ECMP355 Summary of Learning

Well the semester is almost at and end, and it has been quite the journey! Here is my ECMP355 Summary of Learning final assignment.


Mentorship Interview

So here it is, my interview with my mentor from ECMP355. I truly enjoyed this experience and the opportunity to connect with an experienced teacher and her students. I am sure that I will connect with her again in the future. I appreciate the time that Kelli Holden and her Grade 4 students took to Skype with me. I hope I can return the favour sometime.

Unfortunately, life got busy, like it normally does and Kelli and I were unable to connect to record this interview live.

So I would really appreciate if you took the time to read my interview, Kelli offers some very insightful answers.

  1. What form of technology do you find the most convenient to include in the classroom? What form of technology is most beneficial to include in the classroom? What have you found to be the most engaging and user friendly technology?

    Tough question! I love, love the Document Camera. It allows everyone in the class to see everything – we use it to share examples, and students are constantly assessing each others’ work. As teachers, we walk around the room and see student work all the time. The Document Camera means that everyone benefits. It is so easy to pick up a piece of writing and have students analyze it and be inspired by it.

    Engagement depends on context and purpose. I find that students are engaged with all technology when the activity is purposeful, meaningful and authentic. It is the task that drives the technology, rather than the other way around.

    Our school recently received a class set of Chromebooks, and we love them! Because my students do a lot of blogging, and use Google Apps every day, we love the Chromebooks. We’ve also had a class set of iPads for 6 weeks, and loved that 1 to 1 experience. We were living the dream!

  2. What is your favourite piece of technology to include into the classroom? What do you find to keep students fully engaged?

    Currently one of my favorite pieces of technology is my iPhone! Because it is in my pocket, it’s easily accessible and we can use it for so many things. We constantly take photos, videos and tweet our learning out. It’s quick and easy to share responses with the class, and learning is immediate.

    It’s hard to pick a specific technology as being my favorite – rather it is the purpose of the tool. For me, my favorites are those that allow us to connect with others. Skype and Twitter are great examples. They let us talk with others, find experts and share our learning. A few years ago we used videoconferencing for that purpose. Sadly our units are broken now. Skype is a wonderful medium because it is so universal and easy to access by everyone. Videoconferencing was dependent on access.

    Again, engagement depends on the task and purpose rather than the technology being used. Researching about Education in Afghanistan is completely engaging when students need the information to promote the Art Show they’ve decided on and planned, as an example.

  3. Do you try to include technology into your everyday routines?

    Yes, definitely. As students walk in the room they do their attendance on the SMARTBoard. We sing O Canada and watch a Notebook file of pictures of the different provinces. Students use the Chromebooks or their own devices for their Work on Writing to start the day. They share their work during Authors Chair using the Document Camera or Google Drive. Other students help edit and comment using Google Drive. Others use Tumblebooks to listen to/read along with books. Websites, apps, clickers, etc are tied into our Math centers. Students use the Chromebooks, iPads, all manner of devices for creation/collaboration in the afternoon.

  4. What are some of the setbacks you have faced when using technology?

    Anytime you use technology, there’s a chance that it won’t work! I can’t count the number of times we’ve tried something only to have it go wrong. The best thing to do is take a deep breath, smile and start problem solving! I’ve learned to always ask the kids for their help – they usually know far more than I do, and that’s how you can identify experts and build strong teams.

  5. How did you first begin to implement technology in your classroom?

    Yikes! I’ve been teaching for over 20 years, so it’s been a while! I hate to date myself, but when I first started teaching we used Commodore computers to teach LOGO. It was a fantastic way to work with critical thinking and problem solving. I’ve always used technology, and love finding out about new ideas and tools.

  6. What initially got you interesting in creating a technology inclusive classroom?

    I know that as a student in University, using computers made my life so much easier! I also enjoyed the challenge of programming and the collaboration involved in creating projects. I knew that if it worked for me, it would work for the kids too!

    As time went on, what really drives my motivation to use technology in my teaching is how it levels the playing field for students. For example, those who struggle with writing often do poorly in school. Used properly, technology (iPad/Read/Write Gold/Speech to Text Apps/mindmapping make writing tasks easy, and then kids’ skills take off. It’s wonderful to see their confidence grow and shine.

  7. What is your student’s favourite way that you use and implement technology in the classroom?

    That’s a good question! I will be sure to ask them. I know that they love Skype, and they love creating with technology, whether it be using Google Draw, or animation apps, or using clickers to assess dat.

  8. Do you attend any PD events that are focused on technology in the classroom? Do these days seem helpful or a waste of time?

    Yes, I do. I have been lucky to attend a couple of Edcamps this year, in person and online. I love this form of PD, as it is affirms the expertise and knowledge that we all have, and lets the learner choose what and how they are going to learn. I am also registered in 2 conferences. One is the Language Conference, and I am also presenting on Student Voice in Social Media. I’m really excited about attending Innovate West and spending a day at the Calgary Science School observing students and classes.

  9. How do you think technology has altered the ways in which your students learn now, compared to in the past?

    Technology has made it so simple for students to make connections globally. Our classroom is no longer defined by the walls around us, but instead where we want to be. Students have the opportunity to learn from experts around the worl just by reaching out and asking! There are so many exciting opportunities for learning experiences.

  10. How do you use technology for assessment purposes?

    One of my favorite ways this year is through Google Docs. All my students use their Google Drive to store all their writing. Once they finish a piece they want to publish (usually on their blog), they ask a couple of peers to edit it. The proof that it’s been edited is that each makes a comment on the story. We’ve looked at and built criteria for good editing comments, and saying “your story is great” doesn’t cut it. As a matter of fact, a comment like that would probably get you fired as an editor in my room. When they’ve got at least 2 comments, then they come see me and we edit together. Working together, we leave another comment stating what the student’s strengths are, and what their goal is to work on for the next piece of writing. We do a lot of work using the 6 + 1 Traits of writing, so comments and goals are usually framed around that. I love using this formative assessment as it really hits home with the kids and they are more conscious of changing their writing habits as a result.

Thanks again Kelli. If anyone wants to follow Kelli on Twitter, she tweets some great stuff. @kelliholden

Keep on working hard everyone!! I’m sure everyone can see the light at the end of the tunnel!!


Finding the Right Resources

The amount of excellent resources you have, can really assist in creating a fantastic, creative learning experience and environment. One area that I have felt like I am lacking resources is in my technological abilities and the ability to use it in the classroom, especially when it is becoming such a push in Education. I am so thankful that I decided to take ECMP355, it has really opened my eyes and mind to the endless resources and ways that technology can be used in the classroom to enhance student learning. My journey through my internship did not result in many lessons where I used technology mostly because I found it easier to avoid it rather than embrace it and have a back up plan in case the first plan crashed and burned. I did have a SmartBoard and Ipads available to use, but never seemed to remember that when I was planning my lessons. I am not sure if this occurred because I never had access to these things during my own schooling, or if I found it easier to not use them because I did not think I had the time to teach myself how to use and troubleshoot the devices.cartoon

ECMP355 has lit a new fire inside me, sharing and discussing the possibilities with my classmates has allowed me to really see what is out there and how it could benefit me. Also, the many resources and websites that have been shared through all the recordings has really showed me that once you discover and educate yourself on the many different resources out there, the ease of using them in your classroom is likelier.

With all this said I am happy to share this post with you from Edudemic. It is titled 50 Education Technology Tools Every Teacher Should Know About. It is 2 years old already, which means that if they were to put out other list, I am sure there would be 100+ Education Technology Tools that teachers should know about, but I think it is a good place to start.


Blogger for Life?

So I have done a lot of thinking and reflecting on whether this blogging thing is for me. I have seen and experienced blogging within the classroom. I love the idea of blogging to keep parents updated with what is happening in your classroom. I also love the idea that Field Trip photos can be shared as well as special events that are happening at the school. For my ECMP355 class, my mentor Mrs. Holden has a fantastic blog. Last week, her students went on a skiing trip and she took many photos, then she turned then into a mini slide show to show all the fun the students had on the slopes. Blogging_2

As I continue to apply for jobs I am constantly thinking about how I can stand out from the many outstanding graduates. I am hoping that I give myself the time to make the blogging thing happen in my classroom and hopefully have the resources to invite my students to create their own blogs and have them blog about what they are learning.

What does everyone think? Is blogging something you can see yourself doing in your classroom? If so, what would it look like in your classroom?

Padlet and Piktochart

This weeks class was very informational. I was excited to see that there are so many different sites that could be used in the classroom. I decided to explore Piktochart. I did not create a Piktochart, but I looked at the examples and did start to create one.

Before I looked into the Piktochart, I used another one of the websites that was introduced to us. I explored and used Padlet as a brainstorm page for all the things that I know about the Brachiosaurus.

Padlet Screenshot

I really took this Tech Task and looked at it like I would if I were to use these sites in my classroom, and then used them like I would ask my students to use them. I love Padlet, especially if I am in a school that has Ipads. I would have my students all use the page as a brainstorming center. I like how easy it is to use, it would not take a group of Grade 3 students very long to figure out how to use it. Piktochart is a site that I would use in place of a Power Point or Prezi. I think that it is important for students to know that they have choice when it comes to the different resources that they have access toI am glad that these opportunities to explore the web are given to us. .

Let’s Talk Assessment

This week I was asked to watch a video of Alfie Kohn when he spoke to the teachers of Regina at their Conference last Friday.  He discusses the topic of standardized tests and formative assessments. Some of the thing that he talks about we have heard in many of our Education classes in the past. But he does raise some valid and thought provoking ideas and topics. The class which I watched it for was my Education Reading (ERDG) class, and one of the topics he talks about is the way we expect all students to be reading at grade level, which in turn is based off their age.

Assessment seems to be a hot topic in Education right now, and I think it always will be. But just like anything else in Education, it’s all a learning curve and finding what works and what doesn’t. If you have time, I highly suggest you watch this video. It really makes you think about what and how assessment and instruction can look like in your own classroom.

Warning: the video is long, but completely worth it!!

Espresso Coding

After Tuesday’s night class, I found myself very interested in discovering and exploring the many different ways and websites that feature coding. For this Tech Task I decided to play around with Espresso. I really enjoyed the Espresso sample lessons that they had. The had little videos to watch if you needed help and they also took everything step by step so there was no confusion or frustration that would arise. I also really like that it is something that could be very easily used in the classroom, with very little teacher direction. Students would have the ability to work through each of these lessons and feel like they can figure it out.
Here are some screenshots of some of the coding that I did with this program.
The first picture is of all the bubbles, the purple one is moving up. The second screenshot is where I have clicked on the purple bubble which was coded to make the green bubble disappear.
Screenshot March 6 #2Screenshot March 6

How did this Tech Task go for everyone else? Did you all enjoy it as much as I did?

The Art of Story Telling

So for this weeks Tech Task, I have tried to create some interesting storylines through assignments that I have found on DS106. Ironically, my first attempt was from a assignment which Alan Levine created. I started with Phake Tweets, and this is what I came up with. I love this idea of combining such a current social media  such as Twitter, and putting that twist on it to use it as a way to teach history and review historical events and quotes. This is an incredible easy way to tell a story, the hardest part was choosing a historical figure and what I wanted them to say.

My second assignment that I chose to do was also an assignment that was submitted by Alan Levine called Unphotographable, inspired by Phonar. It focuses on telling a story of a photograph that was never taken. So below I have written and described a photo that was never taken.

This is a child. A young girl, no older than 8 years old. Sitting in her desk, on that is too big for her because her feet do not touch the ground. There’s a paper on the desk top, a broken pencil on the floor. Head in her hands, her hair all a mess. Other than her, there is no one else in the classroom. In the background there’s a window, in the window you can see children playing in an open field.

I really like this assignment because it forces the students to describe something through sight or vision online. It has nothing to do with the feel or smell, just what it looks like. I can see myself using this type of story telling with elementary students. I could spend lots of time looking through all the different ways in which a story can be told, and the multiple ways this could be used in the classroom. I am thankful that I was introduced to these different ways to tell a story, because this could have students more excited about an assignment if it is introduced in one of these ways.


Substitute Teacher

I figured that in two months I will be entering into the Substitute Teacher world. What Substitute teaching looks like is so different depending on the teacher and the students. I really enjoy this video, and can imagine what this same scenario would look like in an Elementary classroom.