of visiting my blog, or their child’s blog on a regular basis. Without an invested audience my response was to spend more time on other ways  of communicating with students and parents. I have been planning strategies for improving my own consistency with the blog posting and develop ways to give families more incentive to connect through blogs (focusing on the evidence of learning-shown through their child’s blog posts) and by sending regular links and questions out through our blog for families to go over at home.

 

The comment based report cards given each term provides students and families with far more than just a vague generalization of their marks. Instead the report cards that we produce pinpoint specific skills within each discipline, and evaluate a student’s level of independent competency in each individual area. I tell my students and their families that the most valuable part of these report cards are the detailed comments. I felt confident that the comments I made for each of my students clearly identified their individual learning.  I connected the key words discussed within class (based on our poster “What are we learning today?”) to guide these observations and recommendations. Although these comments are simply a snapshot of the students’ learning, it was an opportunity to communicate with, initiate important conversations, and gain support from many parents who strived to work with me to assist their child in meeting these goals!

 

Effective communication was especially vital when working with my grade 5 teaching team. Although the idea of working with 6 other very independent and unique individuals (most of whom I had never met before this year) seemed quite daunting, it turned out to be a winning combination! Each day everyone brought everything they had to the table, and invested all of themselves into each other and “our kids.” The excitement of working in tangent with these accomplished teachers who were willing to put themselves on the line, learn something new, or take a risk help me grow as a teacher. We developed solutions for accomplishing tasks more efficiently, and utilizing the team time in our time table by dividing our group into two parts. Communication was especially important between these groups to ensure that consistency was not lost in this gap. Although it was a challenge we established multiple routes of connecting with each other including joint google docs., consistent emails, sharing of resources, and of course the very best…spending quality time face to face with each other. We all seemed to enjoy moments to connect, and would seek out opportunities to get to know each other on a professional and personal level. We appreciated each others differences, and encouraged each other when things were difficult. I believe this positive and trusting relationship among the teachers was often reflected in the culture developed within our pod. The consistency and support for each other provided our students with an understanding of expectations and clear boundaries. Joan, Ashley, Derek, April, Jessica, Luke, and I  went through a lot together this year, and working with them (along with others in the school) has made this year one of the best in my teaching career!

 

I believe that our students are set up for optimum success when there is close communication between families, teachers, educational assistants, administration, and others. In this way there is a community established that works with the student to foster a secure learning environment with plenty of opportunities the student can choose to embrace. I have learned a lot this year about developing individualized routes of communication and support that has established a strong foundation of trust in our school. I plan to continue to strengthen the relationships I have built with my teaching colleagues, my students and their families into the coming year!

Personal Professional Development Opportunity Highlights

This spring I was given the opportunity to attend the Innovate West conference in Calgary at the Connect Charter School. The most beneficial part of this conference was getting to interact with students from the Connect Charter school within their classrooms, and listening to them describe their learning process. It was very exciting to see how eloquently they spoke about their learning, and how they had developed critical thinking strategies. One of our sessions Jeff Couillard led a discussion about how to transform our ideas to opportunities within the classroom. Instead of just generating broad dreams for the future, he gave us planners that could organize our thoughts into tangible plans for implementation. Some of us who attended this session from Greystone have already started to use this guide to structure a program to promote cyber citizenship next year, which could be joined with our health curriculum. Another session I attended was called Pinning down the “unpindownable”: Assessing Creativity. Erin Quinn and Stephanie Bartlett led this collaborative demonstration of how to foster creative ideas, while still coming alongside students and facilitating an open discussion with them to help develop goals for improving their skills. Another notable session I attended was one led by Ryan Siemens and Jen Friske. They described their experience facilitating concept driven (rather than topic focused) curriculum in order to develop more internationally minded students. I felt challenged and inspired by the keynote speakers like Michelle Baldwin, Josh Hill, and Brad Ovenell-Carter…but even more so through conversations with other educators and my co-workers, whose drive to guide innovation and learning was electrifying!

 

Through our annual teachers convention I learned from a variety of well-versed speakers. One of these amazing speakers was Erin Gruwell (Achieving the Impossible: Become a Catalyst for Change), who teaches groups of students who have been pigeon-holed as “unteachable.” Even as a young teacher she was able to break through the tough exteriors of these inner city kids to help redirect their lives. The avenue they chose for escaping was “The Freedom Writers Diary.” This speaker brought me back to my first teaching job at Bosco Homes Academy working with high school students “at the end of the road.” I remembered the faces of my students who had been hurt by the world, and needed a way out. For a couple of these students writing and art had been their release. I also attended sessions like Shelagh Rogers’ who spoke on mental illness and creating healthier work spaces and Oliver Samonte who provided tools to teach students who spoke English as their second language. I attended the session led by Jesse McLean where he described the alternative classroom designs our school has been exploring, and even though I had seen many of our “softer” classrooms in action, it was very interesting to hear the responses from other interested teachers. One of the most amazing opportunities was listening to Eva Olsson describe her life as a Holocaust survivor in WWII. She spoke on how we each have the responsibility to pass on a legacy of caring, compassion and character to those we teach. She spoke on needing courage and determination to overcome prejudice attitudes. Through her whole talk the audience was enraptured, awestruck, by this tiny woman who had decided that she could no longer be silent about the pain she had suffered, and the message of resilience she was compelled to share. I felt overwhelmed and empowered at the same time, knowing I was truly blessed to learn from these amazing teachers!

 

I really appreciated the thought and purpose behind our Greystone Professional Development days this year as well! I felt that from the very first retreat kick off, there was a clear goal to develop and foster collaboration and camaraderie between teachers, teams, and administration at Greystone. The planning time we were given was extremely effective in establishing trust, and initiating some incredible ideas we could put to work in our classrooms. One of my favorite PD days at Greystone was when Rapid Fire Theatre group was brought in to work with the staff. This provided us with an opportunity to step out of our comfort zone, and recognize how this often feels to our students. I brought away from this experience a realization that a simple look, word, or even closed body language could put barriers up and discourage a student…or how the opposite could encourage them to take risks! This was the best year for PD because of the fitness and interaction nature of the lunches! The majority of our staff members participated in various unique activities from yoga, Tai Chi, Basketball, to even an enormous omnikin ball game. These are not just “fun” and “games,” but it is time for our staff to connect on a personal level, and develop a community of trust. Although all of us have different experiences and often different opinions, I believe that there is loyalty and respect among our staff that guides the dedicated work ethic within and sense of family within our school.

Learning Along With Them

ASH_6141-10j3jc5

Ashley Solomon joined us at Greystone this year from a teaching position in London, England. I met her first, via Skype, as we interviewed her while she was still teaching overseas. I was excited to meet her for the first time as the video feed cut out when we were talking on-line, so I really didn’t know what to expect when I finally got to see her in person. She certainly didn’t disappoint when she brought her energy and commitment to teaching inside the walls of Greystone. Ashley will be looping up to grade 6 with her current Learning Community 5 students and we can’t wait to see the creativity and passion for learning continue to unfold with her students.

Professional Growth Plan Reflection – Ash Solomon

Greystone Centennial Middle School, 2013 – 2014

As I think back on the year that has passed, I cannot help but think back to the first day I heard that I would be coming to Greystone. I knew instantly it would be a great experience for me as I was informed by Carolyn via email that I would be joining the team. Not only was it an email, but it included a smiley face and even some elusive exclamation marks. I told some of my old colleagues in my last school and they could not believe that a) the principal would email me directly or b) that they would use such enthusiasm in a job offer. From that moment I knew I was in for something special.

Coming into a new school is a scary proposition; however, I was lucky to instantly be greeted by my team who was made up of a lot of new faces to the school as well. Working collaboratively happened at my last school, but it came from the teachers wanting it with little support from above. Working in a school where it is supported top down has made it feel so easy to challenge my practice and others’ opinions as well as feel ok to have mine challenged. Having the opportunity to present on this subject at the Calgary Innovation West conference really opened my eyes to how lucky we are and the benefits of collaborative teaching. Firstly, I feel so supported by my team. This has been a great feeling and I do not have to “do it all” because we all help each other to push our practice. Secondly, it has helped with my work life balance since we create assessments, rubrics, even report card comment banks together. These were things I used to stay up tirelessly doing myself. Lastly and most importantly, it has been a good example for my students. Because I feel so confident in sharing and collaborating I feel more confident than ever doing this with my class and guiding them through the process.

This brings me to my successes this year. I looked at the question “Do I have a warm and caring classroom climate in which errors are welcome?”. This has been the piece that has been vital to 5C this year. We are a family and it truly feels that way. I have been more vulnerable this year in my teaching and allowing myself to highlight the areas I need work in, such as writing, and together as a class we learned together. I have been beyond proud with the writing and work ethic that has come out of my class as a result. Showing my students that falling down is ok has been good, but being able to pick them up and teach them one of the most important skills, resiliency, has been the most rewarding.

Technology has played a huge role in our class this year and I have loved playing more with the idea of sharing our learning beyond the walls of the building and even the country. Last week I had 5 visits from Germany alone, which was pretty neat. Teaching students to be technologically literate I believe is so important for their future. My class will be my age in 2030 (which makes me feel rather old), but that seems such a foreign time to me and I feel it is my duty to prepare them for this tech savy world. We have worked extensively on google docs and our blogs which has been so rewarding since the ease of sharing our learning has exponentially expanded.

I say our learning a lot in my classroom because I believe that is what it should be, me learning along with them. This has been my biggest lesson of this year. Letting go of some control and allowing us to do it together instead of me having to cram to figure it all out the night before. Modelling my learning experience along with my class has made them feel safe to make mistakes and to not be “perfect” as they like to say.

Next year I want to push my practice even further in a few areas. I have been thinking long and hard about collaborative teaching, and even if I do not have a physical space for this, I would like to work more with my colleagues in front of the students so they can see the process we all go through in collaboration and give my students more perspectives on teaching. I also want to work at creating a more plush classroom with more plants (yes more) and a rug or two and hopefully more couches. The reason for this is simple, the golden rule; do unto others as you would have done unto yourself. It is easy to forget how crummy the classroom seats are from our cushy plush desk chairs (why is that?), but I have spent enough time at the students tables this year to understand their pain. Lastly I want to push even farther in my use of technology to share our learning  beyond the classroom and to have others learning from beyond the classroom to be shared  within.

I truly cannot wait to see what next year has in store and I am so thankful to have 5C (now 6C!!!) back again. I hope I have pushed their learning as much as they have pushed mine.

Developing Good Citizens

 

Christy Haggarty, Humanities 9 Teacher, is passionate about the Social Studies curriculum. She is always looking for ways to help our students live the values identified within the program of studies and to bring the complicated key understandings to life for our students. This year, Christy introduced students to a web-based computer game “The Civic Mirror” in order to capture their interest while developing their knowledge connected to creating a democratic community.

What an incredible year. This year has been such a significant one for me both professionally and personally.  My oldest son graduated from high school this year; I felt proud, I felt relieved, and mainly I was left wondering where the time went, and if we did enough to help prepare him for the future. My middle child had an incredible year of development, growing so fast, learning so much, and developing and expressing his unique sense of humour and expressive personality. My youngest was just born in December. She is so tiny, so innocent, and so full of promise with her bright eyes and gentle smile. I left my students at Christmas break to have her, and came back to them this spring. Many people think I’m crazy, or “super” in some respect, but I’m not. My family, and my students, made it an easy decision and simple transition. 

This group of students is the last I will loop with while I stay a grade 9 teacher. Over the last two years I have developed strong relationships with them, as well as their families, but mainly with them. I have never had a group quite like this: so funny, so well behaved and respectful, and so caring and accepting of one another. I was sad to leave them in December, and I was happy to come back in spring. I missed them all, and I value each of them as a part of my life. They have reaffirmed my decision to teach, as each of them have tremendous potential and character that I was honoured to help shape. They are such a diverse group; some athletic, some academic, some talented artistically, some with charisma oozing out of every pore, some gentle, quiet and kind souls. I have had to redefine success the past few years, as many struggled with higher level critical thinking skills. I wasn’t able to define them strictly by their academic success – I had to look at them as individual citizens, and think about the contributions and steps forward that they made as people in my community, and this has helped me redefine my role as teacher and educator. Had I given them worksheets and tests and worried strictly about their ability to recall information, this group might have been difficult to label as a success and celebrate. But these kids are gifted in so many different ways, and they are such wonderful people, I feel so proud to send them on to high school and beyond.

In November, I was also gifted with an incredible opportunity. I was selected to take part in the Teacher’s Institute on Parliamentary Democracy in Ottawa. At this point, it has been the pinnacle of my career to be recognized this way, and was such an incredible learning opportunity. So many excellent educators, brought together in Ottawa, with first hand opportunities to learn from parliamentarians past and present, as well as parliamentary staff, and to collaborate with each other.  As a political studies junkie, this fed and worsened my commitment to democratic ideals and need to ensure I am doing my part to educate good citizens, not just academic successes. Over and over again, from Senators to parliamentary staff, we heard that the most important thing we can do as educators is to prime them and encourage them to participate in our country as active, contributing citizens. I go back to a blog post that I made after meeting our Governor General, as there is no other way for me to say it:

All educators, he stated, were responsible as stewards of our system to look after it and continue to improve the system itself, and the citizens within it.  He was passionate about having all Canadians participate in our government somehow, and recognized citizenship and civic participation as our greatest agenda. When asked what he saw as the greatest purpose for teachers, he said “Encourage your students to see the whole.”  He encouraged us to ask our students to not just worry about learning compartmentalized bits of information, but to think in larger systems theory approaches and adopt critical thinking where they can analyze data and information and relate it to the world around them. He wanted us to ensure that as stewards of our education system and of our government, that we encouraged all students to participate to the best of their ability in society and government, at whatever level that was, and to do things for people because it is the right thing to do.

… I think about teaching moments where I have felt that energy that comes from enabling students to connect the dots to the world around them, and I suddenly feel like I don’t have enough of them. It is becoming increasingly clear to me that our government, with all of its complex processes and documents, is truly for the people of Canada, and the responsibility of all Canadians to understand how it is the fabric of our society and represents our fundamental values. There is no aspect of our lives that goes untouched by it, and there is nobody that cannot be a part of contributing to it on whatever level they choose, at whatever age they choose. 

As my own children move into significantly different stages of their lives, it refocuses my parenting and interactions with them, valuing every moment and using every opportunity to teach them about what it means to be a good citizen, and how to care for each other. I am also so lucky that this group of students allowed me to “see the whole” and I feel that this is by far the most important thing that I have learned from them.  I pushed them academically to encourage critical and creative thinking, and sometimes even just to participate at times. I have needed patience, perseverance, flexibility and have had to invest in them and engage them as fellow citizens, which was incredibly frustrating at times. This is, however, a group that I have enjoyed as one of the most kind, caring and fun-loving bunch of students that I have ever taught, and this is a group who has made me be a better citizen, a better teacher, and a better mom. When I tell them that I will miss them, it is heartfelt and true.

A Roller Coaster Ride with the Family

Joan Papp is an experienced teacher from Learning Community 6. She has been with us at Greystone since we opened our doors eight years ago. During her time with us, she has seen lots of ups and downs, new faces and has been with us for some amazing adventures. Through it all, Joan has embraced change and new learning – she serves as a role model for us all in demonstrating teamwork, patience and lifelong learning. I know you are going to provide wisdom and experience to your new colleagues in Learning Community 5 next year, Joan – and I trust with your leadership, they will learn to “grab an oar and row together!”

Well here I am again at my computer almost a month late with my Professional Reflection.   I told myself this wouldn’t happen again. Where does time go and where to begin…My Family, no, My Greystone Family.  I consider Greystone and the people here as my extended family.  I love to come to work where I feel welcome and needed. It is I where I want to be. But life in any family can be like a roller coaster.

Roller coasters  are exhilarating.  They really get the blood pumping but there are those dips when you feel a little nauseated.  I shouldn’t have had that hotdog but I’ll be ok.  I can ride it out, pull myself back together and do it different next time.  I will get back on track. Let me relate…The Sky Science  i-Pad Project.  We thought this was going to be great. Get the kids pumped. Generate those questions that lead to inquiry.  Let them explore and learn.  Pull them back to that question. Use the wonderful technology we have.  Pull them back to that question.  Find those shadows that never appeared because of cloud cover last fall. Learning how to use the i-Pad. Pull them back to that question. Check the curriculum.  Neat stuff we are exploring but not a lot of it is the BIG BOOK. Panic.  Add some critical lessons. We need to move on. It’s a few weeks until Christmas now, Panic.  I did not feel the family love during this time.  The Learning Coach’s encouraging words were bouncing off my shield of steel. The tension in our little team family was tense. This is when I really would have preferred to be an orphan.  In the end on the P.A.T. (swear word) our students scored well on the Sky Science questions. I guess we did something right. Move on.

Then there is that let’s go faster, this is boundless, give me more, I can’t get enough of this ride.  I found this in the oddest place, Humanities, Canadian Democracy, no less.  I had that oh, wow moment. Let me digress. Over the years we have been given documents, rubrics, discussions, reflection and videos on critical thinking and inquiry. When they start to naturally fall into place and you actually live it…WOW. I can look back and go “this makes sense”. 

Canada is a democratic country.  We are so fortunate to live here. We are safe, treated fairly, have a say in how things are done and we are free.  It seems like a simple message.  So how do we let them live it? Experience it? Appreciate and embrace it?  We, as a team, DID IT. How?  The legacy that this group of students leaves to Greystone is there will be traffic lights on the corner of Greystone Drive and Grove Drive where people will be able to cross safely and traffic will not be backed up at peak hours. Our voice was heard. The students understand that they can make a change.

Through novel studies students learned about different places in the world that do not have the rights that we share, students appreciated what we have through reading the novel ”The Breadwinner”.

“Mrs. Papp, I used to think that missing a day of school was fun but all she wants is to be able to go to school and she can’t.” Logan.

But we didn’t stop there. We continued to read “Among the Hidden”.  Students were eager to share how the character was treated unfairly under our Charter of Rights.  “Stealing Home” – the Jackie Robinson story – students began to understand how minorities need to have equity in our society. They get it. Well most do.

We all love this part of the roller coaster ride where we have made the trip successfully.  This is when I want to embrace my team.  I love my job.  More than that, I love the people I work with.  You are my Greystone Family.  This is my happy place.

I knew that I was going to see changes in my team for next year but I was blindsided by the amount of changes.  I knew that Claudia would always be there as a learning coach. She will still be on the next roller coaster ride just not in the same car.  I will miss the close teaching relationship we shared but our friendship will continue.  Craig was ready for a change but I was a little taken aback that he is moving up to grade 9 next year.  I know he will do well.  Again, he is just riding in another car.

Then there is Patty.  This is when the roller coaster stops and she gets off.  It was different when she was away on maternity leave and would be joining the ride next year.  This year she is not coming back.  This is very difficult for me, as selfish as that may sound. She is my colleague, my curling skip but more than that, she is my friend and I am going to miss her dearly.  My saving grace is that I have met her Mom, Rose. Patty is going to where she and her family need to be. Although I am sad, my heart goes out to Rose that she will have Patty and her beautiful family closer to her.

I can’t forget my curling. I don’t know if my team knows how great it is to have one evening out a week in the long winter, when my husband is away.  Sometimes I feel like the roller coaster never ends. It just loops from here to Fort McMurray and back again.  Even if we don’t win, we are getting better, we have fun.

I look forward to the ride next year.  There will be a few new loop-da-loops, highs and screaming lows but I’m ready.  I still have my family to back me and these new additions to our family will be assets.  Let’s go for a roller coaster ride.

Greystone is where I need to be.  I need to be with my family.  I look forward to tomorrow.

Learning to Say No – It’s a Good Thing!

This reflection comes from our Learning Community 8 Teacher, Matthew Stelmaschuk. Matt is a keen Math/Science Teacher who does a lot of extras for everyone around our school. He coaches, he helps colleagues with technology, serves as an ATA Rep for our school and he is AMAZING at building strong relationships with students, families and colleagues. Matt has agreed to be Greystone’s Acting Principal next year – his calm, solutions-focused approach to dealing with any situation makes him a perfect fit to handle our busy middle school when our administrators are out of the building. Have fun in Africa this summer, Matt!

Growth Plan Reflection

 

 

The Year in Review

The Professional Growth Plan Reflections from this teacher were shared via this Youtube video.  Be sure to watch the entire video – he shares his enthusiasm for learning through some great dance moves at the end!

~ Matthew Stelmaschuk, Learning Community 7 Teacher

Pictochat!

LCPictochat.WMV
Watch on Posterous

Inclusive Technology in the Classroom

<!–[endif]–>

Image002

 

 

 

 

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:

 

Image004

 

 

 

* 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.

Tracy Lachman

 

 

 

Skip to toolbar