Session 1

It has taken me a while to actually sit down and get this blog post up. I am one of those people who loves technology, but has a hard time with letting go of the control and releasing my thoughts to the whole world via blogging, twitter, etc.

In the first Learning Leader session we discussed ways to create a learning network via Twitter with educators from around the world. The concept is incredibly exciting to me, but as usual, I needed to take the time to mull it over, play around with it, and really decide if it is for me. What I have come to realize is that if I want to stay up to date with current practice and ideas, this has to be for me.

I wouldn’t say that I’m a frequent user of twitter yet, but I see its value. I have come across some in credible ideas and conversations at this point, and look forward to what I will learn as I continue this journey.

20 Ways to Adapt the Science Lab

This article, posted by Leah Andrews, really resonated with me because it directly relates to my daily teaching. The post is entitled “20 Ways to Adapt the Science Lab” and can be found at the following link: http://www.paulakluth.com/readings/differentiating-instruction/20-ways-to-adapt-the-science-lab/. The article focuses on students with more severe disabilities, but can also apply to those students who are more reluctant to participate in a science lab because they do not understand the concepts or how to use the equipment, or often I find, they have lower comprehension, and therefore have trouble reading and understanding the procedure for a lab.

Many of the suggestions listed focus on adapting the labs so that each student can complete an aspect of the lab that aligns with their strengths. For example, students who are stronger with calculations will be responsible for that role. Others focus on adapting the labs themselves or the materials used in the labs.

I found this to be a great article/post because it simplifies a topic that seems very daunting when you try to do come up with ideas by yourself. The article also gives many ideas that allow to adapt a lab for a large portion of your class at one time by doing one simple thing, such as idea 6 which states giving students roles based on their strengths. Some of these ideas I have thought of before, but many of them are new to me and should help my students that tend to struggle, succeed.

The goal of every teacher is to ensure success for all students and I encourage all teachers, science teachers especially, to read this post.

Social media a modern day tool

I’ve always been intrigue with the debate of whether social media is a distractions and waste of time or a way for people (in particular students and teachers)  to collaborate effectively and productively with each other. Recently I  came across a blog post by Lisa Nielsen titled “Newsflash: Social media is real life.” In her post Lisa argues that social media is not a distraction, but a modern day tool  that can be used to foster, grow and transform learning. That adults and teachers have to compete with mobile devices for attention and the best way to win their attention is to become a partner with them. I especially like this last statement of becoming a partner; often I hear of the battle that teachers are having for attention versus student mobile devices. If students are using social media to engage with one another then teachers should be actively seeking ways to engage with students this way also. Students are more inclined to give you attention if you can relate to them in ways that they find interesting. Instead of battling the social media movement, how about learning something new and adding social media as a tool to your teaching tool kit. As Lisa Nielsen puts it adults need to put aside their misconceptions about social media before they are left behind.

@bwinchester67

Spreading the Word

On April 19th my class of forty-five grade five and six students along with myself, my teaching partner and our educational assistant went silent for 24 hours. We joined thousands of other people across the globe to raise money and draw awareness to children without a voice through Free the Children’s “We Are Silent” campaign. Using technology and social media we were able to be silent yet loud about this cause. Our students facebooked, tweeted and blogged about the event. It was fantastic to be able to show our students the positive and powerful side of social media. I strongly believe in the power of positive modeling in teaching yet I find we spend a lot of time and energy telling our students how not to use social media. It was refreshing to me to be able to show them how great it can be. I was also impressed with some of the self-reflection that happened as the students were blogging.

“It has been really fun so far and the biggest challenge so far is trying not to talk. I feel like no one is listing when I try to talk to them on a whiteboard or stickies. I feel bad for the kids without a voice since no one is listing to them and there just screaming to say something but no one’s listing.” Tyler P

“I feel really really bad for those kids that don’t have a voice. It would be terrible not being able to say something.” Dennis H

“We are now silent for 24 hrs. for those who don’t have a voice. It has been pretty nice and quiet around here with no one talking. The biggest challenge is not being able to talk to your friends and family for 24 hrs. I find it really unfair that kids around the world are being held against their will. It is not fair that they don’t get to live a happy life like us.” Caleb H

Student Blogging

I was scrolling through my twitter feed when I noticed a blog post by George Couros entitled 5 Reasons Your Students Should Blog.  It is a very important part off learning to have students partake in reflecting on their own learning.  Students can learn so much about how they learn, what they learn, and can even encourage the learning of others through the use of blogging.  My 2/3 classroom has a classroom blog to share what they have learned with each other and parents have the ability to subscribe to this blog and to take part in the conversations.  As my students are young and always very excited to use technology, the classroom blog was thrilling for them.  They are helping to write the posts and everyone puts their ideas in.  The problem we as a class are having right now is with parents.  It is very difficult to educate parents on the value of this activity, that it is safe, that a positive digital footprint is being created, and that it gives them the opportunity to interact with their child through a different venue.  I am struggling that most of my parents do not subscribe to this blog nor take part in the conversation despite a great deal of information going home and how positive it can be.  The love of this activity is dwindling because younger students want their parents to take part in their activity and want them to be involved.  I would love to hear how others get parents to buy in and to participate in blogging.

@AmandaButler9

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.

Learning to Share

One of the fundamental skills a child first learns upon entering kindergarten is sharing. This idea of sharing can be a difficult concept to grasp for many children especially if they have had little exposure of sharing at home. Just as this is one of the first skills we learn as a child; sharing idea’s, lessons,resources etc needs to be a skill that is appreciated by all educators. Of course this is not a new idea in education, but with the world becoming more connected, it is a great opportunity to share using new technologies.

During the second “Learning Leaders” lesson, we were introduced to the wonderful work of Dean Shareski. His work in promoting technology and “sharing” in education is an example for all to follow. The wonderful app, “Haiku Deck” was shared by Mr. Couras, and has proven to be a very useful tool in the class.

@Ferzlig

<iframe src=’http://www.haikudeck.com/e/ghTKgb6hyr’ width=’640′ height=’511′ frameborder=’0′ marginheight=’0′ marginwidth=’0′></iframe><a href=’http://www.haikudeck.com’ style=’font-family:arial,sans-serif; font-size:8pt;’>Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app for iPad</a>

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!!