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

VoiceThread

In my adventures in iPad apps, I have consistently ran into the same problem.  What do you do when you have a great app you would like students to use for a project when not all students have and iPad?  In my iPad adventures, I have found that several of the Interactive Whiteboard apps have amazing potential to be linked to project-based learning but virtually all of them involve owning an iPad.  Now, with the iPad 2 now selling for a cool $419.00, the price is dropping but the majority of students still do not possess these nifty devices.

So I began searching for apps that students could use on an iPad or on a computer.  One of my administrators, directed me to a cool app called Voicethread.  The program allows you to upload pictures and make handwritten annotations on the picture while also recording your voice or recording video.  You can upload several pictures to make a sort of…well…story.  As a language teacher, I thought that this would be a great tool to use for my Japanese class, so I pitched it as an optional way to complete the Japanese Festival Project in my Japanese 30 class.  Many of the students opted out of using the new app and stuck with the familiar PowerPoint program but I did have a couple of students who gave the new program a shot and it made marking an absolute breeze!  The students who used the program used it in two different ways.  The first did it on her computer and was not able to make the written annotations but was able to record her voice while advancing through her uploaded pictures.  The second student actually used his Blackberry tablet to complete the assignment and he was able to make written annotations while also recording his voice.  While it was unfortunate that the written annotations were not available using a computer, I was pleased that a $199 device like the Blackberry tablet was able to incorporate this feature (a world of caution…one thing that some of you may not like about Voicethread is that you are not able to get the video as a file. You instead, have to share the link which does not allow you to save the video file.  Although this is typical to almost all of the interactive whiteboard apps out there, it is still something that I believe limits the flexibility of this particular application.  In addition, if you want to see one of the videos that your student has shared with you, you must already have a Voicethread account to watch the video.).

 

Flipped Classrooms

“Flip your instruction so that students watch and listen to your lectures… for homework, and then use your precious class-time for what previously, often, was done in homework: tackling difficult problems, working in groups, researching, collaborating, crafting and creating. Classrooms become laboratories or studios, and yet content delivery is preserved.” (http://www.connectedprincipals.com/archives/3367).

This reminds me of university.  When professors handed out reading assignments with a timeline and would just move through the material whether you read it or not.  I was responsible, enough, to do my readings.  I have some students who struggle to bring enough food in their lunch, never mind listen to a 20 minute video on Capacity.  I work hard to keep everyone’s attention during discussions, using cues to listen, proximity to refocus and strategies to maintain good classroom management.

Questions I have:

  • Who will be making sure the students are actually paying attention and are engaged in the video?
  • What ages are kids expect to do this at home?  Is this a high school or Jr. High or even elementary?
  • How can we expect or what time expectation should each student be doing at night?
  • How can we plan a lesson if students do not do their homework? Do they just fall behind?
  • What if the technology fails, dial up is still in use, or some kids do not have access to the computer for a long time?
  • How do families with many children share the computer when everyone needs to do their homework before the next day?
  • What will parents think of this?
  • What roles do teacher play? Can the teacher then become replaced?  Couldn’t we just buy a video?
  • Would classroom size change?
  • Are teachers ok with being viewed by parents and anyone with access to that USB stick or website?

There is a lot to think about.   Perhaps we could have a flipped teacher?

Flip your teaching so that students watch and listen to your lectures……from the comfort of your own home?  Lol ok a little sarcastic but the technology isn’t really that far off.  With Ipads we can use Apple T.V. to watch and write on students Ipads from a remote location.  Would a flipped classroom end up being a threat to teacher jobs? Even with the technology we have,we are not there….. Yet.

Learning and the 7 Stages of Grief

By Kathryn Kindrat – Middle School Teacher, Seba Beach School

Throughout my life I have learned so many new things, I continue to learn every day, and I am excited to continue learning… that doesn’t mean it has been easy. I recently read a Twitter post about a poetry project, made by a university student doing her practicum in Calgary. She and her cohort student teacher partner developed an incredible inquiry based poetry unit, the likes I have never seen before. In her words:

Our Grade 6 Humanities classes completed a three step writing method that culminated in a kinetic poem. Each phase required students to delve deeply into their thoughts and wonders, broaden their knowledge of poetry and powerful writing, become familiar with different computer programs and websites, and tap into their creativity.

Students documented their work using the online notebook program Evernote which was synced and shared so we could monitor progress instantaneously. We placed emphasis on the process rather than the product and assessed students by giving them formative feedback on their written reflections completed after each phase. The student’s ability to communicate their understanding and experiences was our evidence that meaningful learning took place.

To bring their poems to life, students used Keynote to create text animation. I was amazed how quickly they mastered the program and how they naturally collaborated to share their knowledge. Watching the finished products proves that richer language was used to communicate deeper messages and this makes these poems worth producing.

– University of Calgary student teacher, Lisa Nguyen           http://calgaryscienceschool.blogspot.com/2011/11/poetry-that-moves.html

I must note, I consider myself to be fairly current in both new technologies and teaching practices, still I was blown away. I think you will understand what I mean if you check it out. Here is a blog post that will give you a quick intro and some product examples: Poetry that Moves.  And here is the actual class website that outlines the complete process: Poetry Project.

I am ashamed to say, after the initial feeling of awe wore off, my next reaction wasn’t one of excitement; rather, I boarded a roller coaster of emotion and had one heck of a ride. Naturally, as a teacher, I buried any negativity I had, and swore not to speak of it. Then I thought about the, Obvious to You. Amazing to Others., video that we watched in our first session. I reflected on the idea that perhaps my shameful feelings, and the journey that I went on, are things that others could relate to, identify with and perhaps find comfort in, and maybe, I would feel better about the situation if I said something out loud. So here it goes.

Learning and the 7 stages of grief

Shock and Denial

As I looked over the website, the first thing that popped into my head was, yeah this is great, but… there is no way this is the work of a normal grade 6 class, they must be advanced and highly trained in the inquiry process. And I bet the unit took forever! There is no way to actually accomplish what she did while covering the rest of the curriculum objectives… and on and on. Then came the guilt came rushing in.

Pain and Guilt

I felt bad, like I wasn’t being the teacher that my students needed me to be. I had these physical pangs of guilt, thinking about how a university student is utilizing all the newest technology to its fullest potential, at the same time engaging and guiding the kids through the inquiry process. She not only facilitated some incredible learning, she documented the whole thing online, including video reflections made by the kids that actually showed their learning as it happened. UGH! I started beating myself up, thinking of how I needed to do more, be better…

After a little bit of ice cream and Jersey Shore (nothing makes you feel better about yourself than Jersey Shore), I thought about it again. That is when I got mad.

Anger and Bargaining

I thought to myself, of course she is able to do this amazing unit; that is all you have to do in your practicum! I am juggling 3 grades, with twice that in levels and adaptations, I coach, I take care of a home, I am so exhausted from all the work I do already, how can I possibly do MORE?!! I quickly realized that I was pissed off, not because this girl has it easy because that is not true, but because I care A LOT about the work I do and I feel a tremendous amount of responsibility to give my students the best possible education I can. I just want to find a way to reach all of my students, deliver all of the content, create lifelong learners and maintain excellent relationships with every student. Is that too much to ask? Am I just not good enough?

Depression, Reflection and Loneliness

I was upset. I felt sad and alone, because I was sure that no other teacher would have this kind of reaction to witnessing such a powerful learning opportunity. Somewhere between berating my abilities and wallowing in self pity, I started reflecting on my own teaching practices and the things that I can do well, and realized something… I am not doing so bad.

The Upward Turn

I started thinking about some of the new technology and engaging activities that I have introduced/explored with my students, from using Animoto, Edmodo, YouTube, Glogster EDU, edublogs, to performing comedy routines, hosting critical thinking contests, participating in online debates and group poetry; the list goes on. I started thinking about what I could do, instead of the things I couldn’t.

Reconstruction and Working Through

I began brainstorming ways that I could adapt the unit and the process to fit with my kids, the context of the school and the resources available to me. I started getting excited at the possibility of introducing them to something they have never done before, not only in terms of the final product and technology, but also in the process.

Acceptance and Hope

I realized that before I could truly open my eyes and begin learning from my peer, I had to accept that learning can be uncomfortable at first, it can be downright depressing! I started to think about how it might be possible that kids go through similar emotions when tackling a difficult story, or a new math problem. Do they see other kids going through the motions easily and get mad that they are not yet at the same level? Do they feel bad about their own abilities? With support, can I help them get to that “Upward Turn”? Something clicked for me; I am not alone, learning something new, especially those big learning moments, can be hard, it is a journey, for better or for worse. Now I am at the hopeful stage. I am going to give this unit a try, I have no doubt that it will be difficult, especially the first time around, but I know we can do it.

I will leave you with this final thought, you are not alone. Cliché yes, but also true. I encourage others to talk about, not only their successes but also the journey, including all of the hills and valleys that they encountered along the way. If we tell ourselves or others that new learning should be easy, or come naturally, we are bound to give up if it isn’t or doesn’t. As twisted as it sounds, I prefer to think about learning as grieving, I know I will go through some tough moments, but if I give myself time and the benefit of the doubt, I will pull through and be stronger for it.

How does this relate to specifically to being a learning leader in the area of technology? Though the learning curve with technology is steep, being young and involved, I was naïve enough to think that nothing could scare me, but as I am learning, there is always something new – something better. We always have to be ready for that big scary plunge that takes us outside of our comfort zone, and to embrace all of the crazy feelings that are part of the package.

Things they do not teach you at University

As the teaching years go by,
I stop to think and sometimes sigh.
They never mentioned any of this in class,
Now I come across these mentions so fast.

For they taught us about inclusion,
Assessment, ethics and diversity.
but they left some things out in my university.
I write about moments that stopped me in my tracks,
making me think they never mentioned this to me.
So I share these moments at a cost to you that’s free…

1) How to work the photocopier
Now you may laugh at this one at first,
But to a student teacher, this thing is cursed!
Im sure we have all received emails on it being jammed,
And we all place bets on who was the one that crammed!
We also talk about who used the ink,
Who used it all, who was the Stink?
It never fails that it runs out of paper for me,
Making me ask the question, refill it or just flee?
But my favorite is when you try to get things unstuck,
Following the pictures slowly makes me feel like a schmuck.
Then there is scanning your documents in,
Then asking for help as your patience wears thin.
For the copy is sideways and keeps saying error,
Then comes our secretary to ends it’s rein of terror!

2)The Christmas Concert
Oh, hears to the magical time of year,
When everyone gets the schedule of cheer.
Practicing songs, actions and standing position,
As kids sing old, new and funny renditions.
They do not tell you what it all takes,
To make it flow nicely without any mistakes.
Then comes making the costumes and painting the set,
Getting it to match for the juggling reindeer duet.
I have also learned to be lined up and not to be late,
The minute they call you or you sit behind grade 8!
The concert is fun to watch and lovely to hear,
But I never get to for in always in the rear.
And one more Thing I forgot to mention,
It was my own fault, a lull in comprehension.
Little did I think about the school parking lot,
Until I’d parked and the school was a tiny dot.

I just wish at some point university would tell you these things,
So when thrown in the rapids, we would at least have water wings.

To be continued……..

Welcome to the Learning Leader Program!

Dear Learning Leaders 🙂

Thanks so much for your interest and participation in this new initiative by Parkland School Division.  The main focus of the group is to connect to each other while also connecting with a global network of educators to be able to personalize learning to meet the needs of our students.  Each session will show you some tools that you can use, but there will also be a component of connecting with other educators.In between sessions, there will be a blogging component to share our learning openly with the division and the world.  I will be asking each participant to write one blog post in between sessions

All sessions start at 4 and end at 5:30 at the Center for Education (Board Room) except for Session 6 which will be a half day.  Please charge 1 sub for this day (2 for the high schools) to the superintendent.  All other subs above and beyond that will be paid for by your school.  You are able to choose which date works best for each “session” from the two options below.

Session # Option A Option B
Session 1  November 30  December 1
Session 2  January 18  January 25
Session 3  February 14  February 23
Session 4  March 13  March 14
Session 5  April 24  April 25
Session 6  May 23, 1-4 (PM)  May 23, 1-4 (PM)
ANY CHARACTER HERE

Here is a checklist of things that you will need to do before the first session if you do not have these already:
Set up an iTunes account for your iPad.  You will need a credit card to download apps so please discuss this with your principal.  All of the apps that I will be sharing in these sessions will be free.

  1. Set up a Twitter account.
  2. Set up an “Evernote” account.
  3. Read the following blog post: The Blended PLC.  This will be the model of this group.  There is a blogging component.
  4. Fill out this survey when you are done the above 3 steps: Learning Leader Survey

Please ensure that you write down your UserNames and Passwords for all accounts that you sign up for this project.

The iPads will be sent out to the first person on my list from each school next week.  Principals have ordered iPads for other participants and they should be in soon.  I encourage you to take them out, play with them, and explore. However, it is important to note that if you are having any problems with the iPads, these are currently not IT supported devices.  Your best bet would be to contact Apple if something is wrong or let me know.

Please download the following apps on your iPad previous to session 1:

  1. Evernote
  2. Twitter

If you have any questions about this project, and they do not need to be private, please write in the comments below.  This way, I will be able to answer a question you have for the entire group.

Thanks again for your participation!!