Google Suites & More

Credit

My school division does there very best to provide us teachers with as much technology as they can! In my own classroom, I have 5 Ipads, and two computers and a projector. In addition, my school has 4 computer carts in which teachers can sign out through a google doc—-which is funny, because google docs is going to be the main topic of this weeks blog! With technology we do have available to us, I have used google classroom in the past.

I have really really enjoy enjoyed using google classroom for many reasons. I used it mostly when I taught grade 7/8 however did have some of my grade ¾ class use it.  First, students loved going online and doing their work. The idea of going on a laptop instead of doing an assignment on on helped students be more engaged. Even if it was a topic or subject they did not enjoy, they would still put some effort into because it was on the “computer”. Next, I taught in a community school and many of the children I taught had learning difficulties. Many including writing. Google classroom helped them get their ideas down as they were able to type it, rather than struggle with writing it on paper. As well, students who had trouble with reading, there is something called read and write. Read and write will actually read what’s on the page to the students. This element was extremely helpful for those struggling readers.  Third, I was able to easily keep track of students work. Tracking the progress of students work and seeing where students are at was definitely a bonus. I used this information to either give students additional support, or to make something more challenging. In addition, when it came to marking, I could easily locate it and see who has completed the assignment as well who not. Lastly, I use google docs myself. I am a huge fan of it and have used it most of my university career. I liked that I could access my documents and presentation from any device. Overall, I have enjoyed what Google Suites has had to offer to me personally, as well my students!

In saying that, I would really like to try new types of technology in the classroom. In our own course prototype, we use something called Kidsblog. Kyla give a great description of it in her own blog. She describes it by saying:

Kidblog provides K-12 teachers with tools to safely publish student writing. Teachers can monitor all activity within a community of authors. Posts can even be public, but nothing goes live until a teacher approves it. Kidblog empowers students to write with a meaningful purpose for a real audience. Connect with other classes down the hallway, across your district, or around the world. Students practice digital citizenship within a secure environment. KidBlog is a new resource we have not accessed so we wanted to use something that was safe, free, and easily accessible for our students” (Kyla)

I think this would be an awesome tool to use!! I love blogging myself, so teaching my students how to blog is something I can see myself doing!

Flipgrid is another cool tool that I have used in a couple courses with Alec. One of my favourite parts about this tool in term of online learning is that it’s a great way to put a face to a name, and really get to know someone in an online format. Sapna discusses flip grid in her post this week and she described it really well. “FlipGrid is an easy way to pose a question and have people respond via videos. It can be used within many of the most widely used LMSs, so students do not have to set up a separate account on FlipGrid or navigate to a different place. Finally assigned teachers will give feedback and provide guides by tracing each students’ Flipgrid video” (Sapna).

Overall, I think online blended learning is super important important, as well incorporating some aspects of blended learning into a general style classroom. The benefits definitely outweigh the negatives if the technology is used properly in the class.

Thanks for reading:) I looking forward to reading your post this week.

Evaluation Reflection

Thank you to everyone who had the opportunity to evaluate our online/blended course. We were able to get some great constructive feedback and utilized it to make our blended online course even more engaging, and better than it was! Read below for our reflection:)

The feedback we are reflecting/commenting on included the following:

  • Does it excite students or engage them differently?
  • Does the complexity of what you are doing combined with three classrooms full of “strangers” have a negative impact on student learning?
  • What to do if people are not aware of how to use the programs?
  • Timetable for student due dates
  • Missing vocabulary (word study)
  • Add reference to YoTeach

Differentiated learning is a huge part of twenty-first century teaching. Typically doing Literature Circles in one classroom means that one teacher is in charge of 5 books with different groups in the classrooms. By having one teacher in charge of one book, this can deepen the students learning because it limits the amount of interchanging teachers have to complete. Teachers are not splitting their time up with each novel group, s/he focuses on one novel and the students within that grouping. Splitting the novel up among 3 schools allows for smaller groupings for teachers and students to work with. We could also include our teacher librarians which would allow teachers to have even smaller groups, this would also open up more book choices as well. This way if students need a challenge, teachers can add content, challenge the creative component, ask higher level thinking questions, or if students need some differentiation, there are several options we could implement.  Examples of this include: having audio books, using speech to text, or Google Read and Write(prediction tools, dictionary, etc.)

We do not believe there is a negative impact on student learning by working with strangers. We think this can engage those students who are introverts because it gives them a space where they can engage in conversations about their novel without the restrictions of being face to face. In addition, we feel that it provides students with a goal each week and there are specific apps that can allow us to view the progress of our students. If we see that a student is struggling with their online posts, individual teachers can speak with those students and encourage them along the way. With YoTeach for example, teachers can print out the discussion forum and you can track what students are commenting throughout each week. This can track student engagement and involvement. In addition, because they do now know who they are working with and who they are speaking too, they are more confident in terms of what they are sharing online.

Organization of structure for students could also be added to the course itself. Something like adding Google calendar would really help students stay on track as well to remind them on important due dates. Google calendar is super easy to use and could be accessed on a personal device as well online. It can be shared among all the members in the reading groups and anyone can be given the permissions to add to the calendar itself. As well, depending on the difficulty of the novel, a word study could be added to each module. Reviewing and going over important words that will be used in the chapters will help students comprehend the book deepening their understanding of the questions being asked of them. In addition, getting each leveled group together at the end of the unit would be a great culmination! Just being together and chatting with both the strengths and challenges of the unit can create some great, constructive, and important conversation between the students.

There are many different tools being utilized within this online blended course. If students have limited knowledge of these tools, mini lessons should be given prior to the beginning of the unit. This way, students will be confident using the different types of tools and technology being used in the class.  If needed, there are videos below that would support teachers if they were unfamiliar with the platforms provided.

Adobe Spark: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q2oyYMTjDQg

Yo Teach: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o6m6BErGnLU

Postermywall: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uwrSwNZoWDg

KidBlog: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sSQ_MXfPisw

Google Read and Write: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hwC_hJ7KmAg

YoTeach-  The Classroom teacher goes over questions that will be addressed in the live chat prior to the chat. This gives students the opportunity to see the videos, focus their thinking and then engage in the chat.  Teacher who is leading YoTeach then puts the questions into the YoTeach forum, then students answer them in the live chat.

We have completed more than the required modules for this assignment.  We hope that you can use what we have constructed and to continue to build on to it as we will.  Bullying is a topic that should be taught at all grade levels. We believe this unit, with different novels, could be used from grade  4 and up.

Thanks again,

Amy, Kyla O, Colette

Project-Based Learning…..

Much like John Dewey, William H, Kilpatrick believed in progressive education, or as Kilpatrick referred to it, the project-based approach.

I may sound silly admitting this but I did not realize there was so much research behind project-based learning. As well, the popularity of it all around the world. I guess I did not ever correlate

Dewey’s idea of progressive education to project-based learning. After reflection, I can see how the two are closely connected.  In saying that, Dewey’s (1938) idea of progressive education includes an “emphasize on experiment, experience, purposeful learning, freedom and other well-known concepts of progressive education….(p.3).”

Whereas, Katz and Chard (2013), define project-based learning as “an extended in-depth investigation of a topic, ideally one worthy of the child’s attention, time, and energy” (p.98).  With that, you can see how they can be related. Katz and Chard (2013), also admit

that projects can be done as a class, in a small group, or even individually. Prior to reading this article, it was my belief and understanding that older grades should more so focus on the idea of project-based learning. I had not really thought of or knew the benefits of implementing project-based units in younger grades. Most of my teaching experience includes teaching grades ¾. OF course, I have engaged my students’ very small and very structured projects here and there, but nothing too large, or purely inquiry based. I think my worry has always been that students need, especially at age 3/4, much more guidance and instruction, or as Katz and Chard (2013) refer to is as, systematic instruction. As well, the time it takes to do project-based learning has always been a concern for me. I usually asked myself… What if this takes to long? What if it does not hit the outcome I need it to?

However, after reading the article, I think I need to allow my students to explore more on their own, and let THEM become more of a facilitator when it comes to project time in the classroom. As Katz and Chard(2013) put it, “the teacher’s role is more consultative than instructional. The teacher facilitates the progress of the work by guiding and monitoring the children’s progress” (p.99). As well, I learned about the many benefits of project-based learning that students can experience in terms of academically. Katz and Chard(2013) also talk about the theoretical rationale of project learning.

The four learning goals, knowledge, skill, dispositions, and feelings are all skills we need to work on in the classroom as it is. For example, for feelings, a sense of belonging is HUGE in a classroom. Who wants to be in a classroom where they don’t feel they belong. Project-based learning can help students achieve this goal, whereas one might not realize it can.

I also appreciated how this article describes how to implement a project approach, as well the phases the approach consists of. Most of the steps leading up to the project including selecting the topic solely depending on the child. Katz and Chards (2013) state that “many factors contribute to the appropriateness of a topic. Much depends on the characteristics of the particular group of children, the teacher’s knowledge, and experiences related to the topic of his or her interests, in it, the local resources available, the larger context of the school and community, and the various mixes of all these factors” (p.103). This is my favorite aspect of the project approach. Students are able to be part of the deciding factor of their learning! When reading this I was trying to figure out how this would look in a young elementary classroom. As I continued reading, I realized that there was an example of what the project approach looks like in a kindergarten room. The topic was the experience of buying shoes. The teacher still had to organize everything, however, children were still able to choose one of five groups, all relating to buying and owning a shoe. She even had an opportunity for the parents to come in. What a great idea. I am always looking for new ways to engage parents in

my students learning. After the project was completed, “the children became interested in new kinds of play. They wanted to explore the bus travel that had begun during the shoe project as some customers “came to town” to buy shoes using the local transit system” (p.111). After reading this, I definitely have a more clear picture of how I can use this type of learning in my grade 3 classroom.

Overall, I have a better understanding of the benefits of project-based learning. In the future, I am going to try to be less worried about systematic instruction (within reason), covering curricular outcomes, as well as the time it takes to complete a project. I will more optimistic about all the possibilities and doors that project-based learning can open for our students.

References

Katz, L., & Chard, S. (2013). The project approach: An introduction. In J.L. Roopnarine & J.E. Johnson (Eds.), Approaches to early childhood education. New York: Pearson.

Dewey, J. (1938). Experience and education. New York: Collier.

 

Strengths and Misconceptions of Blended learning

This class have been great in terms of learning about all the online platforms that can be used for a blended course. I am always looking for new ways to incorporate technology into the classroom. Not only can I use these platforms to be an online teacher, but I can also make use of them in my current classroom. We have also discussed some of the strengths and limitations of online blended learning and the platforms. I stumbled upon a great article that addressed 8  strengths and benefits teaching taking and teaching blended courses. It was a great overview of what we have already learned in the class as well introduced a couple new ideas. The 8 benefits includes creating relevance, building skill levels, making mobile learning tools available, meeting individual student needs, setting goals, making instruction and content clear, creating authentic tasks, as well engaging disengaged students.

My overall favorite strength of blended learning is definitely being able to meet individual needs. Especially with the challenges classroom teachers are faced with today. I have had students in the past in which only could use a google platform for any type of writing an assignment. For other students, I find that technology enriches their learning and helps them become more engaged with the topic learned in class.

As well, another favorite aspect of blended learning of mine is the fact that it can offer much more than what traditional classrooms can. I could not agree more with Dean when he states “that In fact, an online environment could provide many opportunities that a traditional classroom just can’t afford. One such advantage would be the ability to work at one’s own pace.” As well, I appreciated Melinda comment in her blog about the pace and freedom in which students have when in a blended course. She states “the benefit of this online program is that students can study at their own pace completing an assessment at the end of each week. There is also a peer-to-peer system included, where they provide each other with feedback.” Great point Melinda!

Upon my research, I also found an interesting article about 6 misconceptions of online blended learning. One misconception I found interesting is that some people believe that online learning reduces social interactions as well reduces the amount interaction with peers. However, according to Dr. Tammy Stephens, “students in online courses designed this way frequently

report they have more social interactions with their peers than they do in traditional, face-to-face courses.” So therefore, depending how you set up the online blended course, students could actually spend more time interacting with classmates. Another misconception is that blended, hybrid and online learning are less work than traditional, face-to-face instruction. I can relate to this misconception. Prior to taking online classes in university, I always thought that online classes might be a bit easier. However, this being my 4/5th online class, I have realized that they are just as much work, if not more, as any other course I have taken in the past. Check out the article for the rest of the 4 other misconception. It was a good read.

Since we had a bit of freedom for this response, I decided I was also going to interview my friend about online and blended learning. My friend is in her 30th year of teaching and retiring this year.

She has taught all 30 years in the same school division I am working for. I thought it would be interesting to see her stance on technology, how she has used it in the past, and how our school division has supported the use of technology in the classroom.

Have you ever taken an online class?

  • No, but I don’t have enough self discipline to take one.

What do you know about blended learning?

  • Yes, I know what it is.

What are your thoughts about blended learning?

  • I think blended learning is better than strictly online. Because if there is something I can’t figure out what to do, and someone is only teaching me things verbally that is a problem for me.
  • I am a visual learner and I need someone there to show me what to do.

What technology platforms have you used in you classroom?

  • I have used google docs in the past to share information. That is about it

What technology do you use in the classroom?

  • Computers. I have students do research on the computers.
  • I use different websites to support numeracy and literacy in the classroom.
  • I also use Youtube for instruction.
  • Although I have not used computers much this year because last year my students were doing inappropriate things.

What is your favorite thing about using technology?

  • Having information at your fingertips for myself and my students.

How has your school division supported online learning?

  • They provide the computers for the students to work on.
  • They set up google accounts and login information.
  • They sometimes have online web seminars.

I really enjoyed that interview! It was really neat to get a perspective from someone who has taught for many years. I am now wanting to interview and ask more of my colleagues about their experience with technology!!

Thanks you for reading:)

An Alternative Way to Assess…….

Assessment FOR learning, to me, is the most important part of an assessment. Thinking back, I realized that I did not understand the value of assessment FOR learning during my internships and first couple years of teaching. It was not until I was actually  assessing my own students, and trying different ways to assess,  that truly learned the importance of it. Zhang (2016) describes assessment FOR learning as:

Assessment for learning is described as ‘noticing, recognizing, and responding’….These three processes are progressive filters. Teachers notice a great deal as they work with children, and they recognize some of what they notice as ‘learning’. They will respond to selection of what they recognize (p.258).

In terms of the article this week, I thought the study about learning stories and assessment Zhang(2016) conducted was impressive. The question “do ECE settings in NZ support the approach to assessment of learning taken by the ECE quality assurance authority of NZ” (p.255) was certainly valuable in my eyes. Why wouldn’t an educator or parent want feedback on the education their child is receiving. In saying that, I didn’t quite understand what the study was actually about until I began reading it.

I found it interesting that all of data collected was collected by himself. Phenomenographic interviews are extremely time consuming and difficult to decode alone. Zhang (2016), had several findings in this study and organized them in three sections, each with seven categories. The practitioners experience, parents experience,  and the ERO approach were the three sections. I will review some of the findings that stood out to me below.

One of the practitioners  admitted that “in terms of you presenting something the parents like portfolio books, they do, they like to see the pictures, they like to read everybody” (Zhang, 2016, p. 260). I can totally relate to this. Parents love to see their children demonstrating their learning during conference or meeting times. As well, another practitioner discusses how learning stories allow for great communication with parents as well captures important learning milestones. For me as a teacher, communication is the key to success for my students.

There were many good reviews from the parents as well. One being, “I think what we are getting from the learning stories is a wonderful documentation of her time at the kindy, something she would love to flip through, it’s colorful, it brings back memories” (Zhang, 2016, p. 261). There was no doubt in my mind when reading the article that the parents would have an issue with this assessment. Learning what their child can do and looking at their strengths can definitely be exciting for parents. Learning what their child can do and looking at their strengths is definitely be exciting for parents.

A few imitations were addressed in the findings. Four main consequences include that learning stories can be subjective, selective, time consuming, as well superficial. When thinking about someone assessing a child through a learning story, it truly is coming from one lense. Therefore, one can be arguably subjective and selective. Learning stories are also time consuming. This means that the time that a practitioner could be spending interacting with the child but instead are busy observing and collecting data. As well, “a lot of learning stories are very basic, you know it tells you what the child did in the sandpit, but it doesn’t go into the relationship, it’s about you know the relationship between the children and cooperation and the patience they have with each other, it’s all those sort of things, you need to look into deeper” (Zhang, 2016, p. 260).

Overall, I believe that learning stories are a great tool for assessment FOR learning. However I agree with Zhang (2016) that this should not stand alone when it comes to assessment. As stated in his research, there are many different types of assessment that should be used to assess our children. He states that “both the practitioners and parents regarded learning stories as an assessment tool that had both strengths and limitations, with the practitioners stating explicitly that there are a range of other ways that are essential for assessment of learning, and learning stories should not be treated as the only, or best, way of assessing the children’s learning” (p. 265).

OVERALL, I believe that  it totally depends on the needs of the child when considering an assessment!!!!! Do you agree?!

Thanks for reading!

The Importance of Documentation.

What does documentation mean to me? Well, to me, it is recording students knowledge in a variety of ways to see what they can do and what they know. So, basically, it is about collecting different types of data to ultimately see what students know.

After reading Rinaldi(2004) ,and reflecting on my own experiences with documentation, I feel like I have a much deeper understanding of it. Many aspects of documentation described by Rinaldi  were attractive to me. Some of her ideas I have actually have attempted to do in my own classroom (so it was nice to know I am not completely off in terms of documentation).

One idea I liked that Rinaldi spoke about is allowing children to have the freedom to explore and come up with their own theories. She states “making listening visible means to be open to the theories of the children. The elements of observation, interpretation and documentation are strongly connected. It is impossible to observe without

interpreting because observation is subjective” (2004, p.4).  Allowing children to do this is not

always easy as teachers. We have tight timelines and certain outcomes that need to be covered within a year. However, giving students that extra time to explore can have huge benefits as it is another way that students can truly share their knowledge. This ties into the next aspect of Rinaldi’s idea of documentation I liked. The idea that the  actually process of student learning is much more valuable than the final outcome or the final assessment. Rinaldi (2004), states that “from your documentation, the children can understand not only their processes but what you value as meaningful for their learning processes” (p.4). In my own classroom, I do my best to document their process of learning. For example, when working in small groups in both literacy and numeracy, I write notes about each student in a notebook every time I work with them. Once I get to report card time, I gather all my documentation and notes on the student to help decide on a final mark.

In terms of the  Dahlberg, Gunilla, Moss, Peter, Pence, Alan R  (2007) article, they did a fantastic job explaining the elements of pedagogical documentation. As I was reading chapter 8 and taking notes, I made a specific chart with all the elements of pedagogical documentation. Check it out below:

Elements of Pedagogical Documentation
  • Does not assume what the child does is a direct representation
  • Reflexivity and self reference
  • Process of visualization
  • Vital tool for the creation of a reflective and democratic pedagogical practice
  • Central role for meaning making
  • Communication, Interaction, and observation
  • Building relationship with student/other colleagues
  • Requires interpretive work and dialogue between pedagogues
  • Documentation can engage parents
  • Requires interpretive work and dialogue between pedagogues
  • Documentation can engage parents

Again, these were some of the main elements I picked out during the reading. Similar to Rinaldi,  one aspect of pedagogical documentation I really like is that it is the process of learning that means the most rather than the end result. “Pedagogical documentation’ as content is material which records what the children are saying and doing, the work of the children and how the pedagogical relates to the children and their work” (Dahlberg et al., p.144). I also like the fact they outline the importance of using a variety of methods to collected documentation. Audio recordings, collecting photos, handwritten notes are examples they gave.

One thing I took away from this chapter is the differences between pedagogical documentation and simply child observations. I appreciated that they included the section Why Pedagogical Documentation is NOT just Observing in this article.  I had not realized what the true difference was before and now understand that pedagogical documentation is a lot deeper than just the act of observation. “Dahlberg et al, (2007) state that, “It should not be confused with child observation. As we understand it, the purpose of child observation is to access children’s psychological development in relation to already predetermined categories produces from developmental psychology and which define the normal child should be doing at a certain age” (p.143). I feel as if those who disagree with this idea of assessment , have the notion that pedagogical documentation is simply just observing a child. Therefore, they would not think it’s a valuable form of assessment.

Overall, reflecting and engaging in these two readings was very informative for me. Reminding myself that it’s the process of learning that is most important for students was most valuable for me. As well, understanding what pedagogical documentation is made my understanding of documentation much deeper.

 

References

Dahlberg, G., P. Moss and A. Pence (2013). Beyond Quality in Early Childhood Education and Care: Languages of Evaluation, 3rd ed., New York: Routledge. Read chapter 8, Pedagogical documentation: A practice for reflection and democracy. Available as an eBook through the URegina library.

Rinaldi, C. (1994). Documentation and assessment: What is the relationship? Linked on UR Courses.

I learned about how to use POWTOON this week…and you?!

Wow, there are so many content creation tools! I am always looking for fun and creative ways to enhance my lessons in the classroom.

I like to try to incorporate new technology and new ways to present knowledge to my students. This way,  I can make sure I can reach all learners in some way. Once I am comfortable with a new tool, I like to let my students explore it as well. In saying that, I am aware that it can be very time consuming to do this for the a teacher. That is why I am excited to get this opportunity to explore a new one!

 

Out of all the wonderful options, I choose to check out Powtoon. I have never used Powtoon myself but have heard nothing but great things about it. I decided to download it to give it a shot to see how I would like it. Upon my exploring, I remembered watching a Powtoon video someone made for their summary of learning assignment last semester. I remember thinking it was pretty funny and actually, I quite enjoyed watching it.

After some investigation, I learned that the overall idea of Powtoon is to create or make animated videos or presentations. I picked out a couple strengths right off the bat. You can add several features into your videos such as music, voice recorder, and movement! You can also choose from a variety of presentation formats including and explainer video, marketing video, infographic video, ad, or just a blank Powtoon. Just for fun, I started creating my own Powtoon. It was super fun but I definitely need more  practice.

I guess one weakness would be that it is a bit overwhelming at first. I had to look up some YouTube videos on how to navigate the site. I think that it is going to take me a few tries to figure things out(just like any new tech!!!). I did appreciated how easy the the Powtoon dashboard was to work with. It included all the different templates, background features, characters, shapes, props, media, etc. Similar to word press, it is pretty easy to navigate to those main add ons. Another potential weakness I noticed is that there is a 3 day premium trial. I am wondering what all features will still be available after the trial. Hmm….

I definitely enjoyed investigating Powtoon. I think before I used it in the the classroom I would spend more time on the site! Once more comfortable with it, I think then it would be a great tool for students to use and

to share their knowledge with. As well, if teachers are looking for non-traditional ways to assess, this is a great option. Students who enjoy using technology might really excel using it. I also think if teachers have some extra time, they can create presentations with it. This would definitely enhance lessons and make them more engaging.

Have you ever tried Powtoon? Do you use it in your classroom? If not, how do you use it? How do you FEEL about Powtoon? What are your thoughts?