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