The learning leader sessions have been interesting and always present tech savvy ways to engage students. It can be tough to get technology in the hands of all the students and get them on board to use it for specific learning purposes but they are more willing to try using anything that can be charged rather than a pen or pencil.
Some of the Apps that kids really connect with are the ones that work with their creativity. My students love videos and images and like to work with iMovie, Haiku Deck, and Show Me. At first, I was skeptical about using Google Drive and Google Docs as I didn’t see why they were necessary but I have since seen the benefits to the students and staff alike.
I guess you could consider my change of heart toward Google to be a bit of an a ha moment. My students were frustrated and unable to finish their essays on time and to my surprise many of them did not know how to attach a word document when emailing their work to themselves. It was Google Docs to the rescue! I felt tech savvy for one small moment when showing my students how to create a Google doc and talked to them about the benefits of it. I am starting to feel more confident with technology but still have a long way to go!
Through informal sessions I was able to talk with several teachers about the benefits of using Apps in teaching. We worked our way through the Google Drive, and focused on how to drag and drop videos and photos into the Google Drive folders for students to use. We were also able to use Dropbox to work with photos and play with the possibilities. Finally, we used Show Me to see if we could integrate the Smartboard like capabilities into core subject lessons. Students love working with images and being able to draw pictures and record using the Show Me App. We are planning to integrate more and more technology into our lessons in the hope that we can engage student learning and diversify assessments.
What have been your favourite apps that you have used during this project and why?
Most of the apps that I have come to enjoy are more of the open ended production apps. Rather than just being consumers of knowledge, children are able to be producers of their own. iMovie is a great tool for students to use when retelling a story. Not only does using the iMovie app on the iPad create multi-modal connections for literacy, it also allows teachers to transform more traditional language arts activities or skills into an engaging authentic learning experience. Although google drive is not an app I have used yet with my grade one students, it has become a central to my practice as it allows me to work in collaboration with others and access my files from any device with internet access.
Have you had any “A-ha” moments in connecting with others through social media?
With regards to my experiences connecting with social media, I can definitely appreciate the value of being a contributor to the wealth of knowledge rather than just a consumer. Twitter has opened up access to educators around the world and also allows me to seek information in a more connected and personal way by connecting with real people for answers to my questions. While the short and sweet notion of Twitter lets you conveniently skim through tweets that cross your feed, links and items shared by others are usually very easy to access. What a great way to stay current on all of the hot button topics in the world of education, network, connect, collaborate and share with other teachers and professionals.
Discuss some of the sessions that you have delivered to your staff. What has been the impact in school?
A school wide session I delivered during a PD day focused on the impact of globalization and contemporary literacy. Not only has globalization contributed to rapid advancements in our society, technology, and the mass distribution of information, it has also significantly altered the way children learn. To facilitate 21st century literacy we must:
• Understand how children’s brains differ from any humans before
• Redefine traditional definitions of literacy to make room for multiple modes
• Choose to integrate technology in more open ended ways
• Support home literacies students are already fluent in and empower them to use their voice to engage and change society
This session opened conversations amongst teachers about where we see ourselves on the continuum of closed ended gamified literacy apps, where students are consumers of knowledge, to more open-ended transforming literacy practices when integrating technology, where students are producers and developing a voice? We also discussed how we can transform our practices to incorporate more open-ended practices.
The second session I facilitated was a small focus group that collaborated to create and utilize classroom blogs as a vehicle for making learning visible and for supporting early literacy development. Throughout the year we have maintained, revised and added to our blogs. Many students and families have cited several positive experiences but also agreed that the classroom blog did support student learning.
Although I haven’t enjoyed all of the apps that I have downloaded, some of my favourites are imotion for creating clay animation projects, and SolarSystem and Periodic Table for references. My students each have their own favorite game apps for when they receive the ‘golden’ free time. The app that I am interested in ‘getting to know better’ is ShowMe. I am planning on adding a new section into my unit and lesson planning for apps and blog ideas.
This year I haven’t felt any ‘a-ha’ moments, but rather ‘I’m totally stealing that idea’ moments. I love hearing from other teachers how they’ve applied technology into a lesson in their classroom, and feel proud when I apply it into my own instruction. I’m always reminding myself to keep an open mind, and that students can also share those ideas and feel the same pride when a teacher applies their own app discovery or technology idea.
What have been your favorite apps that you have used during this project and why?
One of the strongest assets the iPad has is it diverse functionality due to the shear number of apps that are available. We have all heard the “There’s an app for that” ad campaign apple used a while ago. Well, that ad campaign applies to educational apps as well. There are apps that can help teach students almost every single curricular outcome imaginable. This is great but the apps I really love all do the same thing for me in the classroom. The best apps, in my mind, are apps that allow students to create and show their learning in a way that matches their personal needs and caters to their strengths. Apps like Dragon Dictation, iMovie, Inspiration, Google Drive, Show Me, and Skitch all give students a way to express themselves and their learning in a way that works for them. Because these apps make the learning visible in multiple formats students can be extremely creative and can work around learning disabilities to show an understanding that wouldn’t be possible if they were being assessed using essays, multiple choice exams, or other traditional assessment styles . Bottom line is that the apps I love for my students allow them to create pieces that are meaningful to them which makes the students love these apps as much as I do!
Have you had any “A-ha” moments in connecting with others through social media?
One of the biggest “a-ha” moments I have had this year is the amount of bright minds in the teaching world I have access to as a result of Twitter, Youtube, Zite, Pinterest, Blogs, and Tedtalks is unbelievable. Following these people online means I have access to the knowledge of the best minds in education across the globe. Not only do I have access to their ideas but to the conversations they have with others on Twitter and in the blog comments. These conversations allow me to consider multiple perspectives on an idea, and to deliberate on the positives and negatives of an idea for my own use. They also grant me to access advice on challenges I am facing in my own classroom. Online PLCs allow me to find and gain access to resources I never knew existed. Sometimes the interactions I engage in online go beyond learning to provide motivation or humour after a tough day in the classroom. Bottom line is that the internet has provided me with so much fuel for my passion in learning and educating that I now consider it a very powerful learning tool. In fact, this has been so powerful to me this that it is a major part of my year end professional growth plan.
Discuss some of the sessions that you have delivered to your staff. What has been the impact in school?
To be honest with the readers of this blog I have been hesitant in conducting technology learning sessions to my staff. I have never considered myself to be a “techie” I have always considered myself to have a rather average skillset when it came to technology. This made it rather difficult to put myself in front of a room to direct a session as a “learning leader”. However, this changed for me during a session on technology I attended with a number of staff from our building. We attended a session on Google Docs and during the session the teachers from our building had some time to discuss some of the concerns they were having. It was through this discussion I slowly realized that I could answer most of the questions they were asking. Even if I could not answer them I realized I knew people that could. This gave me a lot more confidence in running sessions. I quickly returned to my school to schedule 2 sessions in the first week of June. The response was very enthusiastic. It turns out people in my building are craving this type of knowledge. In fact I feel like this can be a regular part of contributing to the learning that will happen in our building.
This year’s learning leader project was beneficial for a few reasons. First of all, it reaffirmed that what we are doing at MCHS is in the right direction. Since our first wave of teachers did the learning leader project last year, we have already been exposed to a lot of the new apps that we learned at the sessions. We are fortunate at our school to have many teachers who provided sessions at each staff meeting on what they learned. Secondly, it reinforced what I had already learned and forced me to dig deeper into each app. This allowed me to become much more comfortable with the apps so I would use them outside of school too.
Personally the favorite apps I used are Socrative, Google Docs and Google Drive. Socrative is a great tool that allows the students to put their Smartphones to use in the classroom. Kids enjoy using their phones as opposed to pen and paper. In terms of Google apps, I use them all the time because they are so good for group/collaborative projects for kids. In the past, I would have to limit who could be on the document at any time or have the kids copy and paste their work into one document as only one person could use it at a time. Those days are thankfully over. As for Google Drive, I love it. No longer can a student say they didn’t get an assignment or they forgot it was their day to present something. I have all may class work, calendars, assignments, course outlines, etc on Google Drive. They can access it at anytime and from anywhere. Parents can also be added. This alleviates the old excuses and blame that teachers get when a kid has not been doing his work.
In terms of A-ha moments, I have them all the time. I find myself finding news ways to use my iPad and the apps we learned all the time. I am often sitting at home when one hits. I will discover a new way to use on the apps for my classes. This in itself is an A-ha moment.
As for sessions, I held in my school. I held one formal session after school. It attracted about 5 teachers. At the session, I demo’d how to use Socrative to enhance Smartphone usage in the classroom. Teachers were exposed to how they could apply multiple choice and True/False questioning as a review mechanism for their class. I also demo’d how they could use the Exit evaluations and quizzes for formative and summative assessments. Last of all, I helped them get setup on Socrative so they could create their own quizzes and exit evaluations.
In the second session, I help a couple of teachers get setup and use Socrative. They were unable to come on the previous day so I did it again for them.
The impact of the sessions on the school is tough to evaluate. I know the teachers who attended are integrating Smartphones into their assessments now. I am sure word of mouth will carry it further too. As a whole, our school has taken what has been delivered from all of Learning Leaders over the past few years and integrated them into their lessons. The iPad cart gets used regularly so that is a great sign.
Overall, I am very happy with the Learning Leader program and how it continues to evolve. Teachers are sharing what they are discovering with one another.
The 2012-2013 learning leaders course has been a wonderful area of professional development. The integration of new apps and technologies has provided an interesting dynamic to my early teaching career. In response to the final learning leaders session I have discovered the following information over the course of the school year:
As a continue to develop my niche as a school teacher, I have found that technology can be very useful for classroom instruction and organization. In particular, Google drive has been extremely useful and practical to teach my students. I am constantly learning all the wonderful uses Google drive can be for a school teacher. At first I struggled to keep everything organized because it was a constant swarm of shared docs. However, I learned that it would be a lot easier if the child ‘shared’ their main folder with their name (Ex. John D) and this way everything they created in their named folder, would automatically be ‘shared’ into the folder that I already have.Furthermore, I just recently learned about the importance of naming each document appropriately. Naming each document is very important because it makes it a lot easier to search for a child’s work. If everyone in the class uses the same title structure, it is very easy to look through the database and find a particular assignment about a particular topic. The way that I will begin to title my documents are by writing the title of the assignment followed by first name, and last initial(ex. Provincial government – John D). I am finding that the more time I spend using Google drive, the more comfortable I become teaching the app to the students. I am excited to dig further into this application for students and my sake.
Moreover, social media was another area of exploration for the Learning Leaders course. I have already been exposed to the value of social media in education by George Couros. I have found that Twitter can be very valuable for networking and gaining help from others. At first, I will admit, I did more “lurking” then contributing to the educational twitter world. I still find myself looking through Twitter but I am finding it is just as easy to click the ‘share’ button and have others read, think and learn about a helpful or critical thinking article, blog, lesson, etc. As I continue on in the educational world, it is exciting to think about the possibilities with networking.
Building Capacity – “Do or do not there is no try” Yoda
Lastly, the session and discussions that I have been taking part with my colleagues in school have been very interesting. Our school has got a good start on blogging with the upper middle years school. Also, grades 5-9 have made great use of Google drive. Seba Beach School has a small staff, and it is interesting because in starting out a school wide initiative like classroom blogging or Google accounts, we have developed great foundation for next school year. As we move forward it is imperative that we as teachers model good us of classroom blog and Google drive.
For more discussion find me on twitter @Ferzlig
Attention span is defined as the “the amount of time that a person can concentrate on a task without becoming distracted.” Many studies have shown that people will only be able to maintain concentration for no longer that 8 seconds. This is known as focused attention.”Focused attention is a short term response to stimuli that attracts attention.” To simply explain this definition, think about all the different stimuli that people experience every day, every hour, every minute. It can be overwhelming and impossible to think about all the little details/ stimuli that people experience with their senses throughout the day. Thankfully, the human brain is able to sustain knowledge and information that we receive by processing it into short or long-term memory. A lot of research has shown that adult’s attention span is no more than 20 minutes on average, while infants at the age of 2 have an attention span of 5 minutes. Why is this information so important to educators around the world? As we continue to advance in the technological 21st century; if educators can not hook a child or teen into learning, than attention will be lost!
A recent blog post has suggested the importance of making sure students are engaged with their work. No matter the topic, if the students were not invested in their project, they were not invested in their learning. Simply put, they didn’t care about it. Apathy can be a daily struggle for many teachers. Investments for students are short term.(sometimes only 8 seconds) Therefore, this knowledge is a powerful tool for teachers to more effectively engage their students? I was inspired to write about this topic because my personal experience of losing interest in my learning when I didn’t understand or as a youth into the lesson. I truly believe using this knowledge is crucial to ensure students are engaged in their learning. To read more about engaging students in the classroom, read the following article that inspired me to respond to this topic.
The thing that I loved most about the Learning Leader project was the ability to explore new and exciting apps that can engage the students in the classroom, and also get the creativity going into developing new lessons.
My favorite app that we worked with was Haiku Deck. I love the ability to change the pictures and add little words that give a basic idea of what the presentation is going to be dealing with, without flooding the page with words. I had a few of my students use this app in creating a project based on culture, and it turned out great. I especially was proud of the way they were able to dictate their ideas without relying on words on the screen. Another one of my favoirte apps was Zite. I really like how you could personalize it to fit your personality in a way. There were many different options of articles to read and share and I found a lot of interesting ones on there. I tried to apply a few of them to my practice from the education session which was really why I joined the learning leader, for things to implement into the classroom one way or another.
As for connecting through social media and A-Ha moments, I have to say my first was before the Learning leader project started when, again, I was very skeptical of Twitter. I gave it a shot and one day when I was looking for something that I could not find anywhere I put it out to the “twittersphere”, I hope I am using that correctly. Within seconds I was given a few responses and they guided me to exactly what I was looking for. My biggest problem is that I am still more of a lerker as opposed to giving lots of ideas as well. That is my goal as I move forward with the technology is to give as much as I take from people on Twitter.
The first session that I made available to staff to attend was an information session on Google Drive. I was skeptical at first when I learned about Google Drive because I didn’t really see the need for it. I thought that we have Word, Exel, etc so why use it. Then I started using it and began to love how easy it was. My grade partner and I collaborate a lot with different projects, rubrics, assessments, and general resources and using Google Drive has made it that much easier. The session began with me showing the attendees how to create different folders and documents within those folders, one of the biggest fears that I found coming from people was that they didn’t understand how easily formatted everything was. After seeing me create a document and it saving automatically, they were hooked. I then showed them how to share documents with other people so that they can either make changes, comments, or just view it. Something that I am sure can be utilized greatly in our classrooms. Finally I showed them some different ways that I have been using Google docs in my practice. I showed them that I have scanned a lot of my files that were originally word documents back into Google drive, where I can make changes to them easily and have them readily available to send in to be printed. I showed them that I have almost all of my year, unit, and daily lesson plans into separate folders which makes sub plans incredibly easy, I just find what lesson I am on, and print them out for the sub, I have also on occasion shared them with the sub so that they know what they are teaching the day before. Finally, I showed them that I have done a lot of my report cards on the Google Drive so that I can access them with ease at home and make changes. I don’t need to worry about Students Achieve not working. The second session that Kendra and I did together was a presentation to our entire staff on the app Snap Chat. This app was the focus of some controversy on our trip to the Vancouver Sun Run so we thought there was no better reason to report on the potential harmfulness it carries. In this session we created a Prezi that was shown to the staff and we talked about the potential dangers, the way it works, privacy settings, and finally what we can do as teachers to help stop the use of it in inappropriate ways.
When I first signed up for the Learning Leader project I knew that it would be a good way for me to continue to learn about technology and to increase my ability to use it productively in the classroom. I have always understood the importance of integrating technology in the classroom, especially in today’s digital world. However, as a grade two teacher, I had been finding it difficult to use technology beyond the SMARTBoard, net books, and laptops etc. My main concern was my students’ ability to independently use technology, and to be quite honest, I wasn’t sure how I would be able to miraculously grow 20 hands to help them all at once. In saying this though, Learning Leader has introduced me to apps that are engaging, and allow my students the opportunity to use technology beyond the laptops in their everyday work. I am happy to say I have seen a shift in the amount and use of technology in my classroom from September until now.
One of my favourite apps is Haiku Deck. Haiku Deck is a simple, and effective method for my students to present information and share their knowledge. I particularly like Haiku Deck because it is very easy to follow for my grade twos, which means they are able to independently work on the iPad when they are using Haiku Deck. In the classroom students have used Haiku Deck for anything from sharing what they want for Christmas from their parents, to making a presentation on information that will be researched on an insect of their choice.
Another app that I have found useful in using in my classroom is the “Show Me” app. This app allows students to demonstrate their understanding of a topic on an iPad. “Show Me” has been very helpful for students’ to demonstrate their understanding of math concepts. I regularly have students use the “Show Me” app to solve a problem in math. Students are able to write down the problem and show how they solve it, as well as talk and record their thoughts at the same time.
Both the “Haiku Deck” and the “Show Me” app have been very useful for my students and easy to integrate in my classroom. An app that I have not used in the classroom, but have found useful for my personal use as well as professional growth has been “Zite”. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading the articles on Zite. This app has allowed me to keep up to date on the latest educational articles for professional growth as a teacher. I have also been using Google Drive. Google Drive has been extremely beneficial and useful for me as I am able to share ideas with others, as well as access my files from any computer. I no longer have to worry about emailing myself a file at the end of the day, or putting a file onto a USB drive so I can access it from home.
Coming into Learning Leader I knew that Twitter would be a big part of the process. Over the past year I have begun to use Twitter more and am slowly becoming more comfortable with using it for connecting with others through social media. I am slowly trying to come out of the “lurker” phase and am beginning to share articles and thoughts on Twitter more regularly, however, this is still an area of growth for me. I often find myself looking on Twitter for ideas and articles related to education, however, I am still learning and becoming more comfortable with sharing ideas and commenting on others’ ideas.
I have given two sessions with my colleague to our staff. The first session was on Google Drive. Andrew and I gave this session after school. Overall, Google Drive was very well received by the staff. Everyone likes the idea of being able to share documents with colleagues and were able to give many different examples in how they could do this. However, they were also intrigued at the idea of being able to have students share documents and vice versa. The main glitch we were running into however, was when we had staff try to log into their Google account provided by PSD they could not access it. At the end of the session everyone said they were interested in pursuing Google Drive and Google Docs as a staff and possibly using it on a regular basis in school. The second session we gave was on Snap Chat. Snap Chat is an app that is widely used by teens to send photos on an iPhone or Android device. Snap Chat allows users to take a photo, draw or write on it, and share it with another user, however, the catch is that the photo is dissolved in a matter of seconds once it has been received by the recipient. In saying this though, the photos sent on Snap Chat can be captured by the recipient via a screen shot…so they are really never deleted. The staff was quite surprised to hear about this app and all the myths associated with it. We had a lengthy discussion about our role as educators and how we can help to keep our students safe with the modern technology and ever changing apps. Overall, both sessions that were presented to staff were well received by the staff.
Learning Leader has been a great learning process for me. I have become more comfortable with integrating technology into my classroom in a variety of ways as well as using technology for my own professional growth.