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

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Learning the Past Using the Future

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CC image via Pixabay by geralt

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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CC image via Pixabay by congerdesign

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.

 

 

The Sofa Student

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CC Image via Pixabay by alphalight1

In 2012 I decided it was time for me to go back to school to pursue my Masters of Education degree. At this point in my life, my kids were 9 and 7 years old and my husband worked shift work. Classes being 1 night a week at the University was sometimes difficult with a young family and a husband who wasn’t always home in the evenings. I had to rely a lot on my parents and in-laws to watch the kids while I went off to school. The guilt was real.

When I discovered that I could take classes online, I was hesitant because I had never taken such a class but equally thrilled because now I wouldn’t have to rely on Grandpas and Grandmas while I took classes. I’ve had two types of experiences with online classes: Alec’s version and “the other kind”.

Audrey Watters wrote:

the original aspirations, even — of ed-tech: the idea that some sort of mechanism could be developed to not only deliver content — that’s what Edison imagines — but to handle both instruction and assessment.

In Alec’s courses, I feel that even though we are learning from the comforts of our own homes or classrooms, we still get the engagement piece through the use of Zoom. One aspect I do like about Zoom is we get to “see” the person who is talking and hear them. The content is delivered through screen sharing, slides and conferencing.  We also have the opportunities to use the breakout rooms and chat using the chat features. The use of Twitter, Google Community, Blogs and Google Docs allows for the assessment pieces. Plus, I get to sit on my couch, with a hot tea and my learning partner next to me!

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In my other class, we simply used MOODLE/UR Courses. There was no interaction, no set time and date to meet up and our only communication with our professors was through email. If you weren’t a self-motivated learner, this class had no appeal. The delivery of content was through readings, there was no instruction (other than the syllabus) and assessment happened with us turning in papers to faceless names.  It was not an ideal experience in my opinion.

So how about distance and online learning in the elementary classroom. Teachers nowadays feel as though they need to create a high level of engagement among students in order to feel they are reaching and teaching their target audiences. So can online learning or distance learning keep elementary students engaged?

When I taught Grade 7/8, I tried using the flipped classroom as a sort of distance/online learning tool. I would create a PowerPoint presentation (pre-Google slides era) of my lesson, record myself going through the slides, put in questions to ponder and discuss for next class and give the students the questions they would be working on in class. For my students who were heavily involved in extra-curricular activities, they enjoyed the fact that their only homework was to listen to a presentation and prepare to discuss certain questions in class the next time we met.

The downfall to my flipped classroom was it was a ton of more work for me. The presentations took twice as long as a regular class would be and we ended up discussing just as much in class when we next met. However, the one real big positive was that the students commented that they enjoyed being able to go back to my presentations for preparing for tests or doing projects. Even though they may not have understood the presentations at the beginning, they enjoyed being able to reference back to them later on.

I guess that is no different then what we are doing here in ECI 833. Just like my flipped classroom, when I need to refer back to class, I have the opportunity to replay it and retrieve the information I need.

I truly believe that, in a sense, with Google Classroom, we are beginning to see an amalgamation on Online/Distance learning with traditional school based learning. Students who may be absent for illness or vacations can always access Google Classrooms to retrieve content they may have missed (so long as they have internet access) and teachers can post from anywhere at anytime (say for instance – Hawaii…).

However, the use of technology for online/distance learning brings up another issue and one that is maybe for another blog post – what are the benchmarks students need to achieve in educational technology to be successful at learning online? For example “By the end of Grade 3 all students will be able to share a Google Doc with their teacher.” Amy Singh and I are currently on a committee with Regina Public Schools addressing such questions and working on Digital Essential Learnings that will be integrated into classrooms through a framework or continuum. As we discuss the use of technology in classrooms and outside of the classrooms, it is important that we remember that students are not born knowing how to use technology so at some point, we need to teach them how to use it.