Learning Leader Final Reflection

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.

Escaping the Cult of “Busy”

A few months ago, we had a presentation at one of our “early years” staff meetings from our representative for Healthy Schools.  She gave us pamphlets and options for modules and lessons that we could use to teach our kids about being healthy, both emotionally and physically. However, she also said to the staff that the best way to destroy a relationship, or fail to create a relationship with anyone (a student or colleague) was to respond with something along the lines of  “I’m busy right now, can we talk later” when they try to talk to you about something. As I sat with my colleagues at the table in the library we talked about the number of times we have said that. Unfortunately, I have to admit that I have used some sort of saying such as “One second, I’m busy” numerous times both in my personal and my work life. After this presentation, I promised myself that I would make a more conscious effort to remove that from my vocabulary as it truly makes sense that it would destroy a relationship. When I think to how I feel if someone says that to me, the way it comes across is that the person is not interested in hearing what I have to say and I absolutely do not want my students to think that I am not interested in what they have to say.

So when I came across the article “How to Escape the Cult of Busy” (http://lifehacker.com/5994072/how-to-escape-the-cult-of-busy) I couldn’t think of a better article to tweet and reflect on. The part of this article that really stood out for me is the section where the author talks about how saying “I’m busy”, often means something different, essentially you are “engaging in doublespeak”. For me, the other meanings for being busy that would seem to make the most sense when engaging with adults in my personal or work life, not students, are “I’m giving an excuse” because I don’t want to do something, or “I’m afraid” because I am afraid of where the conversation could lead or I am afraid of missing out on other things. My challenge to myself after that staff meeting where I began to make a change was to no longer use the language “I’m busy” if I were doing a million things and a student or someone else wanted to tell me something. I have always had the ability to develop relationships with my students, but this has helped to deepen the relationship. I find myself listening more to my students’ stories and engaging in more meaningful conversation with them about their stories. It is heart warming to see how excited they get when they talk about their dad going to China, or taking their dog for a walk, or even the ice chunk they found outside on their way in from the bus.  Although I always engage in conversations with my students, actually taking the time in the day to step back from my “work” and just take in what they’re saying helps form a whole new relationship.

I can’t remember the last time I used the term, or some form of, “I’m busy”. I encourage everyone else to try to do the same and see the difference it makes when talking to someone and letting go of your “work” or what you think is important at that moment.

Learning Leader Session 2

I have basically become obsessed with Haiku Deck. It is such a creative way to create presentations, and would be so easy for my grade two students to use!

I created the presentation above as a reflection to watching Dean Shareski’s video at the session this evening. In watching the video there were a number of ideas that stuck out with me, the most important being sharing.  I am a firm believer in sharing resources and am always willing to share my resources, assignments, and ideas with colleagues at school. However, after thinking about the video I am excited to start sharing  my ideas with others online through blogging…and yes, you guessed it…Twitter! Like George said tonight, you can’t just take pennies from the “take a penny leave a penny” dishes at stores, you need to give as well. So, how can one expect to just take resources from online without sharing their own online?  I am excited to start expanding my sharing outside of the school! 🙂



Learning Leader

When I first read the email describing the learning leader project I knew it was something I wanted to do. I have always believed in technology as a learning tool but have never really known how I could incorporate the iPad as a learning tool as well.  In saying this, I will be the first to admit that I have never taken it upon myself to search for ways in which an iPad can be used other than a personal device. However, over the past month I have found that not only have I been using the apps we were asked to download, but I have also been looking for more that would be beneficial to both my students as well as myself…I am going to attribute this to having my interest peaked at the first session back in October! I guess to summarize, I could simply say that I am really looking forward to using my iPad for more than just surfing the Internet and can already see all the possibilities with it!

I knew coming into this that Twitter was going to be a big part of the experience. I signed up for Twitter last year with the intention of using it all the time, but I quickly turned into a “lurker” and then essentially stopped doing anything with it. In reflecting about this, I think the reason for this is because overall I am a very private person and I wasn’t sure how I felt about having my thoughts and questions all over the Internet. I know that Twitter is a great tool for connecting, sharing resources and so much more as I have seen the power of it through people I know. Here is where I need help (and am willing to admit it)…my goal is to open up and start using Twitter on a regular basis, but I am going to need to continually be pushed to do so until I begin to be more comfortable with the whole idea of it! So, please push me to use it…I know I will thank whoever does later!