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 Final Project

I was excited to take part in the learning leader sessions ] to listen to the ideas and the suggestions of other leaders and teachers within the division about their ideas on technology integration.
Through these sessions, I have learned about a number of apps.   Of all these apps, both myself and my students have really have enjoyed ‘Haiku Deck.’ I used this app when doing novel studies and had students use it to describe the theme of a novel, or describe the qualities of a specific character. By carefully selecting a word and matching it with an appropriate image- the students (even the non-readers) were able to demonstrate their understanding in a new way that they found interesting. There are also a number of other apps that I now use on a regular basis such as Google Docs and Dropbox. I use these to share resources and ensure my work is also backed-up.

Before participating in this project, I was not a Twitter-user. I was somewhat slow in catching on, and seeing the potential for how it could be used; however I believe that I am now more capable and have been able to access useful resources. I am still in the learning stage, but as I continue to explore, I have found a number of resources that I have been able to use and implement in my classroom. As well, I have been able to make connections with a number of other educators. It is a simple and easy way to make these connections and greataccess resources.

Our school is very technologically aware and already has “Tech Tuesday” sessions lead by other technology leaders within the school. As I felt that I still had ideas and knowledge to share, I met individually with various teachers to share my learning and ideas and discuss ways hat they may be able to incorporate these, or similar ideas, into their own classes. It has been great to be able to sit down and collaborate and exchange ideas and experiences. I hope that this collaboration continues, and we can work together to think of new and creative ways to integrate not only the iPad, but all technology into our classes.

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.


Show Me

As a teacher I am continually searching and finding new material, lessons and experiments for my students, reading posts and pages, watch video and listen to audio. After all the time spent searching I usually conclude with a really good video. I know I learn much of my new material with videos. It seems that I benefit from watching videos and I know my students benefit and enjoy learning from videos, it seems logical that I would create videos for my students. Instead of taking notes, which does have it place, I think I would be more beneficial to watch a movie of a math problem being solved in live time with audio to review concepts and lessons. Although this seems difficult and time consuming it is actually quiet simple using the ShowMe App. The nicest part of this program is that it can be uploaded to our students Facebook page, and takes the stress out of being sick and missing class. Even better some of the best teachers are students. I think this would be a great way for my students to show their learning and share it with others. I am excited to start using it.

Discovering New Things

So, my excitement at learning the iPad earlier this year has been passed on, not only to my students but to my own boys as well. Through birthday and Christmas money they each now have there own iPad. It has been amazing what they have taught me. Over the Christmas break alone I have learned what amazing math and language arts apps there are to enrich my children and my students learning, as well as how to make a movie about how my basement cleaned itself.  The app that made this miraculous thing happen is iMotion. My boys spent hours learning to plan, organize, create and yes, think critically. All on how to make the basement clean itself. (or at least make a movie where it appears the basement is cleaning itself). The other amazing thing that happened was that for roughly 2 hours my boys didn’t argue, complain or bicker with each other. The were both directors and cinematographers. Amazing!!

How did I bring this into the classroom you ask? In grade 3 we are currently working on Building With a Variety of Materials. We discussed blueprints, and planning a structure etc. The students then went on to create their blueprint, build their structure, and have someone else build their structure according to the blueprint while making an iMotion movie. It was incredible to see how the students could see the structure being built before their very eyes. They were able to see the hesitations their builder was making and reflect on the changes that they had to make more easily watching it in fast time.

Great fun and learning was had by all. I learned that the case for my iPad may need changing. I also will be purchasing a tripod for other lessons like this. My greatest lesson is that the enthusiasm you have for something can only grow once you pass it on!!


Haiku Deck for Dyslexia?

I have to admit, when I was first playing around with Haiku Deck, I found myself thinking, “I am not sure how I am going to make this useful in my classroom,”…even with the examples given.  However, I knew that with some thought and patience, it would come to me.  And it did, I have a student in my class with Dyslexia, he is in grade 3 and struggles with books at beginning grade 1 level.  He tries his best to learn, and is actually very intelligent, the frustration he feels absolutely breaks my heart!  I have been using the Dragon Dictation App and been having some success with it in his writing, but it is still important he learn basic words so that he can improve his reading ability.  I chose to create a Haiku Deck for all of the basic words needed to go on in reading that he is missing.  I searched the word, and chose an appropriate picture to go with the word (careful, many inappropriate pictures came up for some words).  My hope is that he will learn these words in a way that makes sense to him and apply that learning to other reading that he does.  I don’t know what the outcome will be, but I do know what the outcome would be if we didn’t try.  Thanks George, you gave me one more tool for my special little guy!



Final Reflections – My Journey

When I first started this journey, I was somewhat closed minded as to what I would learn. I already had a Twitter account (which I used to stalk follow celebrities and athletes on). I knew what Discovery Education was and I had already shown my class MANY video clips from the website already. An iPad sounded pretty awesome but was really just a bigger version of the iPhone I already had. After much reflection, I realized that I had no idea. I have decided that the easiest way to share my experience in the Learning Leader Project was to start at the very beginning and explain the journey I have gone through this year.

It all started that magical day when my iPad arrived in the courier at school. I felt like a young child on Christmas day, and I think some of my students were as excited as I was. After spending the day charging the iPad and registering for a new iTunes account, I decided to ask the students what my first app should be. “TEMPLE RUN!” they all told me. So I downloaded it. Not exactly the most educational, but it became a topic of conversation every day as certain students would run into the classroom to ask about my latest top score. (2,018,720 if you care to know)

I also downloaded Evernote and Dropbox, but I haven’t really used them at all because I have everything on Google Docs (now of course Google Drive). This brings me to the next undertaking that I took on during this journey. Setting my kids up for Google Apps. After many long hours, my teaching partner and I successfully created accounts for all 500+ students at our school. We began training other teachers in how to use Google Apps in the classroom, and then we began using this tool with our students as well. My only regret with this is that we didn’t start using Google Apps earlier. However, we have worked out many of the kinks we came across, and we are ready to go for next year.

After setting the students up with their Google Accounts, the next logical thing to do was to download the Google App. Makes sense, right? Well doing this just about made me throw my iPad out the window. There were so many issues with it – incompatibility between Google and the iPad, Google errors, the inability to share documents on an iPad, and the list goes on. Luckily many of these challenges have been fixed, but it still frustrates me that you can only create a document or a spreadsheet on the iPad but not a presentation or form. Hopefully those things will come with time.

Other than that, I have used my iPad to connect with educators via Twitter, find resources via Pinterest, read books in iBooks, keep up to date with the news via Zite, use a Times Table app during my Core Support class, allow my ESL student to use Google Translate during assignments, and the list goes on and on and on.

My most recent find (thanks to Marci Laevens) was the Coaches Eye app. I heard her talk about it during a Learning Leader meeting once and didn’t think much of it because I’m not a Phys Ed teacher. I didn’t think it really applied to me. But then I had the idea to bring it to my Golf Club’s practice. I was able to use my iPad to video tape the kids’ swings and I had a student change his swing from this:

to this:

Pretty cool, huh? (If you don’t know what you are looking for, it’s that his club should be parallel to the ground at the top of his backswing). And he would NEVER have been able to understand what I was explaining to him without the visual.

The last and probably most important thing that I learned through this journey is that we need to share EVERYTHING that we do. In the past, I have always thought that my ideas aren’t good enough to put out there online, or I have been too afraid to ask questions on something like Twitter for fear of sounding stupid. Dean Shareski really made this clear to us when he came to present during our last Learning Leader Session. And since being at this session, I have started to connect with and ask more questions of people in my PLN on Twitter. And it feels great to have such a supportive community online. I hope to stay connected with you all in the future!

Final Reflection

How can I fit all that I have learned into one small blog post?  It seems an impossible task.

I have spent the past year learning so many new things.  I will try to use my higher level thinking and rank them from least to most important things that I have learnt over the past year.

5. How to use an ipad and be comfortable using one. Confidence is key.

4.Ipad are not just for games.  They are tools of learning and for learning.  It was great to use them as cameras, video cameras, and tools to strengthen lessons.

3.How to be connected.  There are many ways to talk and share over the internet.  I now have many resources to go to if I need to ask, share or talk with someone about my idea or one I am looking for. Twitter is no longer a word that I roll my eyes to when I hear someone mention it.  It is now a place where I can  quickly jump on, check and connet myself to a world wide web of teacher and educators.

2.Apps – They are so many great apps.  The possibilities are endless.  How creative would you like to be?  Well, apps are great ways to support a lesson and allow the students to it to the next level.  Apps for games, creating, tools, recording, etc, etc.

1. Being open and willing to try new technology.  I have bought in.  Have you?  What is stopping you from getting on board?  This year are made me a better teacher by allowing me to grow in many different forms of technology.  If it wasn’t for the learning leader group, I think I would missed the boat and been stuck in the past.

Ideas that I have done:

  • Pictures to find geometry shapes around the school
  • Recording radio plays on evernote
  • Recording high five routines in gym and watching them later
  • Creating a movie clip on imovie as a teaser for other classes of our upcoming play
  • Taking pictures of PD session presentations that needed to written down
  • Assessaiblity of having an ipad with me to check emails, go online, get connected
  • Use twitter to ask for ideas, help or find answers to my questions
  • Use evernote to easily record ideas and be able to asscess them from all different places
  • Allow my students to explore apps to get them interested
  • Use ipads as mirrors when reading and practice presenting
  • Recording instructions of a big project for students missing that class
  • Recording a conversation, with permission, when I was not able to be there
  • Art ideas through apps
  • Classical music to play in the background when working
  • Music to play off youtube in gym class
  • Record student’s reflections and ideas as a parent center at our heritage lunch so parents can hear their ideas.
  • Take a picture and use it for Art

Dragon my heels

• Created by: Veronica Tawn Hoffman Creative Commons Public Domain License.

final reflection you say?  I can’t do it!

Nothing feels final because so much of what we did and are doing in this project is fluid.  I’ve been on this technology innovation journey officially in some project or course since 1997.  I’ve learned and relearned so much, and that is also true of this project. There is nothing new, yet everything is new.  So I’ve been dragging (dragon?) my heels and putting off blogging about it.  I’ve so much to say, but everything seems to turn into a reflective journal.

I considered writing the top ten things I learned, but that didn’t work. I learned more than ten things, and critical thinking aside, it seemed wrong to rank them. So that morphed into the top ten things I’m thinking about, which looked something like:

  • Which are the best apps to use with my students to enhance their learning?
  • How can I find the time to look at all the apps I’ve discovered?
  • Where will I get ideas for these apps?
  • Is it all about Shareski – sharing, and expressing, and creating?
  • Has my involvement in this project made a difference in someone’s learning? (Has one particular colleague, MA, taken the plunge and tweeted without worrying about being perfect?  You can do it!)
  • How can I express how great it is to be a part of such a vibrant and caring learning community?
  • What is good pedagogy?
  • How can I get my students more access to technology and keep it meaningful?
  • Am I having fun?
  • What else should I be doing with this time?

There are more questions than answers it seems, but all somehow relate with critical literacies and critical thinking, and effectiveness.  Still, I abandoned this because I felt it turning into an essay, so the question became: How can I turn all this into 140 characters or less and Tweet it?  I can’t!

So I decided I would become a lurker and read what others blogged.  What fun!  After all, isn’t one of our most important learnings from the project  that shared learning is better learning?  Perhaps it is really that we can’t know everything, someone has probably said it before and there is wisdom to be gained but just sitting back and listening.  By “listening”,  I learned that I share these thoughts (to cite a few) with other Learning Leaders in the project:

  • Marcie:  One of the best parts of the project was “Time to collaborate and learn from each other.”  Absolutely!  Our conversations in person and online always leaving me thinking, “Wow!  That is so cool!”
  • Jonysko:  It was definitely about getting “Excited about learning again” – and allowing that excitement to be shared.
  • Leanne: Social networking and new apps allow us to “Experience life as a creator” –in ways we never dreamed about before.  After all, the calculator, electric typewriter, and cassette recorder were innovative when I was in high school.  Much has been created since then and we have benefited from creativity and collaboration to inspire creations. I love that I can still dream and sometimes dreams come true, and don’t turn into nightmares.
  • Shoplay:  “Students want to share with their teachers” – and definitely will share their “natural” use of technologies with us if we just step aside at times.  One of our most important roles is to let them lead and show us the way. I learned to turn them on to learning, sometimes the best thing to do is to turn them loose.
  • Kanderson:  “To learn or not to learn, that is the question.”  I am constantly reminded that although my role is constantly evolving, what always remains steadfast is my need to keep asking the question:  How can this improve the learning of my students?  Is this the best technology for this situation?  I’ve certainly explored this throughout the year (and throughout my teaching/mentoring experiences). Might I suggest that “What have I learned?” is also a valid question?
  • Kwilliamson: “There is a lot more to learn” –  ALWAYS!
  • Msmith:  “Are they able to buy in ?” Yes!  Different people buy in at different rates and with different levels of enthusiasm, but they only have to take the risk and one small step can start them on a worthwhile journey.  It is true of students and teachers! I love that I can play a role in this if I just keep opening a door or gazing out a window. (Mixed metaphor, I know)  This was an exciting part of this project.  Soooooo many of my colleagues and I shared experiences and took steps together to try something new.  Soooo many of my students cared enough to share.  I read a lot of tweets that proved there are more and more people buying in.  As learner and mentor, I’ve loved it.
  •  Madenet:  “Old dogs new trick? … does anyone else feel overwhelmed” I’m not sure I like thinking of myself as an old dog, but I can definitely relate to this. Overwhelmed?  At times, but it passes.  You can set aside an hour or two a week and read your GWhizz Reader feed, Zite or Flipboard.  I’ve learned to take babysteps and jog a bit when the opportunity presents itself.  I’ve re-learned that there is a digital divide.  There are generational differences between teachers and how we learn.  “Old dogs” and “young pups” approach technology differently.  We learn differently.  Thanks to all those who have helped me to cross this divide and share the ease with which you infuse technology into your lifestyle, and by extension, into your teaching.  It seems so natural for you, and joining you makes me feel like a young pup.
  • Howard: “Sometimes it is necessary to just hold the nose, close the eyes, and jump off the edge” It is worth the risk.  By risking new learning, we grow.  Isn’t that what it is all about?


Finally, what keeps coming to mind is my previous blog about this being the year of the dragon. http://www.chinesezodiac.com/dragon.php

“Dragons symbolize such character traits as dominance and ambition”

I certainly began with ambition.  I wanted to transform my classroom with apps and iPads and ensure that everyone was filled with inspiration and passion.  I would “flip” my classroom on its ear!  Oh, wait!  That could be painful.  Perhaps I would just enter a “flipped” learning journey.  However, the Learning Leader Project was just one of many fabulous, risking and wonderful projects my students, colleagues and I took on this year.  I was We were always doing something, but it felt more like checking in, checking up and stumbling upon creative and effective things to do.  For example, our letter to Robert Munsch took on a whole new look with the iPad.  Our librarian had the idea to contact Robert Munsch and ask him to visit our school.  But, the question became: What can you do with a blog, Youtube, an iPad and desire to connect with an author when you only have a day or two to pull something together?  Collaboration and spontaneous learning and sharing were unleashed by the ease of the technology – the iPad camera.  http://www.psdblogs.ca/mrogers/.  I’ve learned to temper my ambitions and allow myself to wait for good things to happen.

“Dragons prefer to live by their own rules and if left on their own, are usually successful.”

I We achieved success.  But, did we live by our own rules?  Not exactly!  I discovered the rules sometimes applied, sometimes bent, but there were always rules.  Perhaps we are creating them as we go.  I did learn the rules for Twitter and usually get the difference between an @ and # right, but not always.  Mostly I rediscovered that if you know the rules, things go much more smoothly and that the rules as the students see them are different than the rules as I see them.  We certainly dialogued about appropriateness – appropriateness of an app, appropriateness of what to put “out there”, appropriate amount of time spent, appropriateness of playing games as learning – you get the picture.

“(Dragons are) driven, unafraid of challenges, and willing to take risks.”

This is scary stuff because we are always risking something.  We put our professional and private selves out there when we get involved with social media.  Common Craft gives me their take on the “Importance of social media – Social Networking http://tinyurl.com/3gnj4z2”, but they don’t discuss what teachers have to think about.  It is a good thing that as Learning Leaders we are continually dialoguing about this and thinking about ethical parameters not as barriers but as guides to creating caring communities. There is a risk in sharing. We are moving into an age where we build on each others’ experiences and put ideas “out there” but we also receive things back. Lurk or participate that is the question, but the answer is we all have something to offer and are stronger together.  There is also a risk to students, too!  What used to be private has now gone public.  How much is too much?  We need to ask the question because once on the Internet it never goes away. Hmmm!

“(Dragons are) passionate in all they do and they do things in grand fashion”

Yes, I’ve felt that passion this year.  AND it is growing.

“Unfortunately, this passion and enthusiasm can leave Dragons feeling exhausted and interestingly, unfulfilled.”

We can’t do it all.  But we can do something.  Then we rest and take the summer off to relax, rejuvenate and explore what we couldn’t do doing the school year.  We are unfulfilled because we are dragons who seek more … more learning …more sharing  … more apps … more exploration of all that is out there and how it can improve my our learning.  In the year of the Dragon, being a part of the Learning Leader project has reminded me that there are many dragons out there and our passion cannot be chained.

We will be back next year….