Link

One of the first people I began following on Twitter was Dean Shareski. He spoke at a Sask Middle Years Conference that I too was presenting at. I will admit, he did a much better job than I did. Anyway, as mentioned in my last post, blogging was not my favourite thing to do because I was afraid of the big, blue “Publish” button. I have dreamed all my life of being an author and I saw blogging as a beginning of that for me. But that publish button scares the h-e-double hockey sticks out of me. Who really cares what I think? What happens if they hate me? What if what I say isn’t important? And who’s to judge that? Well Mr. Shareski, after reading you post – including all the fun comments- I feel more relieved and ready to tackle this blogging thing, however, I still have a ways to go. Such as: I know what a pingback is, but I have no clue as to how to do it…

Why You Can’t Click Publish  By Dean Shareski

My Final Summary of EC&I 831

Well, it has been a long, but most enjoyable journey. I have made many new connections that I have added to my PLN. I’ve taken my knowledge of social media and am introducing it teachers in my school so that they too can understand the importance of being connected. And I am now looking more closely at what Open Education means to education and how it can benefit me.

Thank you to all my classmates for their honesty, their sharing and their friendships. You have made this class all the most enjoyable!

Thank you to Alec and Katia for guiding us and being their almost 24/7 through Twitter and Google+ and for taking us on this adventure.

Here is my official summary of learning. I used VideoScribe HD for iPad to create this.

Thanks again everyone!

Why I Flipped

This years big buzz word in education is the “flipped classroom”. Edudemic posted the article What is a Flipped Classroom, where Katie Lepi outlined what a flipped classroom is and the advantages and successes teachers are seeing that are using them. As Katie explained, most edtech phenoms last about 10 minutes before the next trend hits, however, it seems that a flipped classroom is going to take more than the usual 15 minutes of fame.

Last year, I had a class of grade 7 and 8 students that I knew I could try out this new phenomenon with. I researched a lot of different ways teachers did their own flipping and found that the majority used YouTube. Now, I was not partial to using YouTube for a couple of reasons. The first being that I hate seeing myself on camera. But the second was somewhat more valid in terms of education. I had a SmartBoard in my room and a lack of text books. So I would often piece lessons together by scanning bits and pieces of textbooks to form a lesson on my SmartBoard. However, if I were to then upload a lesson onto YouTube using said textbooks, I would be in violation of copyrights because they would then be able to be accessed publicly. I’m not saying that I wasn’t already in violation, but when you have a handful of textbooks for a herd of students, we make due with what we can do.

This started a conversation I had to have with my students. I explained what a flipped classroom was and that I wanted to try it with them in our next Science unit. But because I didn’t want to use YouTube, we had to come up with another common platform on which we could learn the lessons. They suggested PowerPoint because they all had access to it. So I began creating my lessons using PowerPoint. With it, I could record my voice so my French Immersion students could hear the vocabulary and for those who were auditory learners, they could “hear” the lessons. I would then upload the presentations to our class Dropbox and then they would access it at home or on their mobile devices. But because the lesson was in Dropbox, it could not be “found” on the internet where I would have had problems with textbooks and infringements.

So what was included in my presentations to ensure students actually participated in them?

Each presentation came with 2-4 discussion questions. These were questions that needed to be discussed the next day in small groups. They required some further thinking beyond the lesson and maybe even a bit of research on the student’s part. In class the next day, I broke the students into groups. Each group had 1 leader (which rotated for every lesson) who would monitor and then give a mark on 4 for participation and French language. I would display the discussion question and the groups would then discuss it. Once they finished, we came back together as a large group to further the discussion. It was really remarkable how well this worked and the insight students had.

Once the discussions were completed, the groups worked on the questions that went with the lesson. They had the time in class, the ability to ask me for help and the companionship of their fellow classmates to work through some tough questions instead of staring at a text at home alone with no one to help them. This was by far my most favourite way to have taught a unit.

But really, what did the kids think?

At first they felt a little reluctant to try it. They were worried that they wouldn’t understand the lessons and wouldn’t be able to ask for clarification. I too realize now that I needed to allow some chance for them to ask questions, comment and share more of what they are learning at home. For this unit, it was done the next day in class, which wasn’t really optimal. Here is where I would incorporate the use of Twiducate. If I opened Twiducate for 30 minutes a night where I am online with the students that need help, they could direct message me their questions and also communicate with any other students who also happened to be online.

After the unit, the students also commented on how much they liked the ability to learn on the go. Dropbox allowed them watch the presentation at the dance studio or on the way to the hockey rink. Watching the presentation and not having to worry too much about questions and having a dictionary, calculator or textbook allowed them to feel more relaxed. Each student had the Dropbox app on their smartphone or iPod giving them full access anytime and anywhere.

They also loved the fact that they then had more one-on-one question time with me. I didn’t have to plan my lesson around how long I had to talk and how much time for how many questions. If I had done this unit the old fashioned way, it would have taken me at least 5 weeks. But having flipped it, I was able to complete it in just under 4 weeks.

As much as I loved the flipped classroom approach, I fully understand how this would not work with everyone. You really have to know your demographics. In certain circumstances, not all students have access to devices or internet, so they are automatically excluded from this form of learning. So if this doesn’t cater to the entire class, I’m not sure how a flipped classroom could be successful.

I am very lucky that the school I am in and the community in my school can support this sort of teaching and I look forward to getting more teachers in on flipping their own classes.

Another great trend that I am loving and playing with is infographics. Here is a great one on the hows and whys of flipping a classroom from Knewton.

All things come in 3s… Waiting for the other shoe to drop

This has been one of my busiest weeks yet this year. And to top things off, today, I am waiting for the dreaded “third thing” to happen. The first: all 45 shelves I had my husband cut for the teacher mailboxes – about 1/2 cm too long… The second: change out of my winter boots to my dress boots, only to realize I grabbed two different boots and both were for the right foot. Walking around all day in Winter boots got really hot… What could the dreaded “third thing” be…

After our extra blog session with the ever-amazing Sue Waters last night, I felt encouraged to start a blog for my library. The intent of that blog was to replace the old, difficult and cumbersome Board directed web pages they want us to use. Although I use WordPress for my personal blog, I wanted to try edublogs because I knew Sue would be wonderful to access if I had questions. If… too funny…

I definitely had questions and frustrations and then I think I just got too tired. I fired off an email to Sue late last night. When I finally checked my emails this morning, here she has gone and fixed everything I messed up. Now my library blog looks amazing and is about to be doing exactly what I want it to do!

I find as I play more with my Blogs, I tend to mess up more, but I try to approach it as a learning experience. And it has definitely been a lot of trial and error.

Anyway, on to the fun things that happened today. I love day 2 on the school calendar. My former 7/8 class visits in the library and I get to catch up on all that I gave up to be in the library. Today, I explained the Willow Awards to them. Next thing I knew, they had snatched up all the books they could. I then showed them a quick example of an Aura Book Review I did on the app Aurasma. They were hooked and couldn’t wait to start reading.

However, then the technical questions started:

1. Madame, if I create my own review, edit it and save it to Dropbox for you, could you use that on Aurasma? – my Response: “Uh… I’ll have to check on that.”

2. Madame, is the app only available on Apple products? – my response: “Uh… I’ll have to check on that.”

3. Madame, what happens when we have multiple copies of a book and they each get a different review? Does the app recognize smaller differences? – my response: “Uh… I’ll have to check on that.”

Needless to say, I wasn’t as prepared as I had hoped I was. I guess this lends back to my previous post about the new Digital Divide not being who has and who hasn’t got the tech. But more of who knows how to use it and who doesn’t.

 

Well Mr. Simon, what should a Librarian look like?

I am going to start with a funny, but true story. I was at a gala for the Big Brothers of Regina a while back. In fact, it was on the very first night of EC&I 831. At this gala, the table I was sitting at happened to win an auction to have Saskatchewan Roughrider, Mr. Geroy Simon sit at our table for the supper portion of the evening. We went around the table introducing ourselves and what we did for a living. Mr. Simon said to me “You don’t look like a librarian!” Funny thing, I get that a lot. I (all too quickly) quipped back, “Well Mr. Simon, what should a Librarian look like?”

me and geroy

The stereotypical view of what a Librarian should look like and what a library is is currently the bane of my existence in the school. I want to change the stereotypical design of what a library should be: a quiet place for students to take out books. However, making too many changes in your first year is difficult and I’ve been watching for toes that I do not want to step on.

The first thing I changed was some organizational spaces in the library. Baskets, basically. Nothing too exciting.

But now that all my book fairs are over (thank the good Lord above because I almost quit my job!) I can now get onto the fun changes I want to do. Phase two of library changes are now taking place.

The first part of phase two: Create a Twitter account for the library.

I hummed and hawed about whether I create a new account for the library or simply create a hashtag. Well, I created an account. Check us out @HawrylakLibrary. My goal for the Twitter account is to share new reads, new programs and new ideas with students, staff and parents that follow the library. I posted a picture of my Grey Cup book display, to which a student photo-bombed. At first, I was disappointed that I’d have to retake the photo because I didn’t know if this student could be on the internet. But after a discussion with said student, it turns out he is on Twitter already because his class is using it as a means of communication. The library got a new follower that day and he helped spread the word about the going-ons in the library. He also let me know that he creeped my personal Twitter account, @RochelleRugg, and said “You only follow a bunch of teachers. That’s not a lot of fun.”

The second part of phase two: Aurasma in the library.

Bad name, great app! One thing I learned from being a Grade 8 teacher is those kids don’t care if I liked the book or not. They want to hear it from someone their own age. I wanted a forum, so to speak, where students could review books and share it with other students. I was discussing this with a fellow “tech-geek” teacher and she directed me to the free app, Aurasma. Basically, this app allows a person to record a short, 3 minute video about anything. Once you’ve completed the video, you take a picture of what you want that video associated with. So, in the case of the library, it will be a cover of a book. When a student opens the Aurasma app and holds it over the cover of said book, the video will begin to play. Instant book reviews! I have the choice of keeping the videos private or public. If I keep the videos private, then students can only use my library iPad to view the reviews. If I make the videos public then any student can access it from their own device using the Aurasma app. Here is where I have to be careful. I have to know who can and can’t be on the internet. I think I’ve figured a way around this problem by one, not naming the student, and two videotaping just parts of the book while the student speaks. I am starting with the 2013 Willow Nominee Books and am hoping to start this project this week.

Phase three of part two: Digital Citizenship Workshops

In my last blog, I was quite dismayed by the lack of understanding of what Digital Citizenship is among students and teachers alike. Although I am no expert in it myself, I think that Alec’s class last week has shown me that I do know enough to help spread the word in and around the school. Although I am currently trying to work on Phase two at the moment, I don’t have a sample of what I want to do with my Digital Citizenship sessions. That will most likely come this week. I am hoping to do this using Livebinders.com.

I have a list of about 30+ changes I want to do in the library, but I think these three will keep me busy enough until after Christmas. My question to my fellow colleagues is what changes/improvements would like to see in today’s school libraries or what innovative and exciting projects is your teacher librarian currently doing that you would love to share? Is your library still the “Quiet and Read only” zone or does your TL encourage conversation and work spaces?

Teaching and Knowing: It’s Not Like Riding a Bike. Or is it?

Last semester I took EC&I 830 through the U of R that discussed the issues surrounding computers (and essentially technology) in the classroom. One of our topics of discussion was the “Digital Divide”. According to Wikipedia, the digital divide “is an economic inequality between groups, broadly construed, in terms of access to, use of, or knowledge of information and communication technologies (ICT)”. For example: Internet access for  first world countries vs third world countries. And within that division there is also a division of the people who have access to the internet: Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants. I am a Digital Immigrant – I had to learn about computers as they were introduced to the home. My children, on the other hand, are Digital Natives. They were born with the internet, computer and devices in the house. Kati Lepei, a journalist who writes for Edudemic, explains what and who these people are in her article: The Differences Between Digital Natives And Digital Immigrants.

However, Holly Clark, another journalist for Edudemic, proposes that their is a  new digital divide on the horizon. In her article, Do Your Students Know How To Search? Clark suggests that the divide is no longer “who has access” and “who doesn’t have”, it has morphed into more of a “who knows how to find the information” and “who doesn’t”. It is very often assumed by Digital Immigrants (mainly Teachers) that their Digital Natives (their students) know how to use the internet and access information because they were born with it at their fingertips. However, we were all born with access to bicycles, but I sure didn’t know how to ride one the first time I tried. I needed guidance from my parents and friends to learn. I think the same can be said for our “Digital Natives”. But the analogy ends here.

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo by dadblunders: http://flickr.com/photos/sahdblunders/8644936719/

Riding a bike was scary at first. Their was always that fear of falling and hurting ourselves. Our parents gentle encouragements and the bike “seat belt” that was Mom or Dad’s hand on the back of the seat are what kept us trying to master the two wheeler of freedom. The major difference between learning to ride a bike and learning the internet is that students don’t have the fear of technology that we teachers (and parents) have. Kids dive in, learn and eventually comprehend better then most parents ever will.  However, what kids “learn” on their own might not be the best way to find information. Don’t get me wrong, I love that kids take a lot more risks when it comes to learning new technologies, apps and web tools, but I also see how they don’t understand what they are doing on the web.

One of the biggest misuses of the Internet for students in my school is Google Images. Students think that, because it is on the web, it is free for them to use. And, when speaking with teachers, they too are of the same mindset: as long as it is on Google Images and the students “cite” where they go their work, then they can use it.  When I mention Creative Commons licencing, they shake their heads and have no idea what that means.

Another major misunderstanding of a great internet-based tool that comes up is Google Translate. This week, I was working with a group of Grade 5 French Immersion students. One asked how to say “death penalty” in French. Well, as it happens, death penalty is not in my daily French repertoire. I asked the student to open Google Translate and see what it says. Their was a collective gasp from the group “But Madame! Google Translate is bad! We’re not allowed to use it!”. This response didn’t surprise me, but it does irritate me. I gently explained that Google Translate is only bad when you get lazy and only want to write in English and then translate into French without reviewing how it was translated. When you need a word, or difficult phrase, Google Translate is an amazing tool. We looked up death penalty and world didn’t come crashing down on us!

If you still have students that use Google Translate to translate word for word all written assignments, share this video with them. It shows how Google Translate isn’t perfect and it’s easy to tell.

I sometimes feel sorry for the first digital native generation. They are having to cope with the teachings of those who are still digital immigrants with a fear of the internet and an ignorance of learning how the internet should be used. Although my colleagues call me the tech geek, I openly admit that I too am still learning how to navigate the internet properly.  I agree with Clark that there is a new digital divide, but before we jump to “who knows how to search for the best information” and “who doesn’t know how”, I think the divide is more likely “those who know how to use the internet properly” and “those who are still learning”.