Reflections

Growing as an Educator Through 21st Century Learning

Throughout my engagement with technology, I have come a long way. However, I know that there is still room for improvement. On pinterest, I found another infographic (surprise!) on actions teachers can take to become better educators and leaders of students in the 21st century.

So far, my journey using technology for learning purposes has led me to THINK beyond the classroom, BECOME aware of other good teachers, CAPTURE what students are learning through documentation, PRACTICE using technology before doing it in the classroom, use SOCIAL MEDIA to connect with others and add a GAMING element to learning. I realize that while these are notable changes, they only take place at the classroom level.

The skills  that I want to expand on are when I begin teaching are  INCLUDING world in learning, LOOKING for ways to involve the community, HAVING a cause where students can engage in social responsibility and INCORPORATING parents into learning. If you view my Major Project/Unit Sample, I think that it includes some of these attributes, although I have yet to try this with a class.

Please comment if you can think of any other notable skills/attributes of a 21st century teacher!

Summary of Learning

Please view my last tech task as a summary of my learning throughout this course! From viewing technology in the classroom as SMART boards, slideshows and All The Right Type, I have gained so much knowledge and come so far. I appreciated these tasks because they made me grow as an educator. Although there were times when I was frustrated and confused, moving through these obstacles has better prepared me to support others in their technological endeavors. Enjoy my final reflection on my progress!

Language Learning 2.0

As my peer Charlayna McGill learned about a new language for our ECMP 355 project, she came across some interesting resources that can support students in learning a new language.

The first one is a free program called byki that gives the learner flash cards and tests them on their understanding. As assessment, the student must type the word shown on the card in their native language to demonstrate their understanding.

Byki

The second resource is called Digital Dialects and provides games in almost every language to support a students learning of basic terminology and essential communicative phrases.

Digital Dialects

I think that these tools demonstrate just how much someone can learn online — and for the price of free! I would use these tools in my classroom to support EAL learners and also my instruction in French. On a personal level, I think it would be very cool to use these tools in a heritage project for students (I know I would be interested in learning Ukrainian).

Despite all of the positive attributes that these tools have for independent learning, they would still need to be used with the support of learning activities or interactions with someone who spoke the language. How cool would it be to have students skype with someone who speaks the language after they have studied it?!?

Education in Findland

Click to visit the original post

Very interesting infographic. I think that this research poses some serious questions for educators to ask in regards to the changes that are taking place in Saskatchewan today.

Why are we implementing standardized testing. What benefits does it truly have for students?

Would reduced classroom sizes benefit our students? How could we reduce sizes?

What is inhibiting us from increasing physical activity and education in our curriculum?

What other social factors support the value of, and funding for, education in Finland?

This image summarizes my journey through education perfectly!

risks

As I come to the end of my time in University, I thought this picture summarized my journey quite well. I have lost many times and learned that you don’t leave a 10 page paper until the night before and that sometimes you need to trash your meticulously planned lesson in order for real learning to take place. I have also experienced much success of which I am so grateful for. I have survived 4 years of university and grown through amazing experiences such as internship. I have met friends and colleagues who have influenced me forever and I have also realized the VALUE of longtime family and friends.

I will remember this motivating statement and I hope that I have many chances to both win and lose as I enter the world of teaching!

This is the kind of leader I will strive to be in my classroom…

leader

There is no doubt that teachers are leaders within the classroom — it is an expectation that they should be. What is variable however, is the approach to leadership that teachers take, and thus model, for their students. Traditionally, leadership in the classroom was very authoritarian. Today this style does not meet the dynamic needs of our young learners. We need to lead cooperatively and share in responsibility with our students. How will our students ever become leaders if they are forced by classroom teachers to be followers their whole lives?

Pros and Cons of Technology in the Classroom

During my adventure through ehow (there always seem to be interesting links to follow on each article), I stumbled across some pros and cons to using technology in the classroom. As educators, council members and parents, it is important that we are aware of these before we advocate for increased funding for technology in the classroom. By weighing out pros and cons, we can ensure that we are making the best possible choice for our school and community.

Click here for the list!

There is no doubt that increased technology is an essential tool that many students will need to navigate, inquire and research during their education and throughout the career paths they choose. I find it shocking than that many learning spaces are grossly void of even the most basic computers.  I think that one major con that the article forgot to mention is that society values conformity in achievement. Funding becomes available to remedy problems, but the value of proactively investing in youth is not there.

What makes a good blog?

With the increase of education related blogs seen online, what makes one stand out from the rest? Here is a list of positive attributes that will enhance your blog, accompanied by examples.

Collaborative Blog Review

After viewing these blogs, I imagine myself using blogging as a tool for students, communication with parents and sharing professional resources. I would use separate blogs for all of these purposes though because I feel that the best blogs only had one purpose, and thus were more user friendly.

Addressing Cyberbullying for All Ages

Cyberbully is an insightful video and raises many important issues that are valuable for students, parents and educators. It is the story of a teenage girl who gets caught up in the online world of cybe rbullying.

Three things that stood out for me were:

  1. The ease with which a situation may become overwhelming/spiral out of control.
  2. The fact that students cannot escape cyber bullying by going home the way that they could escape traditional types of school bullying.
  3. The lack of tools and supports made available for students to deal with issues such as these.

I highly recommend that you watch this video and consider showing it to your students, or using part of it to prompt dialogue about this important issue.

Here is a video that is appropriate to use with younger students to start the dialogue about online safety. I think that this is a better option than the above video as it is proactive. With resources such as these being made available at a young age, we can prevent serious issues from happening and provide students tools to deal with them if they do.

Jing

 Jing is a screencasting and capture program presented by my classmate Emily Perreault that is free and very easy to use.

I would use it in my classroom by:

  1. Creating training or instructional videos for student use
  2. Capturing interactive whiteboard activities for absent  students
  3. Having students use the program as they solve problems so I can view them later
  4. Using it as a user friendly alternative to Prt Sc (Print Screen) option on most computers for screen capture

Check out this tutorial to see how to use this program. It sounds like it has been done by a student — another way to use the program in the classroom!

Assessing Students’ 21st Century Skills

As my ECMP Class engages more in discussions regarding implementing technology, topics of assessing our implementation and assessing the students proficiency are starting to come up. The Technology Integration Matrix was a good way to assess our own progress, however I always wondered about assessing the students.

This rubric posted by Henrico County Public Schools provides a thorough outline of markers to look for in student progress. Although I agree with the criteria provided, I cannot help feeling anxious about fostering student progress to the highest level. Of all of the schools I have been in, the majority of students and teachers are only meeting the lowest level. I am concerned about the dominant culture of schooling that still exists whereby paper and pencil assessments and tools still dominate the educational experience. I have no reservations about starting to make changes, however the task seems daunting.

For more information, research and ideas to get started, explore http://www.p21.org/

Implementing Technology to Create an Effective Learning Environment

There are many degrees of implementing technology and the largest concern for educators is ensuring that our efforts are authentic and conducive to enhancing our students’ education. A good tool to help educators reflect on their effectiveness is the Technology Integration Matrix provided by The Florida Centre for Instructional Technology.

It is an interactive matrix outlining the five levels of technology integration:

  1. Entry
  2. Adoption
  3. Adaption
  4. Infusion
  5. Transformation

The highest level would be one that incorporates characteristics of quality learning environments: active, constructive, goal directed, authentic and collaborative. The best part about this resource is that it includes sample lesson plans, videos, evaluative tools and professional development opportunities and support.  I suggest using it as a means for reflection, gaining ideas and improving student engagement.

Please look at my group’s collaborative reflection on Google Docs to get some more ideas for classroom uses.

COLLABORATIVE GROUP RESPONSE

Related articles

Brainstorming and Concept Mapping Tool: Bubbl.us

I have finally found a great tool, bubbl.us, to use as an alternative to Mindmeister. Both programs are great for mapping out ideas. With bubbl.us, however, no paid membership is required. On the downside, bubbl.us does not possess the sharing capabilities of Mindmeister. I encourage you to try out both. Check out this tutorial on bubbl.us to figure out which one works best for you!

To find out more information on Mindmeister, read an analysis by Megan Pearce on her blog here.

Digital Citizenship

While browsing educational blogs, I found a great post by Megan Pearce, a fellow education student, regarding Digital Citizenship. It is an online educational game by PBS called Webonauts. I decided to check it out for myself.

Here is a screenshot of the interface that the students will be interacting with:

Image

The game goes through a variety of scenarios including cyber bullying, password and profile protection and copyright issues.

PROS

  1. Students work toward rewards such as personalizing their outfit and adding items to their room.
  2. The story is told in a child friendly way with mild themes
  3. The motto Observe, Respect, Contribute is constantly repeated to ensure remembrance
  4. Students have more options to learn through creating an account.

CONS

  1. The game may be slow paced for proficient readers or students who are educated in online etiquette and literacy.
  2. There is no option for students to listen to the speech bubbles for lower level readers
  3. Many issues such as copyright are not named or defined, instead the game explained it as “not taking something that is not yours”.

It would take a class of intermediate students approximately 45 minutes to go through depending on their reading and comprehension rate. However, I would have extra activities for early finishers to work through. Afterwards, I think it would be important to explore more case studies and talk about student experiences and consequences.

Edmodo — The coolest resource I have seen all year!

In the ECMP 355 class I am currently taking, we were encouraged to learn about a new educational technology tool that we were unfamiliar with. As you may have seen on my latest posts and technology categories, I dabbled in Tagxedo. Today we shared these experiences as a class and I just had to highlight Edmodo as an exemplary resource. Similar to the Facebook interface, Edmodo allows teachers to setup an online networking community through Edmodo. This would be great for students to interact with the teacher outside of the school setting, develop online etiquette skills and access knowledge with a limited learning curve (due to the Facebook similarity). Please watch my colleague, Denny Park’s humorous tutorial on the uses of this resource in education.

Additional Resources

Denny’s Blog: http://dennyjp.wordpress.com

Great Read!

I have been completely absorbed in this book over the past few weeks. It is a great resource for teachers that includes 79 design principles for creating an environment to support student learning. With an astounding amount of research and schooling information, this book challenges readers to view the environment as an essential component of learning and achievement in our schools. It pushes teachers to consider the future of their students, working in a world with jobs and challenges that do not even exist yet. Promoting technology, inquiry and collaboration, I find it to be an invaluable resource for today’s teachers. As another bonus, it’s easy to read format makes it accessible for all!

If you are going to spend some time reading for professional growth, I urge you to spend some time with this resource!

Also, check out this video that supports the idea of catering to the yet unknown needs of today’s children!

A Stigmatized Gem?

Over the past few weeks as I have developed my blog and tried to connect with technology, I have delved into the world of twitter. At first I was very skeptical due to the publicity that twitter receives on the news as a controversial outlet for celebrity woes and a liability for professionals. However, once I started following and being followed, I am pleased to have joined such a current community in the practice of education! After creating an account, based on my profile I was matched with similar people — namely other educators. I have been overwhelmed with the amount of helpful articles, perspectives and resources that I have come across in this online community. In addition, Twitter has been a great way for me to promote my blog and share the resources and perspectives that I have.

As an amazing success (which I am so excited about) I have been followed on twitter by one of my early childhood role models, Lisa Murphy @OoeyGooeyLady!

This change of heart and success found on this social networking program emphasizes to me strongly the importance of having an open mind when using technology. Had I simply relied on my previous notion of twitter, I would not have found such an amazing educational resource!

Collaboration Hot Spot — Google Docs!

During our last online learning experience my favourite tool that we used was Google Docs. We were able to collaborate by working together on the document at the same time and communicating through a chat on the right hand side.

To get started, you will need a Google account. Once you have an account, you can create any kind of office documents as well as surveys and SMART files, or even upload your own.

Here is a sample of a group reading response that we did online:

Collaborative Reading Respons

Technology in the Classroom — How far behind are we?

As I continue to increase my repertoire of technology tools to use in the classroom, I often wonder about community and administrative approval of this change in teaching and learning. In my experience, there have not been many opportunities to see the increase of technology in practice so I have been unable to weigh out the pros and cons in an authentic setting. While browsing Google Scholar, I found an interesting article about the successes of this program in Taiwan which led me to ask — how far behind are our schools?

This article explores the idea of using social networking as a tool for learning, community involvement, collaboration and differentiation. In a specific school example, researchers explore these uses in a science context and record the attitudes of teachers towards these changes. They found that the use of social networking, combined with hands-on natural learning improved student success at every level of proficiency. Students were able to make connections and carry academic discussions with others all over the world at the same level. In addition to creating a community of learning, this strategy allows for students to express their multiple intelligences by documenting learning through visuals, audio, mini-blogging as well as in traditional ways. The study found that the majority of teachers were willing to try social networking despite the structural classroom change.

Although this sounds like a great idea, many educators in Canada might be apprehensive about this change — especially with the use of networks such as facebook, twitter and instagram which have received negative publicity from many teachers (in relation to privacy and job security). In addition, many parents may resist the idea of their students developing global relationships with strangers. Of even more concern, will the school’s infrastructure support the expanded use of technology? In my school, it would be a large waste of time with bandwidth issues and screening restrictions put on student access to particular sites.

If Saskatchewan schools are able to catch up to the rest of the world, this article  highlights some fantastic benefits to this type of learning:

1) Increase in collaboration and globalization

2) Welcomes differentiation in modes of learning, communication and expression

3) Welcomes community involvement and participation

4) Insists on the continued importance of the natural environment, inquiry and exploration in the use of technology

To find out more — check out the article: Using Social Networking in Elementary Science Learning

Technology in the Classroom

Throughout my elementary schooling experience, the use of technology within the classroom was obsolete. The most exciting transition that I remember was the switch from blackboards to white boards when I was in Grade 4. Talk about progress! When one of the grade four teachers retired and her classroom was transformed into the computer room, I remember being so excited to have “computer time”. However, I was soon disappointed with the woes of All The Right Type and the occasional Word Document. Technology was not yet an integrated tool to support student learning in other areas of education.

For those of you who did not experience the joy of All The Right Type, here is a quick video to get you up to speed! 🙂

As I progressed through high school and university, my fascination and exposure to technology increased alongside the rest of the world. I now know how to use a variety of programs such as TwitterFacebookPreziBloggerWordPress, etc. as well as the devices from which these programs are run. Now moving from the student role into the teacher role, I am feeling the weight of my responsibility to share these amazing learning tools with my students.

After my first ECMP 355 class, I anticipate the opportunity to expand my plethora of tools that can be used engage and support student learning!

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