C’est la fin…

 

Well, ECI 834 has come to an end. After taking 831,832, 833 and 834 with both Alec and Katia, I have to say – it’s incredible to see my progress when it comes to Educational Technology. Every class has offered something new and exciting and everything is applicable in every classroom! I have always pushed my own comfort zones and have found myself more immersed in wanting to learn more about EdTech and its application in the classroom.

The Module project had to have been one of my most favourite assignments to date towards my Master’s degree. It is honestly the most practical piece I have worked on in a long time (aside from Units that I create for my elementary students).  I hope to actually put pieces of it to use next year!

Chalyn, Justine and Aimee were an amazing team to work with and I am so proud of what we accomplished. We received some amazing feedback that really helped us get an outside view of something we were so close to. Thank you to our reviewers for all the great suggestions and comments – they were truly appreciated.

We created this Google Doc to address some of the suggestions and comments made by our reviewers.

For my Summary of Learning, I used the Do Ink Green Screen app to create an infomercial to sell ECI 834. It is a sarcastic view of how corny infomercials are but it also explains all the qualities of Blended and Online Learning. Thank you to Logan, Amy and Angela for helping with testimonials and to the teachers at my school for being involved!

Do Ink Green Screen App is an easy enough app to use, but it does take some time to get used to. My original green screen I was using wasn’t “green enough” for the app and my skin tone was too close so I looked like the Invisible man. My students really enjoy the app and for my purposes, I found it to be useful. I’m sure their are better apps to use, but they may not have been as user friendly as Do Ink.

I hope you enjoy. Thank you again to Alec and Katia for a great class (and sorry for mis-pronouncing your name in the video Katia- I’m not really sure how it came out that way).

 

Treaty Education and Technology: Learning the Past by Using the Future Part Deux

EC&I 834 has been an amazing experience for me. I’ve always loved incorporating technology into my learning, but actually blending my learning using technology was something that I wasn’t doing as well as I had wanted. The module project allowed me, Chalyn, Aimee and Justine the opportunity to really look at creating a unit that would meet the criteria set out by Alec and Katia, but also be something that is actually useful in the classroom. I fully agreed with Kyle‘s assessment about how too often what we do in University doesn’t always translate into real world application. But I have always found that learning with our fearless EC&I tech leaders I take what I learn and directly apply it into my everyday teachings.

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CC Image via Flickr by BiblioArchives / LibraryArchives

This is exactly how we approached our module. I was fortunate enough to work on the new French OTC documents this summer and realized that there is a place for technology to help teach about Truth and Reconciliation with our students. After deciding on the Grade 3 first inquiry unit, we set to work – and I can’t wait to share with you all of our amazing modules! This is one kick butt assignment that, if I had to go in to Grade 3 tomorrow to teach, I would be starting with this.

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Creating an blended learning opportunity with Grade 3s was quite a challenge. Their level of skill on computer and using an LMS will be limited, so that is why we chose to use Google Classroom. Google Classroom allows for an easy transition for students who may already be using Chromebooks and Google Docs.

CC Image via Pixabay by bykst

One thing that Aimee, Chalyn, Justine and I tried to do was to limit the amount of “new” technology in our lessons. As Chalyn pointed out in her blog, we used Google Docs, Adobe Spark and Google Forms and Draw throughout so that students could master those particular technologies. However, each of us added something new to the mix for our modules to allow for creativity.  I allowed the students to experience the limited forum, Bookopolis.com where they could review books to share with a much wider audience than simply their classmates. I hit a few snags with this as I was using some fairly new Canadian books that are not currently on the American site. But Kari at Bookopolis helped me out and had the books added (all except The Giving Tree by Leah Dorion – she’s still working on that one for me… there seems to be a glitch in the system).

This entire experience has shown me that with enough forward planning and know how, I feel more confident with creating a blended learning environment not just for my students, but now I am looking forward to my staff.

Because we used Google Classroom, we have a classroom code to allow access to our module.  If you would like access to our Google Classroom, don’t hesitate to contact any of us and we will pass you along the code.

Once in Google Classroom, go under Stream. There you will find 4 modules for our Unit of Inquiry (basically the student’s activities and lessons) and under the About section, you will find our Course Profile (which includes our rationale, adaptations and our outcomes), a link to the OTC Grade 3 document, our Rubrics (which we used the Saskatchewan Curriculum Project Chrome extension for), and our Teacher Notes (how to teach the modules).

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I look forward to all the feedback from our fellow EC&I colleagues and I look forward to checking out all the amazing modules that have been created!

Cheers mes amis!

 

 

CC Image via Pixabay by OpenClipart-Vectors

Should Online Forums be Open For Business in the Elementary Classroom?

Last week in my blog, I posted a story of how a twitter exchange between a Grade 2 classroom and an author ended up in a pretty cool online sharing project. Twitter is a pretty open environment that has seen its fair share of negativity. And this may be why some educators shy away from using open forums and platforms such as Twitter with their students.

However, I do believe that by eliminating opportunities for students to connect to the outside world and discuss ideas, ask questions and learn from others is also hurting our new, online culture.

For this blog post, I’m going to do things a little differently. I want to explore the pros and cons of connecting students online in a more elementary setting (Grades 3-6) and look at different options for students to connect.

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CC Image via Pixabay by Mizter_x97

PROS FOR USING ONLINE FORUMS (mainly Twitter)

  1. Connecting to the experts. Using platforms such as Twitter, students can basically tweet out to anyone in any profession. Students can ask authors about something in a book they have written (J.K. Rowling, Peter Bently) And in some cases, their favourite characters, such as Mo Willems’ Pigeon.
  2. Following relevant hashtags. This allows students to “keep an eye” on events that show interest, without having to follow a lot of unknown people. Some examples are: #globalkids, #comments4kids and #photodujourmars )
  3. Students and classrooms can invent their own hashtags to follow a discussion and invite others to join in on the comments.
  4. Syncing Blogs with Twitter for maximum exposure. As students work on blogging, by syncing blogs to a classroom Twitter account will allow for a more open exposure to what they are writing beyond 140 characters.
  5. Students learn more about being in an online and open community and how to apply netiquette manners.
  6. Classrooms can live tweet an event that parents might not be able to attend. For example: field trips, concerts, plays, etc.

Some ideas came from the following articles:

Article 1; Article 2; Article 3

Now, these are only some of the advantages to using Twitter in the classroom as I am sure there are much more. But what are some of the Cons that scare educators away from it?

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CC Image via Pixabay by 3dman_eu

Cons For Using Online Forums (mainly Twitter)

  1. It would certainly be the “unknown” of Twitter. Teachers who shy away from using technology other than to research or type assignments often don’t understand how forums such as Twitter are used.
  2. Who is out there reading about us? If you follow pages such as Mashable or BuzzFeed on Facebook, you can almost guarantee a daily story about how Donald Trump uses Twitter to post controversial opinions and how celebrities berate him and “shut him down“using Twitter. Is this what we want our students exposed to – using an open platform to try and destroy someone else with words?
  3. Students who are not “allowed to be on the internet”. We still have a number of students whose parents will not allow them to photographed or named online. Twitter is too much of an open platform for some parents (and teachers).
  4. Does the world really need to see what we are doing on a daily basis? Is there too much exposure by using an open platform?

I’m sure there are also many more cons that come up with using Twitter in the classroom, but I believe these to be some of the main points (based on conversations with fellow colleagues and parents). But none of them deny that allowing students an opportunity to discuss what they are learning and to learn from others is a bad idea. So what are options if teachers are not comfortable using Twitter?

Closed or Limited Forum Platforms Similar to Twitter

  1. Twiducate: Twiducate calls itself the Twitter for Classrooms. I used Twiducate to do an Inter-School Novel study a couple of years back. My Grade 8 class and a class from another school were reading the same novel. We used Twiducate to discuss the novel and ask questions. Twiducate is a closed forum where students are placed into various forums. If you weren’t invited to the group, you cannot participate in it.
  2. TodaysMeet: This is more of a back-channel site where students participate during lessons. However, teachers could use it as part of an assignment where students meet with a particular login code to answer and respond to questions.
  3. Bookopolis: This is more of a limited forum. Here, students can discuss books they are reading to an open audience, however, students cannot reply to reviews and it is heavily monitored for appropriate use. This is one of the forums my Module Project group is using for our Grade 3 Treaty Education unit.
  4. Google Classroom: Google Classroom offers a “discussion” option when adding to the classroom. This discussion option allows students from the class to discuss a question or comment that the teacher posts. Only students from the class can post to this questions.

Regardless of whether you fully embrace open platforms such as Twitter in your classroom or you prefer the more closed experience, teachers agree that students need an opportunity to share what they are learning and ask questions that allow their peers to reflect and respond.

The Fear of “Who Is Really Out There” In A Virtual World

I was drawn to Schwier’s post on Shaping the Metaphor of Community in Online Learning Environments because I believe that major learning opportunities are being missed when we deny students access to communicating with the online world. Schwier remarks,

Virtual learning environments happen when the process of learning takes place outside the boundaries of face-to-face contact, typically online. But environments are not necessarily communities. For a community to emerge, a learning environment must allow learners to engage each other intentionally and collectively in the transaction or transformation of knowledge.

I agree with his statement that environments are not the same as communities with regards to the levels of engagements and interactions with others. But their is still this underlying fear that their are more people on the internet with more intentions to do harm over good. I, however, feel that it is much the opposite.

Here is an example of how a simple Tweet changed a complete day of learning…

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“Twitter” by Andreas Eldh is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Grade 2 came to visit me in the library and we read a new and exciting book called “Those Magnificent Sheet in Their Flying Machine” by Peter Bently. In the book, some daring sheep borrowed an airplane and visited the world. They pondered visiting places such as Timbuktu, Kalamazoo and Saskatchewan. Well, the students were over the moon that Mr. Bently would include Saskatchewan in his book. After our reading, I decided to tweet Mr. Bently about how amazing his books were,

Well, he responded…

And his question…

Led to this “small” assignment from the class…

Even though the teacher did most of the tweeting, the students played an integral part in communicating with the author. How amazing to share their story with someone who is already established in the writing community. This could be an example of a “ringer” as described by Schwier.

When teachers choose to keep social media out of the classroom, what important learning opportunities are we missing out on?

Back to Schwier, our learners need to be able to interact with others outside of their everyday lives in order to be able to grow themselves. We need to be able to teach them how to be safe and smart online, but also how to access people that can help us online as well. But how to do we do this with such young minds?

Our module project is geared for Grade 3 students. We certainly are not going to set them up with individual twitter accounts and begin their digital identity for them. But I think it is important that they understand that there are safe places for them to discuss ideas, provide opinions and share with a much wider audience.

laptop-819285_1280One of the forums we discussed to allow students to share their ideas and thoughts is using Bookopolis.com to share about books they are reading. Last semester, I did a vlog about Bookopolis and how it can be integrated into the classroom. Because our module is based on the new OTC documents, and we plan to use literature as a resource to provide more information, students can use Bookopolis to share their ideas and opinions on the books they have read with a much wider audience then their peers in the classroom.

We are using the LMS Google Classroom to create our module. Within Google Classroom, we can create a questions that students can respond to and reply back to fellow classmates. This may seem more enticing to some teachers as it is a more closed circuit and can be monitored more closely than open platforms such as Twitter or Instagram.

However, if we want the class to reach a more open environment, Twitter would be my go-to platform. In this particular case, I would create a hashtag in reference to our module (maybe something like #SKFNpastpresent or #SKtreatiesprepost – obviously something to play around with). By using a hashtag, we can keep track of responses we get from the Twitterverse. I would invite a couple of students to ask an open ended question about what they learned from the module that day to ask out to my followers (or the class followers) using the hashtag. As the teacher, I would vet answers for appropriateness and share them with the class using Storify.

It is great when students get an opportunity to discuss with their peers about what they are learning, but I believe that by introducing them to a much wider environment (such as the world) their are plenty of opportunities to grow their community and their learning environments. If we begin to teach them at a young age about how to use the Internet for good, then that will last them their lifetime. But, if we shy away from it, then what are they missing out on?

A Tale of Blended Learning as an Itinerant Teacher: My Pass and Fails…

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CC Image via Pixabay by geralt

Did you note the plural on “fail” in the title… Yup, that was on purpose. As a classroom teacher, I really enjoyed using a blended learning approach with my students. I used a flipped classrooms for a science unit, I allowed students to use their own creativity to demonstrate knowledge of an outcome anyway they felt they could- most created a video or used PowerPoint while some wrote and essay or did a live presentation. But my teaching assignment has changed and I find that incorporating blended learning as an itinerant teacher has become much more difficult.

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CC Image via Pixabay by Couleur

The first big challenge is the lack of time I get with my classrooms. I see one group of Grade 4 students for 45 minutes a week – and well, let’s face it, it takes them about 20 minutes to log on to a device, find the right website or LMS I am using and then, after the plethora or questions that tend to dominate the small group working on the device, I still have the other students seeking help – and now their classroom teacher is at the door ready to receive her students back. “Okay mes amis, we will pick up from where we were next week!” And so I start all over, again.

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CC Image via Pixabay by OpenClipart_Vectors

The next big challenge is finding the support in the classroom. If I am working with a teacher who does not use technology in any way in the classroom (for various, but usually obvious reasons), the students are not able to function with the technology because they don’t necessarily have the “know how”.  And once I finally get it going, my time with that particular class is up. See you all next week…

I won’t say this is the last challenge, because we all know their are many more new and exciting challenges ahead in our careers, but my final challenge for this blog is delivery. Every teacher uses technology differently. Some use LMS platforms, other simply use one function online (Google Docs or web searches) and others are fully integrated. My favourite thing to hear is “Well, our teacher doesn’t want us to use Google Translate.” or “We don’t use Google Classroom because our teacher thinks it’s too complicated.” As an itinerant teacher, I try very hard to keep things as “normal” in the classroom as their teacher. I follow the same expectations or rules that the regular classroom teacher sets up, I make sure the same routines are followed and I try to make my entrance to the class as seamless as possible. But sometimes I can’t quite seem to get past the “Well, our teacher…”. I want to scream “DO I LOOK LIKE YOUR TEACHER?”  Of course I don’t scream it, my internal monologue is screaming, but I feel like, as an itinerant teacher, what I want to do and what I’m limited to doing infringe on who I am capable of being.

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CC Image via Pixabay by 3D-Man_eu

Okay – philosophical rant is over! Let me get to the point of this blog. Yup – I deliberately started with the fails of blended learning as an itinerant teacher, but let me share with you a pass that I had this month! It’s Grade 5/6 social studies. Can’t teach the same unit to all the students because, well – those two curriculum are about as different as salt and oil. So, I did a lot of blended learning where I would work with one grade while the other accessed lessons and activities through our Google classroom page. We’d flip flop so that each grade got more individualized and traditional teachings from me, while the other group worked on honing skills. I decided that, for this particular unit, the students would write a test at the end to demonstrate their knowledge. Because I only see them twice a week, I decided to give them 7-8 different websites, YouTube videos or interactive games in order to do additional studying at home to compliment the studying we were doing together. Everything was laid out on Google Classroom. It was perfect!!!

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CC Image via Pixabay by eslfuntaiwan

Then came time for the tests! I decided – let’s use Socrative and make the test online! Their new feature allows kids to go back and review and revise their answers! On the plus side – Socrative would correct the test for me so long as I clicked on the right answer or provided it. It was glorious! Most of the students thought it was great! They felt that taking a test online was “cool”. I was happy to get instant results, I could see where each student was at on the test and I could see if a student was struggling with a particular question. At the end, all I had to do was click on “Finish Test” and “Download Results”.

Wait – only “most of the students thought is was great”, what about the ones who didn’t think it was great. Well, they didn’t NOT think it was great, blended learning is all good and all, but it isn’t the answer for the perpetual lazy student. The morning of the test, I was doing 8:37am supervision. A couple of students who were writing the Grade 6 test came up to me and asked “Madame, is their a re-write for this test today?” My inner monologue started up “A re-write? You haven’t even written the test yet? What about all the practicing, learning, Google Classroom sites I provided? Did you not study for this test?” Oh wait, that was my outer-monologue. “Sorry Madame, I didn’t bother with it. So, is there a re-write?” Right- that’s when my inner-monologue started, and I can’t type what I was thinking.

As much as I have plenty of love for blended learning, technology in general and the desire to make sure my students get every learning opportunity available, I find that, as an itinerant teacher, my hands are sometimes tied. I do try my best in the short bursts that I have with my students. And, slowly, more and more teachers are exploring new ways to incorporate technology into their learning styles, but as long as I am the teacher that only comes in once or twice a week, I need to make sure that I don’t overwhelm them with so much. In order for me to deliver what it is that I need to teach in the time I am given, I have to make some concessions and compromises. And that is how I continue to learn and grow as a teacher as well.

 

My Evolution of Media, Technology and Pedagogy in Education

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CC Image via Pixabay by sifpceuc

Growing up, I was fortunate enough to be attending one of the “newest” elementary schools in Regina. It had 2 gymnasiums, an art and science lab and a computer lab (although, that came closer to me being in Grade 6). Teachers would use different sorts of mediums to deliver their lessons. Most of the time, it was simply text, but every once in a while, they would wheel in the slideshow projector with cassette tape or movie reel.  Once the computer lab came, we would go to play some science games or typing activities.

In High School, we had the old Mac computers to do some sort of programming, the typewriter class where we created cartoon characters and the TV that got rolled in to the cafeteria so we could watch the Flintstones at lunch.

Personally, I don’t feel that those types of mediums made any major impact on my education and learning. I don’t necessarily remember any “mind-blowing” movie, or slide, or computer game that greatly impacted what I learned and, as “primitive” as technology seemed to be at the time, it wasn’t the way “things were taught”.

But let’s fast forward to 15 years ago. That is when I began my career in teaching. I had a Grade 5 classroom, no computer in that classroom, but our school had a computer lab. I had a slot once a week to take my students in to use the computers. But really, all we did was play educational software games. That is also the time I had to have my first Digital Citizenship lesson (even though I had no idea what that was at the time). My students were learning about web addresses. So one of my students thought she would try her name. She typed in http://www.kelsey.com and, well, even 15 years ago, porn was already prevalent on the internet. The screaming in the computer lab was quite horrific and I was certain I was about to lose my job. Needless to say, that was when I taught my first digital citizenship lesson.

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CC Image via Flickr by Luigi Rosa

A couple of years later, I’m teaching Grade 3 and we have the colourful Mac computers in the classroom. I used a great teaching tool (one that I still use today) called Kidspiration to introduce new concepts to the class and to have them work on creating basic computing skills (using a mouse, clicking, saving, etc). A couple of years later, those computers are replaced with the more streamlined Macs that also have a built in webcam. In Grade 3, at that time, I had no use for that Webcam, but a caretaker sure did. I would come into my room in the morning to find a post-it note covering the camera. It turns out, certain online dating sites allowed the computer to access the camera so you could meet your future spouse face-to-face virtually. Another lesson in Digital Citizenship for everyone at that time.

Skipping to the present, computers are virtually obsolete. Laptops and Chromebooks have replaced to the old hard drive and monitors of the past. Hand held devices (that I remember thinking back to in Star Trek the Next Generation were totally cool – and that I would never see them in my lifetime) are now almost considered a necessity in all grade levels. And cell phones – certainly a love-hate relationships with them in classroom settings. But how has pedagogy adapted to the ever changing incorporation of new mediums of media in society? What is the role teachers need or are expected to have when it comes to using them? Is there room for the “good-ole ways” of teaching?

Bates states that there are:

three core elements that need to be considered when deciding what media to use:

  • content;
  • content structure;
  • skills.

Regardless of if you are using a textbook, YouTube video or Educational Technology – there needs to be a reason for using it in the classroom. Either the content is relevant to what is being taught in class, the content structure is suitable for the given grade and the skills the students acquire will allow them to develop knowledge. So based on Bates’ views of the different medias offered in education, how am I using them in relation to his three core elements?

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CC Image via Pixabay by Unsplash

  1. Text

I’m a librarian. Text is my job. I am one who love to curl up with a good book and flip the clean, crisp pages to immerse myself into a new world. And working in an elementary library, my books have to be new because I know where some of those books have been.

For the past 3 years, our school has also developed an eBook library. Personally, I am not fond of eBooks as it is very hard on my eyes. But my students absolutely love have access to books online. Even my own children will grab their iPads and use EPIC to read a book before bed. eBooks have offered my students a new way to interact with literature and immerse themselves into books that they may have not grabbed off of a shelve for various reasons. Length and cover art are generally the big ones. Even now, almost all of Regina Public Schools textbooks come in eBook format which keeps our costs of replacement textbooks much lower.

I fully agree with Bates‘ assertion that,

We have seen historically that new media often do not entirely replace an older medium, but the old medium finds a new ‘niche’

We see that with the explosion of the popularity of eBooks and online textbooks, reading has found itself its new “niche”.

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CC Image via Pixabay by black_blue

2. Audio

…recorded audio, which I will argue is a very powerful educational medium when used well.

I couldn’t agree more with Bates on this matter. I, too, feel that audio is a powerful tool that is often forgotten about. Here is my reason why: My son is dyslexic. He has a very hard time with text in general, never mind some of the heavily worded text forms that often accompany typical Grade 8 reading lists. This year, he read The Giver and luckily for him, he was also given the audiobook to read along with. Having the audio with the book caused less frustration and more comprehension of the story. But my experience with audio, isn’t limited to my son, I make sure I have copies of audiobooks of favourites in the library to help my students that need some of those extra supports. And, as Kelly points out, there are so many ways that technology can help those with special needs.

Google Read&Write is another option to help with texts that normally wouldn’t have audio to go with it. Google Read&Write gives students an option to “listen” to text being read back to them in any sort of digital format.

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CC Image via Pixabay by geralt

3. Video

Where would my husband be without YouTube? He has learned to do so much based on videos uploaded to the mega-movie giant! I must admit, it has been a go to for me as well when it comes to teaching, especially in the core element of “content”. When I taught Grade 8 Science, hydraulic and pneumatic pressure dumbfounded me. After extensive searching and vetting of YouTube videos, I found a number of them that provided various explanations of how they worked to ensure my students learning was supported because of my lack of knowledge. As Bates suggests,

One factor that makes video powerful for learning is its ability to show the relationship between concrete examples and abstract principles, with usually the sound track relating the abstract principles to concrete events shown in the video

However, video, and mainly access to the wide varieties of videos, can, in itself, be overwhelming. Even in this class, I have sometimes spent more time looking for the “perfect” video and have spent hours for one 10 minute clip. Online videos have replaced television in my household. My children don’t spend hours watching the “boob-tube“, but instead, they are tucked away in a corner of their room watching YouTube videos. And I’m not always privy to what it is they are watching exactly.

Another concern with video is that the editing makes the videos more flashy and exciting. So when I share a cool video explaining a particular concept that is full of fun music, high energy hosts and a variety of graphics, how can I compete with that level of engagement?

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CC Image via Pixabay by StartUpStockPhotos

4. Computing

I was confused at first with the idea of “computing” as a teaching medium. I originally assumed it was the teaching of coding. But Bates cleared it up for me by saying,

  • it is a very powerful teaching medium in terms of its unique pedagogical characteristics, in that it can combine the pedagogical characteristics of text, audio, video and computing in an integrated manner;

However, he does outline a disadvantage that I am currently working on with my collegues:

  • many teachers and instructors often have no training in or awareness of the strengths and weaknesses of computing as a teaching medium;

All to often, teachers are thrown technology and said “It’s a great way to teach!” however, they are never shown how it is a great way to teach and nor do teachers have time to explore all the options with technology. I would venture a guess that most teachers in my school still use laptops and iPads as merely substitutions for paper and pencils. When the Chromebooks were introduced without the capability of printing, teachers couldn’t understand their use, if it wasn’t to simply type and then print. This small feature has forced the hand of many teachers to examine how they are using technology in the classroom and are embracing more computing skills into their own lessons.

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CC image via Pixabay by Tumisu

5. Social Media

The main feature of social media is that they empower the end user to access, create, disseminate and share information easily in a user-friendly, open environment.

Bates

There are great debates between many teachers about Social Media in schools. Some have embraced the fact that it is here and our students are using it, so why not make it into a learning tool? Other view it as the downfall of our civilization and just another way for students to either bully each other or cheat on tests.

I have been on the positive end of social media. I have had classrooms throw entire lesson plans for the day out the window because an author has connected with them via Twitter and wants to know about sheep in Saskatchewan. The class then created a report and request for a sequel where the sheep do end up in Saskatchewan. (Those Magnificent Sheep In Their Flying Machine, Peter Bentley).

I’ve used Twitter-like sites where my Grade 8s connected with another Grade 8 class across town on a similar novel study. They used Twiducate to communicate and discuss aspects of the novel with each other.

My library utilizes it’s own Instagram account where students can post book reviews to share with others who follow us on Instagram. It has been a great way to connect and communicate with others.

Bates discusses many advantages of social media and also provides some disadvantages of it as well. However, I think he missed a major disadvantage – most students (and adults) do not grasp an understanding of the digital citizenship piece surrounding using social media. Social media can be a powerful tool when used appropriately, but adults are still trying to figure all of this out. Yet our children are already using it daily (okay, hourly) and we still don’t all have a firm grasp of it’s power and influence. The latest trend is “Fake News” that has plagues social media sites and created false understandings of actual current events. It is imperative that lessons on social media go hand in hand with lessons on digital citizenship and the power they each possess.

Will Adobe “Spark” Something New For Me?

With this being my 4th class with Alec, I am always learning new things, but this particular week challenged me. I needed to find something “new” to try with regards to teaching with technology. A lot of the suggestions put forward by Alec and Katia are ones that I have already tried or am already using as often as possible. It was Jenn that inspired me. She has spoken quite a few time about Adobe Spark and I wasn’t all that familiar with it.

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CC image via Flickr by Vernon Chan

Bates wrote:

Different media have different potential or ‘affordances’ for different types of learning. One of the arts of teaching is often finding the best match between media and desired learning outcomes.

These particular sentences resonated with my own personal belief about teaching. No two children are alike, so how can we teach one way to all of the children? Back in my days (yup, I’m about to date myself…), we were only taught one way – with notes, worksheets and textbooks. That was fine for me, but, as I look back on my classes in elementary and secondary school, I can “see” the struggle that some of the students in my classes had. In elementary school, my particular group was known as “that class”. It was quite challenging in terms of behaviour. However, maybe it was because some students were never offered what they needed in order to feel successful. Granted, technology today allows for those students to explore more options in terms of what they need in order to learn. Today, I feel that it is my duty as a teacher to make sure I explore all different types of media that will allow my students to be successful. So I was up for this week’s challenge! I wanted to create something that would supplement our Module Assignment and fit a Grade 3 learning level.

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CC image via Pixabay by JeongGuHyeok

I thought I would put together an Adobe Spark Page that described how First Nations used all the parts of the bison. The Smithsonian Institution National Zoo already has an amazing, interactive piece that describes all the parts of the buffalo, so I decided to re-create it using Adobe Spark. I would have likely just directed the students to the Smithsonian link, but I knew that for some students it would be difficult to navigate the very wordy sections. Using Adobe Spark Page, I was able to narrow down the text to just the information they would need. Thankfully, the Smithsonian site has a great terms of use policy that allows for usage with proper attribution, which I greatly appreciated.

I did like using Adobe Spark as a teacher, but I feel it is beyond the capabilities of students younger than Grade 5 without a lot of help from a teacher. I chose to do an Adobe Spark Page because it had the most options I was looking for. I could make it interactive (links), it was visually appealing and it had more features to it.

Adobe Spark Post confuses me. From playing with it, I gather it is simply a “digital poster making” page. I did not see a use for it based on what I was wanting to accomplish.

Adobe Spark Video was my original choice. However, I soon realized that everything needed to be pre-recorded and saved to my laptop. I could not pull from YouTube and it would not connect to my laptop camera. This was a major negative for me. The editing features appeared to be easy to use, but unfortunately, it didn’t have the 1 feature I really wanted: to be able to record directly from my computer or pull video from YouTube. It would appear that I will have to have a chat with Stephanie to see how she managed it!

Adobe Spark Page is a new way to create a PowerPoint or Slides presentation. You do need to have a log in and password to access it, which is always a nightmare when working with younger students. However, as a teacher, it is a new way to provide information to students. The ability to share it with an online link or an HTML embed allows teachers to share the content in various ways with their students.

I would recommend that you give it a try and see if it is for you. I could see myself using it again, but it isn’t necessarily my first choice.

Parts of the Bison