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

To LMS or Not To LMS…

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CC Image via Pixabay by markmags

Let’s move beyond the LMS, back to and forward to an independent Web and let’s help our students take full advantage of it. (Audrey Watters)

Whoa, whoa, whoa… let’s back up a moment here. “Let’s move beyond the LMS”… how about we first realize that most educators in Saskatchewan aren’t even aware of what an LMS is! Heck, most of Saskatchewan’s educators are still “digital visitors” (My Dad, Web 0.1) and may just be getting used to the idea of how technology and learning management systems (LMS) can be integrated in to their classrooms.

That being said, I am not one of those teachers. I value the way that technology can enhance learning outcomes and how students can use technology in varieties of ways to express their learning.  This is where an LMS comes in handy.

My first choice of LMS is Google Classroom. The reason being, this is what is supported in my school division, so when I am in need of assistance when using Classroom, I have tech support that can help me. As Jessica pointed out in her blog, Google Classroom is one of the platforms that are really geared for ease of use and has lots of support in terms of teachers that are already mastering this platform. So this LMS is already top of mind when it comes integrating it in to the classroom.

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CC image via Pixabay by Wokandapix

Although we were asked to explore different LMS platfoms this week, I feel that if my division is already supporting one particular LMS platform, then I should be mastering it over learning a new one. And, after hearing the different reviews of fellow classmates reviewing LMS platforms (such as Canvas), I feel that, especially in an elementary setting, these other types of platforms are not cohesive to the needs of my students. Kirsten summed up my feelings nicely: it’s another LMS system to have to learn, where I am already comfortable with the one that I am already using.

So, what are my thoughts on Google Classroom as an LMS platform as an itinerant teacher in elementary schools? I fall back to Bates questions he posed regarding Technology Based Education (9.1.3) and adapt them to how I wish to use Classroom for my students:

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Here is how I would answer such questions:

  • I need and want to offer a program that supports all types of learners needs, especially when I am not always in the classroom with the students. And because it is a split grade group, I need to cover all curricular content for both grades. Google Classroom allows for independent learning and teacher led learning.
  • Factors that influence my decision on Google Classroom are:
    • It’s supported by our division
    • Chromebook carts so that students have instant access to it
    • Ease of use
    • Used from class to class, grade to grade (continuity)
  • Because students can easily access assignments and lessons online via Google Classroom, the role of classroom teaching becomes more open. For example, at my school, we tend to have a large population of students who go on extended vacations or visits to home countries. Parents always ask about “taking homework” to work on. With Google Classroom, students will always have access to assignments and be able to turn them in. As another example, an LMS platform like Google Classroom allows students to always have access to their work. No more forgotten assignments at home, or lost papers.
  • The question of the role of the educator can be addressed in all aspects of open and free access. The role of the educator has only shifted slightly. In elementary schools, educators still need to teach students to “find” appropriate and proper information on the free Web and analyze it critically. Educators must also teach students about how to use technology to enhance their learning.
  • When it comes to creating resources and using free resources, I am a believer that both could be one in the same. I don’t know why some teachers feel the need to re-invent the wheel, if what you need already exists. And, when using free resources, adapt it based on the needs of your students. However, should you have to create something, share it- there is always someone else out there who is also looking for it. In this case, an LMS is not necessarily the tool to use for sharing, but other professional LMS-like tools exist. Social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, provide many user groups to share and discuss.
  • The final question would apply, in my opinion, more to University teachers who are interested in MOOCs. As an elementary teacher, the need for me to create an open class for students in Grades 5 or 6 isn’t really a reality as of yet. I would open my lessons to my students who would be absent from class for reasons beyond my control so that they would have access to the lessons happening. However, opening it up to the entire world would require more thought and planning. Too many factors over privacy would come in to play, especially when working with minors.

When considering Bates description of Online Learning Environments in Chapter 6, he describes it as:

LMSs provide an online teaching environment, where content can be loaded and organized, as well as providing ‘spaces’ for learning objectives, student activities, assignment questions, and discussion forums.

I feel that Google Classroom does just this. Content is loaded on to students personal platforms based on classroom subjects and organized based on assignments. It provides multiple tools of learning (whether creating an assignment, posing a question for discussion or providing information) and also allows for immediate feedback between teachers and students.

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CC Image via Flickr by Wesley Fryer

Roxanne put it quite perfectly when she summed up that an LMS platform, such as Google Classroom, can

encourage students to be independent learners and to help them realize that technology can be beneficial to their education.

However, it can also be beneficial to educators who are looking to enhance learning opportunities for their students as well as themselves.