Learning Leader Reflection 2013

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



Physical Education vs. Physical Activity

Having done my degree in Physical Education and having the opportunity to teach Phys Ed in a few difference schools already, I think that it is really important for people (students, parents, and other educators) to understand this difference between Physical Education and Physical Activity.

Many people think that ‘gym class’ is a chance for kids to run around and burn off their energy; however it is much more than that! Physical activity (moving our bodies and increasing our heart rates) is only one element -yes, an important one- to an effective PE class. It is also important that our students learn about why it is necessary to be active (the benefits and consequences) and feel and understand why their bodies feel certain ways after participating in a given activity and recognizing those changes, etc. Kids should also be able to be exposed to a variety of activities to allow them to find ways of being active that work for them in hopes that they are inspired to live active lifestyles into the future.

I believe that physical education classes are one of the most important classes students participate in! I could go on and on about my thoughts on this topic, but it is important that others are aware of this difference as well. As the article suggests, awareness will help us to stop using these phrases interchangeably, and help to improve and develop our Physical Education classes.

Link: www.aahperd.org/naspe/publications/teachingTools/PAvsPE.CFM

Learning Leader Reflection

Throughout the learning leader session’s I have come across many app’s that I have been able to explore and implement in the classroom and personal use. By far the the app I use the most is Zite. I enjoy the large variety of subject article/blogs that are offered through this site and the ability of the reader to customize subject categories so that you do not have to flip through articles trying to find what your looking for.

My A-ha moment recently is in discovering that the amount of people supporting technology in the classroom is growing and I believe starting to overwhelm those who have been opposed to it. In the past the voice of saying “I’m not doing this (technology)” is either decreasing or are not being as vocal. I believe teachers are starting to see the advantages of using technology and social media as people such as those that are in the learning leader session’s continue inform and work with peers on how to use technology and what to use. I look forward to this trend continuing and everyone growing together.

The first session that Amanda and I delivered was showing the app Haiku Deck. We had created our own Haiku Deck to show the advantages of using the program and then gave every staff member an ipad to design their own short presentation. It was well received by staff and many are planning on using it in their classrooms with their students. The teachers liked how easy and simplistic the app is and really liked the availability of images that are free to use. Teachers also liked the fact that students do not have to register in order to use the app.

The second session was focused on using twitter as a collaboration tool for our staff. I set up a hashtag #spc70 that our staff can now use to collaborate with each other and put it into immediate action by showing the video “I will not let exams determine my fate” and had them tweet their thoughts and opinions. This turned out well in ways that I did not anticipate.

1) staff with twitter accounts already that regularly used them started tweeting even before the video started.

2) staff with twitter accounts already but are regular users of twitter came prepared (new their passwords) and were eager to start tweeting.

3) staff without twitter accounts were paired up with staff that had accounts and brainstormed with their peers on what to write , and a few even set up accounts right then and there with help from their peer that was paired up with them.

I then learned (quite easily) how to use Storify to collect all the tweets written by the staff and published them for everyone to easily see what was written. Below is a link to the Storify.


Learning Leader Reflection

I have explored many apps during my learning leader year.  One of my favourites is haiku deck.  I love this one due to the simplistic nature of it.  It makes it easy for my grade 2s and 3s to use with minimal assistance.  It is a powerful tool for them to reflect on their learning as well as to teach others a topic.  I have also enjoyed zite.  There have been some excellent articles to read on zite to do with education and technology.  Through the use of zite, I have felt more comfortable with tweeting out articles which has helped me to be less of a lurker.

An aha moment for me was when I was using evernote.  This helped when I went to visit another school.  It helped me to take pictures as well as to add notes.  I was able to keep track of everything that I saw while on this visit.  It makes so much sense and it was so easy to do.  I also enjoyed the simple fact of google drive on the ipad.  It makes making and sharing documents so much easier and it’s right at your fingertips.

Bob and I did a presentation on our PD Day on May 10.  We presented haiku deck to the staff and it went really well.  The staff were engaged as they were able to make their own by creating 3 slides and could really see the benefit of using this app in the classroom.  We also presented the value of twitter.  We watched a video and had each person send a tweet on what they thought of our video to our new SPC hashtag (#spc70) which is newly created by Bob.  Even staff that are tech savy and enjoy twitter enjoyed this.  It went very well and it was great to show staff who were not familiar with this technology how it can be valued and how it does not take a great deal of time to do so.  Bob showed me how to use storify (another aha moment, would be great for presentations) and here is the storify of what our staff did while watching the video.

I will continue to explore the twitter world and hope to learn even more.





Learning Leader Project in Review

When I first started the sessions in the Learning Leader Project, I was worried it was going to be all about Tweeting and blogging. So yes, maybe I did have some preconceived notion of what to expect. Well, I am very pleased to  say that it was not just what I expected. It DID help me to appreciate and understand tweets and to feel more comfortable tweeting about it. It DID show me that I do not have to read every tweet and that I can use it when I need to and that a wealth of knowledge, support and resources are only a tweet away.Thanks to Hoot Suite, I no longer feel overwhelmed by my tweets and now actually enjoy sending out a tweet or two about something awesome.

That is only the beginning of what I have come away with after the Learning Leader Project. By the end of the sessions I have created my own personal magazine with ZITE, (only the sections I am interested in and no advertisements) found easy and engaging ways to support and reflect on my students learning(Evernote and Google Drive) AND found ways for my students to use the iPad in the classroom to share their learning and engagement (iMotion and Haiku Deck).

I have used what I have learned to education staff, my own children and created better and more innovative ways to teach. With all of this, I think the most important thing I have learned through these sessions is to look for an opportunity, come to the table, learn and share. We are in this together!


Learning Leader Final Project

I have enjoyed the learning leader project, learning many new apps that has benefited my teaching and learning of my students.  The first app I have found to be a great benefit for myself and students is Dropbox.  Dropbox is an app that allows you to store pictures, video and files on the cloud enabling you to obtain your files with any device you have Dropbox on.  Many students use it instead of using the school server to save their work which they can only access at school.  Students can place their projects and notes on Dropbox at school and work on them from home.  They can create notebooks to save their studies on and share their notes and projects with others.  The second app I really enjoyed is Google Drive.  Google drive is another web based app that allows you to work on Google docs efficiently with your ipad.  Google has many free programs that emulate software on regular PC’s such as word, excel, etc.  These programs can be used by any technology that you can access google chrome on.

Although I have seen the benefit of connecting with others through social media, Facebook and twitter, I have found that it take a lot of extra time.  For many people who spend much of their time on social media it might not be much of an issue.  I will still use social media in times when I feel it  may be useful in a situation but I can not currently see myself prioritizing Twitter or Facebook, however I do see the value in blogs with sharing information and learning as well as the positive influence commenting on learning through blogs with in the classroom setting.

I have shared learning and information with staff and students during PD days, after school meeting and classroom lessons.  Although these sessions have had a positive impact on students and staff the impact is stifled with the lack of technology.  The information giving in the sessions is found to be useful and exciting by others learning the new programs on the Ipad, or PC and teachers want to use their new knowledge.  It is not for lack of trying that teachers are not using their new knowledge, myself included, it is the lack of computers, Ipads, and technology that is hindering the progress of using the new knowledge in student learning.  I will continue to share and help others use technology in meaningful ways regardless of how much technology we have however there is so much potential waiting to be discovered in all of our classroom.

I have enjoyed learning leader and have found many programs to be very useful in my lessons and student learning.  I look forward to learning more.


Learning Leader Session 4 (April 24 or April 25)

As the session begins, please sign in using this form.


1.  Please take a look at the “Evernote” app.  This is a great app to be used for assessment, voice notes, and can be easily shared.

Group Discussions

1.  What have been your favourite apps that you have used during this project and why?

2.  Have you had any “A-ha” moments in connecting with others through social media?

3.  Discuss some of the sessions that you have delivered to your staff.  What has been the impact in school?

Final Video

This is an extremely powerful video on education and the way our world has changed.  Please share any of your thoughts to the #psd70 Twitter hashtag.

By May 10, you will need to finish your final assignment for this project.  Please go through the requirements located on this page.

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.


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


If they don’t think they can….they won’t

I was recently looking back at some articles that I had favorited on Twitter. I reread this one,  http://www.edutopia.org/blog/believing-in-students-richard-curwin and it was instantly clear to me why I had favorited it. I am passionate about teaching, but more than that I am passionate about teaching kids.
In my classroom, all students are respected for who they are, with the understanding and commitment from me that they will all need me in different ways. Too often, I have had the unfortunate pleasure of listening to people say things like, “What is wrong with kids these day?” “Why are kids so entitled?” “This is how I grew up and I turned out fine.” “We tried this 20 years ago…I am done jumping on the bandwagon.” I get infuriated inside when I hear it, and often have to bite my tongue almost right off so that my response is professional and respectful…although I don’t always believe the comments are respectful about the children.
All too often we forget that at one time we were children too…children with opinions, ideas, dreams and hopes. They need to be taught that their opinions and beliefs matter, they need to feel that we are proud of them and they need to feel that they can make a difference. If a child struggles with curriculum, does it mean they are failures? Not in my books. When I look back at my childhood, and what it was about it that helped me get to where I am today in life, I can 100% say it wasn’t the curriculum that I learned. It was the people who told me they were proud of me, the people who took the time to get to know me, and the skills I learned because I felt safe learning them.
I know our job is not easy, but I do believe we would all have a much more enjoyable time doing the hard work we do if we put everything into perspective. We are teaching kids first and the curriculum second. You can have the best lesson plans in the world, if you can’t relate to the kids, if you don’t have their trust, and if they don’t feel safe taking risks, you won’t see the “results” that you think you should get. Children make mistakes, that is how they learn. Their mistakes should not be a life sentence.