Final Reflections

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.

@nmarcinkevics

Contemporary ICT Practices: Conforming or Transforming?

           The purpose of Lynch and Redpath (2012) discussion was to reveal how touch screen devices, specifically iPads, are being integrated into early years classrooms to support literacy. The findings of this qualitative study provides insight into students’ attitudes towards and proficiency with the devices, the practices of the teacher involved in the study and the teacher’s vision and philosophy with regards to technology integration (Lynch & Redpath, 2012, p. 7). Through observations and interviews, it is revealed that the iPads were initially used in a closed ended manner where gamified literacy and numeracy apps were accessed to support the acquisition of traditional print-based literacy skills (Lynch & Redpath, 2012, p. 12). Moving towards more of a reforming approach, the teacher in the study also used the iPads in a multimodal manner to move her traditional listening center towards a more interactive experience where students could turn the pages and follow along with the animations (Lynch & Redpath, 2012, p. 12). During interviews, the teacher in the study revealed her vision was to support her students in becoming producers of their own knowledge rather than just consumers (Lynch & Redpath, 2012, p. 15). Having students make their own choices about which medium to use for learning activities, such as drawing a picture, using the iPad to draw or taking a screenshot with the iPad, was also a priority (Lynch & Redpath, 2012, p. 15). “Instead of their learning being contained in a content-specific app, which presents them with opportunities to practice staged print-based skills, the students move fluidly between apps and their self-created digital content to create a multimodal text that is them share with their community…” (Lynch & Redpath, 2012, p. 20). The main source of tension experienced by teachers is the priority of policy, accountability and assessment over innovation. “ Historically, it has been those technologies that are a good fit with existing practices that are most easily implemented into classrooms, while those that afford different types of roles and relations are adapted to institutionalized ways of doing teaching and learning” (Lynch & Redpath, 2012, p. 23).

Personal Reflections:

            Throughout Lynch and Redpath’s discussion, I made several connections to my teaching practices and philosophy as well as the disconnect between the two. I often feel as though my ICT practices get stuck in more closed ended activities or games. This article helped me to place my practices on a continuum from conforming to transforming. The discussion of how closed ended apps reinforce and support traditional skill based literacy learning helped me to understand where I need to move my practices, and some practical applications, to be more transforming. I appreciate the tensions the teacher in the study was struggling with as to where her practices are and what her vision is. I too find this a struggle in my classroom and often feel accountability, assessment and policies detracts from the potential of living multimodality. The mastery of print-based skills is still very much privileged in our education system and far too often, technology tools are being reduced to interactive versions of a worksheets or books.

References:

Lynch, J. & Redpath, T. (2012). ‘Smart’ technologies in early years literacy education: A meta-narrative of paradigmatic tensions in iPad use in an Australian preparatory classroom. Journal of early childhood literacy, 1(0), 1-28. Doi: 10.1177/1468798412453150

@nmarcinkevics

Session One Reflections

To meet the learning needs of students and to engage 21st century learners, change is essential. While the Seth Godin video, “Stop Stealing Dreams,“ highlights the need for transformation in student learning, it also encouraged me to reflect on my own learning practices. Transformative thinking cannot be limited to our pedagogy but must also be inclusive of our learning practices. The opportunity to explore and employ tools such as twitter, blogs and zite can promote transformation and open up opportunities with our own learning. As one of the most effective forms of professional development is a professional learning community, this cohort offers a collaborative opportunity to gain multiple perspectives and contemporary technology skills. I look forward to the reflective process encouraged by the Learning Leaders Project and to applying many of my new skills in my practice. Seth Godin’s discussion on how the difficulty of creativity is not inventing new things but rather applying your learning in your context resonated with me. The following quote by Steve Job reaffirms this idea:

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something”

Nicole Marcinkevics

@nmarcinkevics