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

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.

Are They Able to ‘Buy In’?

Who are they?
Exactly, who am I talking about?
As teachers, we hope and want our students to ‘buy into’ our class. We want them to get excited about something, sometimes, anything! I find that the students that struggle are the ones that have nothing invested. They fight doing what they are asked to do, approach work with a bad attitude, think negatively towards the whole idea of school, moan and groan when getting started, give up very easily, avoid using strategies that are new and ‘hard’, are scared and do not care to understand it, and find other ways to get around not using things we teach them to make life easier….
Couldn’t the same be said about technology?
Who are they?
Exactly, who am I talking about?
As teachers, we are surrounded with technology. Cameras, ELMOS, Smart Board, Laptops, Desktops, Ipad, NEOS, printers, etc. Teachers have become the ones that need to ‘buy into’ technology. We are the ones that are supposed to get excited about something, sometimes, anything around it! I find, as my schools learning leader, that SOME teachers are struggling to use it because of familiar reasons. They fight doing what they are asked to do, approach work with a bad attitude, think negatively towards the whole idea of technology, moan and groan when getting started, give up very easily, avoid using strategies that are new and ‘hard’, are scared and do not care to understand it, and find other ways to get around not using things we teach them to make life easier…..
Now there are teacher that are approaching it, using it and some are doing wonders with it. They are the ones that have something invested. It is helping, adding and making their classrooms a modern place to learn. Of course, we all have experienced the moment when something doesn’t work and frantically fiddle with buttons or wires as we announce ‘We are experiencing technical difficulties.’ I am going to stick with a positive approach.
As we move into the future, there will be even more technology that finds its home in our learning communities. I can only image how lost or confused I would be if I didn’t update my knowledge on the latest technology on a regular bases. Or how frustrated I would be if I wasn’t open to the idea of using it around the classroom. I guess it leads me to this. Whose responsibility is it to teach or learn these new programs or devices? When is this learning supposed to take place?

Old Dogs and New Tricks

Oh – have you heard about the latest, greatest thing that will make your life easier?  Very often I choose to ignore these claims and stick with what I know but last year I decided that this was going to the year that this “old dog” learned some “new tricks”!  Everywhere I turn now, it seems that I’m hearing about something new – this leaves me with many thoughts and emotions.  Relax … take a deep breath and remember you can’t learn it all at once – I say to mylself again.  What, another new app – I haven’t figured out the last one yet.  How do I keep up – or do I even try?  Everyone must feel this way at some point – right?  Learning is not always easy – that’s what I tell my students and yet I feel like I need to be told that too.  Maybe I’m not the only one feeling this way though – I would feel better if there were others.  Each journey must begin with one step and I believe I’ve made that first step in the right direction.  Does anyone else ever feel like me . . . . . overwhelmed?

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.