Author Archives: jennyw1979

On Air!!!

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My digital project is complete. I had so much fun creating a podcast with my students. They loved getting to be a part of it and incorporate their own ideas. I struggled at first giving up control to the students but It turned out better than I could have even imagined!

The Start

I explained to students the intention of this project was to produce a class podcast. Before this could be possible we had to know and understand the mechanics of creating one. To begin my project I had my students listen to a variety of fictional and non-fiction podcasts. During listening times students completed worksheets to analyze the podcasts they were listening to. We would discuss what was good, what was not good, and ideas of what they would do differently. This brought good discussion and engagement into the class.

Getting Ready to Record

When we got to the stage of creating the podcast I gave students the creative rights. The first thing was coming up with a name for our podcast. They had lots of good choices and we created a list and then students did a “blind” vote on the one they liked. The name picked was Once Upon a Grade 6 Classroom. Now that the name was set they then were given an opportunity to create an image for our podcast cover. Students had a week to submit their pictures. Once again we did a vote as students preferred picking this way. This is the picture they choose:

Next was our intro and outro music for our podcast. I showed students Google Chrome Music Lab. I got this idea from Kat. She also created a podcast and used it for her podcast music. The kids loved working and playing around with different music sounds. One student created a rendition of Blinding Lights by The Weekend. He however copied it from youtube. They had to submit their song to me and once again we voted on the song we would use. Here it is if you want to take a quick listen!

Next students used their podcast planning sheets to come up with an idea and put their podcast scripts together. I gave them a few class periods to work on this. Then it came time to record. Students practiced their scripts and then I sent them off to a small side room in my classroom to record.

Recording with We Video

I choose to use Wevideo based on advice given to me by Amanda Brace. It turned out to be a pretty easy process for this. Students were able to navigate it easily, sound effects were easy to find and lots were available, and voices were fairly clear for recording without a microphone. The only issue was some classroom background noise but I realize that is inevitable.

I decided not to stream on the podcast platform so technically not really on air. I simply uploaded it to youtube. Therefore you will find it is not set in different episodes. These are the titles of the student’s work in order in the podcast. Unfortunately, I did not get all students recorded due to class interruptions and time but will continue even after this

  1. Top 5 Theme Parks
  2. Animals
  3. Teaching Ms. Weinrauch how to play minecraft
  4. How to tame your loud and wild students?

Hope you enjoy your listening experience!

Summary of Learning

I am very happy that I took Social Media and Open Education. I do not have a huge social media presence as it scares me to put myself out in the social world. I am glad that I was able to learn about using social media in the classroom as well as personal interests. I have learned the importance of teaching Digital Citizenship to help my students in order to navigate the social media world safely and be responsible. It was also a good reminder to myself and making sure the voice I am using online does not hurt or reflect negatively on anyone. The concept of Open Education was new to me. It was interesting to learn about it and different sites to help with my planning. Here is my Summary of Learning to reflect on this term.

Created using Canva

I liked using Canva until I didn’t…..

I enjoyed using my bitmoji for my video and the access to pexels and pixabay and other options. It has lots of great features and I feel if I explored the site more I could have found an even better way to showcase my learning. But in the process of making my video, I had to redo the audio many times. The audio files would mix and run into each other or would leave gaps and would not play properly. I tried using the adjustment tool which did not work for me. I had a tech-savvy colleague take a look but he could not figure it out either. I spent countless hours this weekend trying to fix it. I almost thought tonight (Monday) of redoing my project using a different platform. A few curses and slight tears I did one more try and thank goodness it worked!!!! I quickly downloaded it and uploaded it to youtube!

The Value of OER’s

OER (Open Education Resources) can be of huge value to educators in all educational sectors. As I was looking through the different resources I had to keep reminding myself to look at them in an unbiased way. I kept looking for things I would use in my grade level rather than education as a whole (Kinder to University). When I took this out of play I was able to look at the value of the sites differently.

https://www.pickfu.com/blog/write-unbiased-poll-questions/

Resource Overview

OER Commons – Public digital library of open educational resources

TEDEd – An education platform containing a video library to support learning.

Khan Academy– The site offers practice exercises, instructional videos, and a personalized learning dashboard that can be used by teachers, students, parents, etc.

Ck-12– Education materials for K-12, essentially a digital textbook covering many different subjects.

Pros and Cons

This list is based on what I thought when looking over the sites.

Why use OER?

https://courses.lumenlearning.com/suny-oercommunitycourse-understandingoer/chapter/sharing-and-promoting-oer/

OERs can be of asset to educators all over the world. They can expand a student’s access to learning. I have used some without knowing at the time that they were called OER. I used Khan Academy videos to help with teaching math concepts in online learning during COVID. I often use crash course videos in my instruction as I find they provide lots of information in an engaging manner. They do have their downfalls because they are free the content is not always of quality, curriculum content is often American based therefore lacks Canadian content especially in areas of history. I think as Canadian teachers we need to start adding to OER platforms! I will be sharing what I have learned about OER with my colleagues.

We Share Everything…or Do We?

The idea of sharing reminds me of Robert Munsch’s book We Share EVERYTHING. We tell our students the importance of sharing in school but then somewhere along the path of life the idea of sharing goes out the door. I also have seen Tik Tok videos where people are suggesting we should not teach our children to share but rather take turns. I am curious of peoples thoughts on this. Dean Shareski states “that teaching is sharing then if there is no sharing there is no education” in his video Sharing: The Moral Imperatives. He also poses great questions about sharing in the digital realm.

My Thoughts and Questions

If you have ever had pre-interns or interns? Did they ask you the question “Where do I find resources for my lesson”? How did you answer this question?

My Reply: There are no magic lesson plan books with everything laid out perfectly. There are no textbooks, not enough textbooks, or not enough class computers to access the Pearson etext that is supplied. So be creative!

My reply may sound a bit different now that our professor Dr. Alec Couros introduced me to Open Education. I have heard the term, googled it, but that was as far as I looked. In the video Why Open Education Matters, Alec posted, does a great job of summarizing Open Education. As stated in the video, “Education is vital, it enriches our lives” or that’s what it should be but instead, it is failing due to funding, therefore, lack of resources and outdated material. The idea of Open Educated is simple. It provides resources for educators around the world to share and for FREE!!!

Curtis’s blog post nailed it with his ideas on Teachers Pay Teachers and their no return policy. When I am tired of endless scrolling on google for “free” pages, I often go to TpT looking for material to use in my teaching. I look at the preview and think this looks good until you hit the pay button, download, open and the only useful page was the one in the preview. Anyone else feel the same?

We are all teachers and I get it as to why the site exists. The monetary factor is what drives it. Some use it as a “side” job to supplement their income. However, the cost of it is what makes the rest of us go “broke”. There are many creators on TpT who do post free materials and I truly appreciate it. But now I have a new tool to use called  Open Educational Resources Commons https://www.oercommons.org/.

I am sure I will continue to create some of my own work but I realize the importance of sharing it and not holding it for myself. Is there a “white board” as Dean Shareski states or group where we can share? I would love to pass on some of my generated materials I have created but then a fear of copyright pops into my head. I am always nervous that I am not siting things properly using images, or recreating someone else’s work not eaxctly but from their idea. Oh my goodness….please do not report me! or is this simply a remix like Lawrence Lessig Tedtalk called Laws that choke creatvity? Thanks to Lawrence and Creative Commons site he created I have a place to go with out the fear of infringing copyright laws.

“Great satisfaction comes from sharing with others”.

https://www.alllovemessages.com/15-sharing-is-caring-quotes/

Update 4: Getting Ready to Launch

We are continuing to listen to fiction podcasts. After listening to a couple we have had great discussions on the format and presentations of the podcasts. I was actually surprised that the favourite of the two fiction ones I choose the students liked the Story Pirates style and format the best over What if World. I personally did not like the “song” format of it and found it too busy and hard to follow along with what the story was about. The students found it to be entertaining and liked the way it was put together. In the words of some students ” I loved everything about it”. I honestly thought they would have the same opinion as me but maybe that has to do with our age difference. I wonder what you also think? Is it just me?

Podcast name choices

Last week I had the students also brainstorm names for our podcast. 10 students shared their ideas and then we did a vote on all 10 names. The three with the least votes we eliminated. We continued this process until we were down to three names. We then did a final vote and the winner and name of our future soon-to-be podcast is…….

https://howbadcanitgo.com/2016/01/28/drum-roll-please/

Podcast name

We are now trying to decide what our podcast cover will be. I feel I am running out of time to get the recording done so I can have a least 1 recorded podcast episode for the end of my digital project. I did not want to spend class time on this. I asked students if they were interested they could create a design on the computer and then I would share it with the class and we would once again do a vote. I have had 6 students so far participate in this and I am liking the ideas that have been sent to me so far. I am impressed, to say the least. The deadline for this is Friday.

Going Forward

Next week my plan is to have the students start planning their podcast episodes. I am giving them the choice of doing a fiction or non-fiction piece. I do question if that was the right decision or not and maybe I should have stuck to either non-fiction or fiction. I guess I will find out when the planning begins.

I am hoping to begin some recording the following week so fingers crossed I can stay on the timeline I have given for this!

Standing on a Soap Box: Activism

This week we were asked to read articles regarding social media activism and respond by thinking of these questions:

  • Can online social media activism be meaningful and worthwhile?
  • Is it possible to have productive conversations about social justice online?
  • What is our responsibility as educators to model active citizenship online?

I decided to write my post about whether social media activism can be meaningful and worthwhile. I struggle with this topic and have had many debates with friends over it. The easy part was finding articles. The hard part was what information I wanted to share about my views on Social Activism and the topics that are seen all over the internet. Activism is not new. It has been around even longer than the iconic “I have a dream” speech on August 28, 1963, by Martin Luther King Jr. Over quarter-million people participated in the March in Washington that day in support of racial inequalities. Although laws were put into place to end segregation during this time, issues of racial injustices continue today which include police brutality sparking the Black Lives Matter movement. These new issues are found on many social media sights and cause conflict over the posts. Martin Luther King ended his speech by stating “Free at last. Free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last.” People of colour are not free as they continue to live in a world of racial inequalities and injustices.

July 3rd, 2016 was my first encounter and knowledge of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. I am not sure I heard this term before. My brother, my son, and I attended Gay Pride in Toronto. As we were watching the parade, a float was approaching which was causing a lot of stirring and emotion in the crowd. I was oblivious to what was going on but the parade suddenly was stalled. There were people protesting on a float about Black Lives Matter. Smoke bombs were set off to try to get the float moving again. Justin Trudeau was not far behind this float which was important at this time for the LGBTQ+2 because he was the first Prime Minister to ever walk in a Pride parade. There were times that I was scared because it was getting worse with people yelling and throwing things. We decided to move away from the action in case it became more violent. Many people there were upset that this group took over the parade that was meant to celebrate LGBTQ+2. I felt I was torn about this entire situation as I was there to support my brother but also my son is biracial and I wanted him to feel support because this cause did matter. When we returned home I wanted to understand what this was about so where did I turn to, social media. There were many posts on social media such as Twitter about this event. I felt everything I read was negativity towards both BLM and LGBTQ communities.

This brings me to the question of whether or not social media activism be meaningful and worthwhile?

An article I read on Forbes written by Peter Suciu called Is Posting On Social Media A Valid Form Of Activism? talks about how social media has become a way for all people to voice support for a cause. The important piece of using social media is how the message or cause is being utilized. Activism is not about shaming or being judgemental of other people. Social networking can distract from important issues and not actually make a difference in the world. Suciu states “Social Media has become the new soapbox for those to stand on -but without the effort of actually climbing on a box!” I agree with this statement. It makes me think of the use of hashtags or the black out square that many people used during black out Tuesday in support of BLM. This shows that people often show their support through likes or shares or hashtags but do not take any meaningful action. The meaning is more valuable than the post.

Katia Hildebrandt’s blog post titled In Online Spaces, Silence Speaks as Loudly as Words discusses how educators often fear to speak out online on matters of activism because it can come back to them in a negative way. This is exactly why I tread lightly when I see posts about social justice issues. I become silent and don’t voice my thoughts in fear of getting in trouble. She feels if we remain silent about issues we are sending the message that “these issues are not important”. Although I agree with this statement it does not ease my fear of being vocal online.

In the last year, we have seen a rise in social issues blasted all over the internet. Kalhan Rosenblatt states in her article from A summer of digital protest: How 2020 became the summer of activism both online and offline, that 2020 was a “much-needed look in the mirror”. Since we were locked in our homes for months with people interacting mainly online this is where we saw calls to action take place. The terms hashtag activism, slacktivism, performative, or chasing clout were used to describe people who were given the opportunity to let you know their support but it did not go beyond a social media post. Some people used the platforms as opportunists and their support was not genuine or meaningful activism.

Social media can be a powerful tool and not such a bad thing. Social media activism can be meaningful and worthwhile if used correctly. Zora Khiry Why Is Social Media Activism Important discusses the importance of it to bring attention to movements all over the world. It has spread awareness and education on both social and political topics. She gives valid reasons for why social media is a good platform:

  • gives a voice to younger people to take part in social activism where previously they were not given the voice.
  • the power to be a public forum for the exchange of ideas
  • those often excluded from access and privilege
  • great equilizer
  • accessibility
  • inclusive space for converasation

To make social media meaningful and worthwhile we must be conscious of the source of information, not all information is good information, be intentional in what you are sharing and saying and also remember that the small things do matter.

Update 3: Listening to Podcasts

i-m-listening-podcasts-apps-for-kids.html

For the last 3 weeks, my students and I have listened to podcasts. We started with listening to non-fiction podcasts from selected episodes in But Why, Forever Ago, and Wow in the World. I picked episodes that I thought my students would be interested in listening to.

They were very attentive and listened closely. I had activity sheets for them to fill out during and after listening. We also pause and discuss ideas presented in the podcast while we listen. I am so happy they are engaged and enjoying the podcasts.

Examples of student’s work

After we listened to the non-fiction podcasts, students brought their own devices to school or used a school computer. They got to choose a podcast from one of the 3 podcasts we looked at. After they listen they filled out a Podcast Review sheet. The students then shared their reviews with the class. I was surprised that many of them choose the same podcast and episode. I thought there may have been more of a variety. The bonus was the class was silent for about 30 minutes!

This week we will look at Fiction based podcasts from Story Pirates and What if World. I will update you on how these turned out and if engagement in podcasts is still on a roll.

The Work behind the Scenes

I am currently creating graphic organizers for the students to begin their planning to record their own podcasts. I bought Listening to Podcasts and Creating a Podcast from Start to Finish by Teacher by Naptime on Teachers Pay Teachers. However, not all the pages were exactly what I was looking for so I am once again creating some of my own to go with the pages I feel will work well with my plan.

I also reached out to Amanda Brace by a suggestion from Alec and a couple other classmates. I asked her what was the easiest tool for creating our podcast and what do I need for a mic in order to record. Amanda as well as Curtis Norman (previous post) suggested WeVideo. I then checked out a couple Youtube videos on using it since the first attempt I was clueless. The video posted I found was the most useful and I was successful in making a practice podcast. I will continue to play around with WeVideo to hopefully have success when we record the real thing. Amanda also offered to zoom meet with me if I need any other help. I am feeling more confident in my project and look forward to seeing my end result!

Update: Major Project Kick-off

I have begun the work towards the completion of my Major Project. I have decided and will be sticking with the idea of creating a class podcast. I continued to read articles about it and have listened to a few podcasts other than the True Crime genre I typically listen to. My next step was looking into podcasts for kids to decide where we will go with this project. I went to the Kids Listen site and looked over the descriptions to see if they would be of interest. The list was a bit overwhelming as there are so many choices and found it difficult to narrow down. I choose 5 podcasts that we will explore as a class. I wanted a mixture of fictional and non-fiction podcasts.

  1. But Why – “But Why is a show led by kids. They ask the questions and we find the answers. It’s a big interesting world out there. On But Why, we tackle topics large and small, about nature, words, even the end of the world’.
  2. Forever Ago!– “But Why is a show led by kids. They ask the questions and we find the answers. It’s a big interesting world out there. On But Why, we tackle topics large and small, about nature, words, even the end of the world”.
  3. Story Pirates – “The award-winning Story Pirates Podcast takes stories written by kids and turns them into sketch comedy and songs. Made up of talented comedians, songwriters, and frequent celebrity guests, the Story Pirates inspire kids to create, bringing laughter to kids and grownups of all ages with hilarious sketches, catchy original songs from all genres, and interviews with the creative geniuses behind the stories… kids!”
  4. What if World – “What if a tiny dragon lived in my closet? What if there were a never-ending bowl of ice cream? What if cats ruled the world? Pirates, fairies, wizards, robots and more band together to help Mr. Eric tell wacky stories inspired by kids’ questions. Mr. Eric believes that curiosity and hope go hand in hand. Children who keep wondering can thrive when faced with new ideas and challenges”. 
  5. Wow in the World– “Hosts Mindy Thomas and Guy Raz share stories about the latest news in science, technology, and innovation. Stories that give kids hope, agency and make us all say “WOW”!”

Now that I have chosen the podcasts we will explore, I put up a bulletin board which caused a lot of buzz in the classroom. The students were super excited and became even more excited when I explained the project to them and the opportunity for them to create their very own podcast.

I created a Podcast booklet with various different worksheets that I created or found online for students to use in analyzing the podcasts we will listen to as a class or on their own. I introduced the podcasts to students by having them listen to a podcast and simply colour the cover page of their booklet while they listened. However, I realized the story I chose was too long and started to lose their attention. This will be something I need to take into account when choosing future podcasts. I also had them fill a short question page to get an idea of student interests in topics.

Example worksheets

My nexy step for my project is to reach out to someone for some guidance and support in creating the podcast. I have tried recording using WeVideo suggested to me from Curtis Norman. but I struggled and need some support. I was given a few names of teachers who have created podcasts so I plan to reach out to Amanda, Curtis, or Dean. Also Curtis N. gave me a great suggestion on a writing activity that he had done previosuly with his students. I stil have alot to do and more learning ahead!

Social Media: Toolbox of Choices

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The toolbox of choices is true! There are so many choices so I did many google searches looking for a tool that is interesting and would benefit my teaching practice and students’ learning. My first choice was TikTok however I wanted to look at a platform that was new to me and that I have not explored. Although I have not looked at TikTok as an educational tool but rather only as a pleasure I have decided not to engage further.

The tool that I choose for this blog assignment is Padlet.

Padlet is a collaborative online tool allowing you to share with students, other teachers, as well as parents and guardians. It is a digital wall like a post-it note where you can post images, links, videos, and documents. The best resource I found gives you 30 ways to use Padlet in the classroom.

30 creative ways to use Padlet for teachers and students

I have explored and tried out a sample of Padlet. It was super easy to use and the content was easy to navigate. Based on information in reading about Padlet and exploring the site I believe the positives outweigh the negatives in this platform for educational purposes. I am curious if anyone else in EC&I831 has used this platform before and what your thoughts on it are? Does it compare with the Pro and Con table I created?

Still not sure about Padlet this tutorial shows how easy it is to use!

I will be using Padlet in sharing my Major Digital Project and will also be exploring this platform with my students in the near future!

Major Project- The Hard Part of Choosing

I had a hard time deciding what to do for my project. I struggled between wanting to learn something new for myself or a digital project that involves the integration of social media in my teaching practice. I brainstormed some different ideas:

cliparting.com

Self: guitar, knitting, tarot card reading, energies of crystals

Digital: app, classroom blogging, podcast

I thought about the different ideas of something significant that I wanted to learn and then share my learning with everyone. I took guitar lessons when I was younger with little success. As an adult would I be able to strum some chords together? I consider myself to be musically inclined and thought this might not be worth my time and effort. Knitting was my other thought, but I am not that interested in knitting and I would lose interest very easily. I am drawn to tarot card reading. Tarot cards have piqued my interest in the last couple of years. I did some research on how to begin this process. After many google searches and reading up on the how-to, I feel I am not at the stage to begin this journey as it is a long one and not something you can just decide to do as it deals with tapping into your inner energy.

Photo by Danielle Rangel on Pexels.com

I then turned my direction to a digital project that I could do with my students. I have very eager students this year and thought this could be fun. An app or blogging did not actually interest me. I love listening to True Crime podcasts when I’m driving or getting ready for work in the morning (weird morning ritual I know). I think it is finding the answers to the events that I like. However, True Crime is not the best genre to work with students. The genre is something I need to figure out on the way with exploring podcasts with my class.

My first step was I sent out a tweet asking for good classroom podcasts. I received a few replies so I looked into them. I also spoke with a colleague about podcasts and she told me I should talk to our school librarian because she was doing some work with students using podcasts. Jara suggested some of the same podcasts that were recommended on Twitter.

I still have some planning and figuring out what this will look like before I jump into it with my students. I am hoping to begin the project in October and things run fairly smoothly.