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

Final Reflections

It’s definitely been a year of growth in my use of technology, particularly as I was working with a younger group of students in my new Grade 1 position. I really appreciated the opportunity to reflect on my own professional use of technology through this Learning Leader Project, and also on the potential of my students’ use of technology.

I have benefited from the chance to read about my peers’ professional learning through this blog and Twitter this year, and it’s encouraging to see all the directions that the Learning Leader Project has taken teachers in. I am grateful that PSD has made this type of initiative possible, and that our growth as teachers is a clear priority.

While I’m possibly not destined to become a Twitter-fiend like some of my colleagues, I’ve continued to hone my teaching and discover innovative approaches to teaching through my use of Pinterest this year. Having an iPad at home to explore teaching ideas, and in the classroom to open up a world of opportunities to my students.

We’ve been fortunate to have all the staff at Millgrove sharing apps this year, and I’ve learned so much from how my colleagues are using the iPad in their classrooms. Here are some of the Apps we use at Millgrove:

Haiku Deck

Used for Social Stories with children who require pre-teaching for a fieldtrip or cultural event


Great for learning Math for example going on a shape walk in and around the school and making a movie of those things that are similar

Endless Alphabet

This helps children learn the letters and build vocabulary at their own pace

Bad Piggies

This app allows students to use critical thinking, problem solving skills and cooperation

Number Rack

Here is an app that is open-ended and uses Base 10 beads. We use is for “How many ways?”

Dolch Words

Students read the words, trace them and can complete a voice recording

Felt Board

Inspired by flannel boards, Felt Board is an app with hundreds of flannel pieces in digital form. It has enabled students to collaboratively illustrate scenes from a story, and has inspired student writing as well. It’s great for use in a literacy station where students can create a picture and then write about that picture. The illustrations can be saved to the iPad’s photo roll, and is great fodder for beginning story-writing.

Story Buddy 2

This user-friendly app enables beginning writers to publish their own polished, illustrated books. Students can include pictures from the iPad’s camera roll or from an internet search and even allows students to include an audio recording on the pages. The book can be saved as a PD and is a great way for students to showcase their writing and learning.

A-Ha Moments with Social Media

We see the value of Social Media to enhance our teaching by connecting us with fellow colleagues around the world. We also see how articles are found and conveniently retweeted. This cuts down the search time and links us directly to relevant information.

Sharing With Staff

On the November PD day, we hosted Learning Leader iPad centers. Staff was invited to explore the various apps and learn how different grade levels used this tool. This hands on, interactive session was well received and more time was requested.

In March, we hosted the Tri -School PD morning. We supported our staff from the Tri-Schools at the tables by sharing how the iPad works in our classrooms. We also shared apps that are our favorites when working with our early year students.

During PLCs throughout the year, there was consistent collaboration at each grade level. It was very helpful to have a learning learner represented from each grade to attend those meetings.

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.





Starting the process- Learning Leader Session #1

This morning for the first Learning Leader meeting, we watched the Seth Godin video, “Stop Stealing Dreams”. Seth talks about how education began and what the status quo has been for a long time. No matter how education came into being or how it has evolved, it should be pretty obvious, especially to educators, that it does not work for everybody.

So, what do we do for those learners who have said it didn’t work for them or those students of ours our are already saying that? I think that as educators, we should move towards looking at how to meet the needs of 21st century learners. I feel like learning in the 21st century is very different from learning that occurred in the past. Once upon a time, people didn’t have the access to information that is currently available.  As as student in the current system not even 15 years ago, I was limited by what my schools had to offer and I was limited by what my parents had to offer. My parents had lots of books and exposed us to lots of ideas, but it was still limited. The schools tried to offer a glimpse of diversity but that diversity was still limited. Libraries are great but they are still a limited resource because they do not contain access to every single idea or every single piece of information available. Even when you add up the access provided by schools and parents and libraries, there was still a finite amount of information available.

Fast forward to today. The amount of ideas and information that are available with the click of a mouse button are seemingly infinite. If there is an idea or a person that I disagree with, I don’t have to discuss those differences. I can simply click to another site or do another search until I find something that supports what I think. There is no mechanism where we learn to tolerate differences let alone explore those differences. I think that is a unique challenge faced by 21st century learners. It is not something that has been a problem before because when you are in a classroom or in a static location you are sort of forced to explore those differences. Even if you don’t fully explore them, you are still sharing the same physical space. I think more attention needs to be given to how to share the same virtual space because the lines between virtual communication and real life communication are being blurred at a staggering rate.

Young people have a different attitude about technology than older people do. A lot of older people are leery of technology and are not comfortable with it, and I had even been reluctant to ‘make the jump’ to Twitter until I TRIED it. Kids that are growing up today are what is known as digital natives. There has never been a time in their lives when they have not had computers as part of the scenery. There has never been a time when they have not been able to go online. Learning how to use a mouse and keyboard is something that they learn early on. I know that my 2 1/2 year old niece is already quite proficient with an iPhone and now that the district has given me an iPad for this project, she’s added iPad to her limited vocabulary! She can navigate to her favorite apps using the folders on both devices that I have set up for her. Watching her play and learn so quickly has me wondering if the role of the teacher shouldn’t be evolving just as quickly…@JanelleLongpre #psd70

Everyday I’m twittering…

I spent the last two years resisting twitter and putting down its role in our world, claiming it was a waste of time! Now, I am a hypocrite. I have used it recreationally, jokingly, intellectually, and professionally… and I am having a blast. I can’t believe I didn’t join sooner, facebook seems archaic now. I have connected with so many people for both courses I teach – Social and FSL, I have found many useful articles on current events and great resources in French. This has been taking up a lot of my time, but I love the idea of having a professional learning network! Now to find more time to go through all the amazing resources and make the shift from “lurker to contributor” (as beautifully put by lenglish) – that is the tricky part!

I love my iPad, but I don’t know why

Hmmmm! I have to post a blog that reflects how learning is enhanced by iPads. I’ve had mine for over a month and I’m not sure what I’ve done, but I am feeling guilty that I haven’t done more in my classes.  What have I been doing?  Exploring and reading!

I’ve tweeted and facebooked and RSSd and tried out ideas that have come forth.  I’ve purchased numerous aps and played with them.  Some do the same thing and I’ve compared them. I’ve talked to students about what they’re doing and I’ve eavesdropped on their conversations to find out aps they think are important. But what have I learned?  Perhaps I should just journal and let the random thoughts go…. So for the past few days I’ve just been recording thoughts and A-HAs.  Here they are in random order.


WiFi Dependent
I’m one of the last hold outs; I don’t have a smart phone or a data plan on my iPad or iPod. I am WiFi dependant.  This has restricted my use to McDonald’s, Boston Pizza and my home.  It makes for some interesting searching of sports scores and random facts. I often watch television and look up something that is mentioned. Is this authentic research? This reminds me of what my students have been automatically doing all year.  They pull out their smart device and look things up.  One student in particular who struggles with writing was charged with preparing a presentation for our job fair.  He visited his dad’s work and had to create a presentation to the other students in our school that would convince them this was the best job to apply for.  There he was sending text during class to his dad to check his facts!  Cool!  He was hiding it, but I was thrilled that he was doing authentic research and checking his facts.  He also used Safari to look for photos to add and whether YouTube had any resources. So, a student who previously would not have done the assignment because he had nothing to say contacted an expert. I can do that on my iPad! We can do that on my iPad, and it could be done with more speed and immediacy. Just-in-time learning! I love it!

Have iPad will travel
During our recent vacation time, I vowed to spend more time with family and with my iPad.  I took it with me while I went to a ski resort.  While driving to Kicking Horse I listened to music and played with VociceThread.  I had tried this in class with a student who was having difficulty in translating his thoughts into writing.  I had given him and an EA the iPad and asked them to try recording in voicethread when he had a good idea.  I thought it would work like a charm, but he came back and reported he didn’t like it.  We let that go and declared we would try again later. When I played with it, I agreed with him.  It is horrible to hear your own voice and it takes quite a few recordings before you become more comfortable. We’ll just need to get over this photbia – so we’ll try again. I love it!

I also played games – this is not what I want to do on my iPad – or is it? I used BrainTuner, SpellitRite2, WordSearch and three versions of flashcards. I can definitely use the flashcard aps. However, without WiFi, I was limited. So I made some notes in Evernote and looked at the instructions for OneNote that I’ve used on my PC before.  At the resort, once I hooked up to WiFi, I explored what music we could listen to.  I discovered the coolest app that allowed us to listen to over 1000  radio stations from around the world all classified by type of music and location – Online.Radio.Free.

Flying to the Clouds – everywhere
I have been anxiously waiting to gain WiFi access at school, so was thrilled when we learned about the Aruba access and the PSDAD access.  I started playing around with apps in spare moments and using Evernmote and OneNote but haven’t done much with the students yet. I see great potential for these aps for student use.  Together with Google Docs, this should allow all my students to work on their personal devices and be able to create documents and share them with others students and submit them for me for feedback and assessment. I was really pumped when a student who just got an iPad for her birthday asked me if she would be able to use OneNote. She is going to show me how it works. We should be able to jump into cloud learning with a bang.  Yahoo!  Today she told me she switched to Pages because she likes it better and is going to use it with Dropbox. I’ll have to check that out, but a free app compared to a $10.00 app – I know where my loyalties will be. Interestingly, I just got an attachment from a parent that was a Pages document and I couldn’t open it, but because of my student’s tutelage I knew that the parent could send it to me in word with the touch of a button. I love it!

I danced around the room when we got hooked up to Shaw, and thus WiFi, at HPS yesterday.  This is going to be so cool.I love it!

The Twittersphere
I’ve spent quite a lot of time on Twitter trying it out and getting comfortable with hashtags and @ symbols. I still get them confused, so I hope everyone is patient with me. When I got retweeted and discussed whether CBC should feature more skiing or give the time to more hockey with someone from Vancouver, I felt connected. I brought in the new year with a fabulous meal followed by a Three Stooges marathon. It was fun to receive tweets with facts about the episodes I was watching and vote for my favorite Stooge. I connected with PSD colleagues and have been getting good hints from RSS feeds.
Throughout this I have been comparing Hootsuite, Twitter for iPad and G-Whizz. I’ve decided I like the integration and convenience of every google app plus twitter and facebook in one place. I’m lovin’ it.

Down to Earth – iPad for teaching others
As I said, my iPad use has mostly been about my learning. It was great to have my husband ask to use the iPad. He is a recently converted technophobe who uses internet purely for researching ideas and browsing YouTube for howto facts, songs by familiar artists and obscure TV and movie facts. We were watching a TV program and he specifically requested to borrow the iPad – “that other device” – so he could quickly check something. It was cool as he is usually reluctant to try new technology because he is impatient with the learning curve. Clearly, he felt the iPad was simple to use, so this gives iPad a glowing review.

My next exploration happened today. We were making historical timeline in social. I’d introduced what I wanted them to include, and since we didn’t have access to our school’s computers or laptops, we are doing them on paper. A student asked if he could do his on Microsoft Word, but I said no. Why didn’t he work with his partners in Google Docs and utilize the spreadsheet? Everything worked as smooth as the proverbial silk. I now have an example to show others. I’m also going to check to see if there is a timeline making app. Also on my list are scrible to annotate research from the internet, vimeo and see if I can find a screenr app. I also am checking out AppsGoneFree.

So, I love my iPad. Somehow it is more than just a laptop or a smart phone.  I don’t fully know why yet. I can speculate about it providing me with another tool that extends the anytime, anyplace, anyjob idea and facilitates 21st century learning. Whatever the reason, each time I use it, I am usually successful and I go away knowing more. Perhaps most important for this project is that I know if I can do it, my students can do it. The iPad – or Smartphone, Android or Blackberry – will take us places that it is important to explore. So cool …

Social Media *cue the Jaws music*

Even after just one session, this project has already proven to be helpful to me.   I’m not just saying that because it seems like the right thing to say; it really did get me thinking.    After our first session I was talking with one of my colleagues about the session, in front of my students.  I explained how there’s a big push towards using Twitter for educational purposes.  My Grade 8s, who were clearly listening to every word I was saying as opposed to working, became overjoyed and replied with “Madame, that is so sick!  We should all use Twitter and Facebook for school stuff! Then you could Tweet to us about school stuff!”  (Their words, not mine)  To which my immediate reaction was “Abbbbbbsolutely not!”  This is where the real personal reflection began and I came to realize my fear of Social Media.  It’s not a fear that stems from not understanding SM, but a fear of overstepping professional boundaries.  At 23 years old, the age difference between my students and I caps off at 10 years, so this poses some concerns for me.  It’s not to say I don’t understand the idea of professional conduct or that I’m worried I may say something unprofessional, I’m just worried that SM would begin to blur the line of “Teacher-Student” for my students.  My goal for the rest of this project (and my career) will be to overcome this fear and embrace more readily the value of technology, SM and their integration into the classroom.