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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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.

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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!

 

 

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

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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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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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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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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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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.

 

Learning the Past Using the Future

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This week, I received some excellent news! I was able to join a group of amazing and talented fellow ECI 834 folks to work on the online/blended course prototype project. Friday night, using Zoom, Chalyn, Justine, Aimee and I met to work out some ideas on what we wanted to do as a project. Very quickly, we sorted out that we were all interested in working in a primary age around the topic of First Nations, Metis, Inuit instruction. As luck would have it, this past summer, I worked with the Ministry of Education in the Office of the Treaty Commission on the new 2016 TreatyEd documents (that are unfortunately STILL in draft form) and we decided that this would be a good place to start.

After perusing some of the drafts, we chose to work on the Grade 3 document which leads with the inquiry question: How have the lifestyles of First Nations people changed prior to and after the signing of treaties?

We are still in the planning phases and, using the information provided in the document, we are brainstorming ways of teaching this using blended and online learning. We have already set up a Google folder and within it we have a PDF copy of the Grade 3 TreatyEd document and a Google Doc in place for us to record our ideas, questions, comments and discussions.

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The major first step is complete! Now comes the fun part about researching ideas, preparing the lessons and making it all fit seamlessly together! I’m really looking forward to this project and working with some amazing colleagues!

I look forward to seeing what we can come up with and what everyone has in store for their own projects.