Learning Leader Project – Final Assignment

Participating in this project has rejuvenated my teaching practises!  I am excited again about what I am doing in my classroom with my students.  I had found that I was in a bit of a rut and if I was feeling somewhat bored, my students were also likely to pick up on that.  So, when the opportunity to become involved in the Learning Leader Project came up, I am very grateful that I signed on.

I have learned so much during this project, and there is still so much more to learn. I have found several apps that have become favorites.  The first one is Evernote – I love this app for organizing the information that I have found and it gives me an easy way to access things later.  I don’t have to remember a lot of hashtags and labels, as things can go into the many “notebooks” I’ve created.  This works for me, and it makes sense to me for my style of learning and retrieving information.

I was trying to find a way to utilize an app immediately in the classroom and I discovered that Show Me does just that.  I teach Food Studies, and one of the things that is so important for my students to see are exemplars of what a good product should be (standards).  I had used my iPad to take lots of pictures of my students’ work at various stages during the cooking or baking process.  I had an “a-ha” moment, when I realized I could simply take one of these pictures and turn it into a mini lesson to illustrate what the standards for a good loaf of bread should be!  It literally took 21 seconds to do.  Now, I have big plans to turn out more of these “show me” lessons that will also be valuable to students who may have missed a demonstration that I have done in class.

I have also enjoyed using Twitter.  I found it took me awhile to get comfortable “tweeting”, but I am able to see how valuable Twitter is now for obtaining information and sharing and connecting with others.  Going back to what I said earlier about taking pictures of my students’ work, I sent out a few of these pictures through twitter, and was surprised to get several responses that connected me with other foods teachers (up to that time, my PLN consisted of no one in my area).  That led to a dialogue with a teacher in Red Deer who was struggling to fit a particular module into his program, and through Twitter, I was able to share with him what I had done.  It was a great connection, especially because most schools will only have one Foods teacher, so you really do need to have someone else to bounce ideas off of.

In my school, many teachers were part of the Learning Leader Project in 2011-12.  As a result, we have a lot of staff who are very savvy on this technology journey. I found this very helpful for me, because each of the sessions done in this project were packed with a lot of new information.  This, at times, could be somewhat overwhelming, so it was great to have others on staff that I could go to for help.  They could clarify or show me how they had used various apps and programs.  I don’t feel that I am an expert in any of this, but I have felt comfortable sharing what I have been learning, and it is encouraging to know that I am much further ahead now, than I was even a month ago, in utilizing apps, google docs and blogging.

My goal is to get my students comfortable sharing their learning.  For a group who readily shares their life on social media, they have been somewhat resistant to blog/share what they have learned.  This has surprised me, yet I know that if I am comfortable doing it, they will be too.  My hope is to create our own web page where my students consistently post their work and what they have learned as they created it.

Cheryl Jereniuk – Spruce Grove Composite High School


A Year Full of New “Stuff”

As I spend a few minutes reflecting about the past school year, one word comes to mind – NEW.  I don’t know that the there have been very many constants this year at all.  I look at this with mixed emotions – there are positives to change and some negatives.  I know that many of the changes I’ve faced this year are, or will be, positive changes.  However, there have been so many times that I’ve begun to feel overwhelmed with the changes.  I know that implementing any change is a journey and I need to remind myself of that . . . on a regular basis!  When I think back to what I didn’t know in September – I’m happy to find that I do know more now so I guess I’m headed in the right direction!!

NoteMaster Lite

This is an app I saw on tv that has actually turned out to be quite useful!  NoteMaster Lite (the free version) is a word processing type app that syncs with Google Docs.  I’ve found that when I’m wanting to create a document on my iPad or my iPhone, its can be difficult to use Google.  Although you can’t share your NoteMaster Lite document with others until you sync it with Google Docs, it is more user friendly for creating the document.  I’ve shared with app with some of my students and they’ve told me that they like it for taking notes in class and creating documents that they want to keep but don’t necessarily have to share with others.

Learning Leader Session 4 (Overview and Information)

As this session will be done totally online, please comment on the bottom when you are done going through the material with either a general comment, or something specific to the content.  Please feel free to ask questions or share your thoughts with others to spur on some conversation.

1.  Joe’s Non-Netbook – This video is a great one for discussion with students and educators to show how ‘text’ may not have the same feel as an iPad or computer with the lack of interactivity.  Check out this short, funny video done by students:

2. ShowMe – ShowMe is a great iPad app for creating video tutorials on different content, but you can also easily create presentations using pictures and upload them as videos to the web.  These videos can be shared and embedded into different websites, but below is a tutorial on how to create a slideshow using this app:

Before you make a video, you may want to check out what content is already at the “ShowMe” community.

3.  SoundCloud – SoundCloud is a great audio recording site that works not only from a computer, but also Apple Devices as well.  This can be used for students reading books live and putting into a portfolio, recording lectures or talks, or making easy podcasts.  There is simply a”record” button that will save your audio on your iPad, but be aware that this will be posted onto a website.

The nice thing about this, is that the content can be easily shared on Twitter, a blog, or Facebook.  You can also record music or any type of audio file.  Below is a SoundCloud tutorial on how to create a recording from a computer:

This short video will also show you how to easily embed a SoundCloud file into your blog.

Here are some questions for this session:

1. What are you thoughts on “Joe’s Non-Netbook”?

2. What are some ways you can use ShowMe in your classroom with either staff or students?

3. What are some ways could you use SoundCloud with either staff or students?

Thanks for your dedication to this project!  Details for the next session will come out in May!

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.

Simplex Spelling

I was shown this great app by one of my collegues, it is called Simplex Spelling.  There is one for sight words and one for phonics.  I have tried it out a bit and it is really neat, there is audio that talks to you while you are doing it, asking you to spell words and such.  It would be a cool quick and dirty activity for the classroom, especially for kids that struggle in these areas!

A Lesson in Physicks

If  you’re anything like me, you use Wikipedia mostly for looking up the plot summaries of movies you haven’t seen yet and video games you never had the chance to play. For this reason alone, Wikipedia is the most awesome thing to come out of the internet since that dog who rode the skateboard or that panda that sneezes on that other baby panda. It was therefore to my great surprise a few years back that, upon telling an inquisitive (annoying) student to look up some arcane fact on Wikipedia instead of asking me about it, that I discovered there is another sentiment circulating concerning  mine beloved site: the kid said his English teacher didn’t consider Wikipedia a reliable resource for research since anyone could edit it.

Now, I’d never really considered this because, after all, how was I to know that the plot summary to a movie I’d never seen wasn’t what they said it was? When I thought about it, the only other thing I’d really used Wikipedia for was to look up random physics articles, and I never considered that someone might falsify those because, well frankly, what a waste of time that would be.

You could say my world was pretty rocked after talking to this student (even more shocked than after I read the plot summary of Gone With The Wind and found out that the movie was really about a town carried away by tornado!). It made me wish that I could make my own, private Wikipedia, where I knew everything was legit and I had the power to edit articles in hilarious ways if I saw fit.

So that was the* great idea. That was about four years ago. A speaker I heard once said “My ideas are like baby turtles: I have lots and lots of them, but only a few ever make it to maturity”. I’m like that. I have lots of good ideas, but I forget most of them, or they never pan out. But this one stuck in my mind. And it was while I was reviewing with my Physics 30 class one day last semester that I found myself wishing again that the kids had an easy way of looking up info particular to that course online. Too bad there wasn’t a Physics 30 Wikipedia. That would really kick butt.

When the idea hit me again, I sat on it for a few days (you know, incubation) then started looking for a way to make it happen. I signed up for an account at Wikispaces and started fiddling around a little bit. Now, since I took that Edtech class back in college, I know my RAM from ROM and my Type I floppy disk from my Type II floppy disk, so it didn’t take long to build a little index page with some instructions and a few sample articles.  You can create accounts in bulk for your kids through Wikispaces, which is nice. It’s also free to educators (double nice) and is relatively easy to use (we’ll see how the kids find it). I’ve tentatively named my Wiki Physick. Urban, non?

My plan is to have my Physics 30 students next term build 3 pages each: one page on a topic in class they know lots about, one on a topic they’re unclear on, and one gag topic to keep the other kids reading their peers’ articles. The hope is that by June, we’ll have a functioning encyclopaedia of everything Physics 30 that future classes can edit, add to and learn from. If it works, that will be awesome. And if the egg never hatches, at least I tried. I was just reading on Wikipedia how Allen Iverson said you miss 100% of the shots you never take. Great quote, AI.