Category Archives: Blog

EXTRA EXTRA read all about it… details about my LMS that is

Hi Friends, This week I wanted to give you a bit of a run down on how I intend to facilitate my Blended Course.  These are just my preliminary ideas and are possibly subject to changes, as I find I am learning more as I go. Sarah has some fabulous ideas in her blog this week in terms of establishing boundaries and participating for her older students.  Although, I think that working with young grade 3 students there is only a need for pre-teaching about “Netiquette” and digital citizenship

how to start a blog in 4 stepsI think for student/student-instructor interactions I will implement a blog. This form will be used so that students can publish their assignments and respond to readings or video’s. I think that once students get the hang of commenting on each others posts they will quite enjoy it. Although I believe that it may be difficult to create a community, this is something that the students have to do for themselves. Elizabeth had a great point when she said “we can try to foster a welcoming, open environment in which students feel a sense of community, but we can’t ensure this in all of our classes”. Image Source 

Choosing this form of student interaction is beneficial because grade 3 students are smart and full of great ideas and they will be able to share their thoughts with their peers online. Perhaps there is a way to moderate as the facilitator so that student blogs and comments can be reviewed before being posted. I also like the idea of commenting on students post, they will see that the teacher has read and thought critically about their post.

Cute small kid girl thinking holding the head. Isolated closeup potrait on whiteWhen facilitating an Blended Classroom I will make sure interactions between students and teacher are genuine.  I believe that awarding marks for participation is a starting point for students.  By encouraging participation with marks, students will begin to explore using blogs and commenting on their peers work and do so in a appropriate manner. This is the first step in meaningful interactions. Students will gain confidence by having fellow students reading and responding to their blogs. I think that both peer assessment and self assessment have value in a blended classroom. Elizabeth mentions the importance of teaching students to use pingbacks in their blogs as it “further encourages them to read other people’s blogs at their leisure and quote them in their own. It is important for students to read other people’s work, and to know that their work will also be read. This will help them see the value and importance of blogging, and the importance of reading something over before submitting it.” Image Source

I thought that I would check out the hyperlinks that were found in the document  Mastering Online Discussion Board Facilitation for some assessment ideas.  I was very disappointed to find out that all the hyperlinks that I tried were broken.  I think that it is very important when setting up a Blended Classroom for students 3-500x254to make sure that all links are working.  By not checking for dead links an educator can run into a lot of wasted time in terms of having students refer to a link provided.

Well this is my starting point, oh yeah and rubrics.  Have you ever used a blog platform in your classroom, which one?

EC&I833 Summary of Learning

Well another semester has come and gone and I was once again challenged to condense three months of learning into a 5-7 minute summary of learning.  I successfully met this challenge this semester with a 6 minute and 58 second videoscribe!

I wanted to try out a new tool to summarize my learning this semester.  I have seen a few whiteboard tools in the last few years and I have always found them quite engaging.  I’m not quite as ambitious as my friend Britt who did her very own whiteboard video by hand for EC&I831, so I decided to give Videoscribe a try.

I found Videoscribe quite user friendly.  I didn’t have the patience to explore every single feature, so I watched this tutorial video for a little help in creating my video:

Yay for online learning!

So without further ado…my summary of learning for #eci833.

(Neil Postman article)

Thank you to Alec and the #eci833 crew for a great semester!  Happy holidays to you all!



I have to admit, this week’s topic was one I quickly skimmed and skipped on the first day of class as we chose our group presentations.  I knew almost nothing about augmented reality.  The only inkling I had was that it was related to Pokemon Go, something else I have been scoffing at over the past four or five months.

30503663936_b4f17505a7Photo Credit: Paintimpact Flickr via Compfight cc

Well I can admit now, that I have not given Pokemon Go a fair chance, or a chance at all.  I apologize to all the Pokemon go-ers out there for my Negative Nancy attitude.  Logan and Bill, however, helped me understand augmented reality and virtual reality includes much more than Pokemon Go and gaming.  I have to admit, one of my initial thoughts within this week’s class was that I can’t post this blog post to Twitter because then my husband would read it and want to buy the latest and greatest piece of gaming tech.  Guilty!  And no Eric, you will not be getting an Oculus Rift for Christmas, but I’ll possibly splurge for a Google Cardboard.

This video really helped me understand that “virtual reality is a computer-generated environment that lets you experience a different reality”.  It is the creation of a virtual world that users can interact with, while augmented reality is the blending of virtual reality and real life.  McKalin explains a VR interaction through a completely fabricated world in which users are immersed while AR involves being in touch with the real world while interacting with virtual objects.

So with that understanding, Meron Gribetz is demonstrating the use of augmented reality because he is interacting in real life with virtual objects.

On the other side, the interactions that these loved ones are having despite distance is an example of virtual reality because they are created avatars within a brand new environment.

Once I got past the idea that augmented reality was more than just gaming, I came to realize that it has a lot of incredible potential within a classroom.  In fact, I realized that my students and I experienced and LOVED VR last year while on a field trip to the RCMP Heritage Centre.  I didn’t have a name to the technology, but my students were able to experience the Musical Ride through the headsets, while sitting on a saddle.  If you haven’t yet experienced this with your students or your own children, I highly recommend it!  The video explains that this is the only possibility that people actually have to experience the Musical Ride, within the Musical Ride, unless they some day become an RCMP officer within the ride.  This was an extremely engaging activity for my students to participate in and really helped them understand the Musical Ride.  As you can imagine, explaining “Musical Ride” to young students, especially EAL learners with very little English comes with confusion.  Within the Augmented Reality Teaching and Learning article from this week, Kloper and Sheldon are quoted saying that AR provides the ability “to enable students to see the world around them in new ways and engage with realistic issues in a context with which the students are already connected (Dunleavy & Dede).  The Musical Ride VR did just this…it enabled my students to see the world around them from a different perspective.

Within class this week, we discussed a variety of ways that AR and VR create opportunities for experiential, meaningful learning.  The Nesloney and Reede & Bailiff articles also provided many applicable ideas, two of which  I would like to highlight as upcoming endeavors within my classroom.

  • Book Reviews
    I loved Rochelle’s example of having her students do book reviews using Aurasma and indicating these books with an Aurasma sticker.  I have a student in my room who plans to complete book review as part of an enrichment activity.  He is a busy boy who loves to be active, and I think incorporating AR into this project will really keep him hooked.  It is my hope that he can then demonstrate how to do a book review to the other students.
  • Word Wall
    I have a few EAL learners in my room this year who speak very little English.  I have found it quite the challenge to support these students and begin to teach them to read when they have such a limited English vocabulary.  They are definitely progressing and know almost all of their letter sounds (thanks to Jolly Phonics) but it is hard to blend sounds together to create words (i.e. cat, flat, box) when all of that vocabulary is brand new.  Their vocabulary bank continues to grow but I do question if there are better ways that I can be supporting these students. (Please comment if you have any tried and true vocabulary apps/programs that would support grade 2 learners!).  I think it would be extremely valuable to label items within our classroom and around the school and have students record themselves saying these words in English.  I would like to use the Aurasma app to make a peer pop up on screen, reading the English word.

I do, however, think that I am able to consider utilizing VR and AR within my classroom because I within a very affluent community.  As much as we want to complain about poor wifi and insufficient log-in servers available, my students are very privileged to have access to the technologies present within our school.  I do not feel that I could as easily access some of these technologies in a school with lower income families or within a rural or remote community.  One of Logan and Bill’s final slides said it best when it claimed that AR and VR technologies continue to widen the gap.  They state,

“This solely enhances students who have access to a device.  Augmented reality completely revolves around having one, and more advanced devices lend itself to greater experiences…greater experiences=greater learning.”

Who is it that has greater experiences and therefore greater learning?  And more importantly, who isn’t getting these greater experiences and learning due to lack of access?  Reede and Bailiff claim that VR is a tool that is “bringing people from around the world to engage and interact-regardless of social, economic, or geographic disparities”.  I have to argue that those at a social, economic, and geographic advantage benefit much more from AR and VR than those at a disadvantage because they have greater access to devices.

So I ask myself…and you…

Can we lessen this gap?
Can we provide some students with VR and AR rich experiences guilt free knowing that others aren’t awarded these same opportunities?  What disadvantages are these students at within our digital age?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.


UDL=Greater Compassion and Understanding

Throughout this week’s presentation on assistive technologies, I found myself often questioning, “Am I doing enough to meet the needs of my students?”.  I found myself thinking that I really don’t use assistive technologies within my grade 2 classroom as many students have not yet received diagnoses at this point.  I think it’s a common feeling for primary teachers to feel that copious amounts of paperwork is done, observations are made and records kept, only to have students receive the necessary supports (technology and otherwise) down the road after they have already left your room.  In no way do I mean this as a complaint as it is absolutely my role to advocate for the needs of these children, but I suppose my point is that I don’t often see these “typical assistive technologies” introduced with my young learners.

Because the students I teach are so early in their formal schooling journeys, I do feel that it’s less obvious which students require these assistive technologies.  Let me clarify that I am not referring to students who have more explicit disabilities such as vision, hearing, or physical challenges (as those needs are much more visible) but rather, students who have learning disabilities.  I have yet to teach a child with a significant sight, hearing, or physical impediment but have taught several students who I suspect have learning disabilities.  That being said, a grade one or two child with an expected LD who struggles to learn to read isn’t that far behind a child in grade one or two who is learning to read at the expected pace.  It’s in the later grades, grade 3 and beyond that the gap becomes more apparent.

The article that Nancy shared within our Google+ community this week, as well as Nicole and Amy’s blog posts, really lead to me to view assistive technology in a different light.  I am using assistive technologies in my classroom constantly to meet the needs of my diverse learners, but I am doing this through more of a universal design for learning approach.

Within my class, some students use noise cancelling headphones, while others set up their “cardboard offices” to eliminate external distractions.

Some students sit on wiggle chairs or rockers, while others use a standing desk.

Some students use reading trackers while others are lie on the floor for read to self.

This week reminded me that assistive technology doesn’t have to be only this…

Photo Credit: USACE HQ Flickr via Compfight cc

or this…

Photo Credit: J P Davidson Flickr via Compfight cc

but can also be this…


If we are thinking of assistive technology as ways to assist the learning of students, then yes, Google Read and Write is assistive tech but so is my makeshift “butterfly-clip-pencil-grip”.  Hitchcock and Stahl state:

“As the concept of UDL gains acceptance, people will understand that assistive technologies are tools like eyeglasses and personal digital assistants that enhance personal effectiveness; they do not relegate their users to a separate category such as “disabled.”  Already, some of these devices, once solely linked to disability, are working their way into the mainstream community.”

I spend a lot of time each year discussing equity with my students.  Even at this young age, they can learn to understand that fair does not mean equal.  I find that through exploring children’s literature highlighting various exceptionalities and disabilities, students develop a great sense of empathy for those who may be different than themselves.  Words that are repeated tirelessly within my room are…

Different isn’t worse.  Different is just different.

I really appreciate reading Luke’s post this week regarding equity, metacognition, and student success.  Luke referred to having conversations with his middle years students about what success looks like for different people.  I have similar conversations with my students and we discuss how different learners need different things.  I am amazed at how compassionate and empathetic little ones can be.  In this day and age, when bullying seems to populate the media, there are also incredible cases of children being inclusive and understanding of others.  My students do not view a child needing an adaptation as any less, but rather, they understand he is just getting what he needs to succeed.  I do see a positive shift in that it is no longer only someone who is “disabled” that receives a tool to assist his/her learning.

So tomorrow, as I see the students within my school creating an essay using Google Read and Write, recording a journal entry through Dragon Dictation, using a pair of noise cancelling headphones, or simply completing a task in a “typical” manner, I’ll be pleased to know that teachers are working hard to meet the needs of these learners and despite challenges within students’ lives, these assistive technologies will help break down the barriers that could impede their learning.





A snapshot of assessment…or better yet, a camera roll!

Assessment…a buzzword in education that means so many different things.  Our class opened this week by the presenting group asking us to define assessment.  Words like tests, formative, summative, data, and reporting filled the screen but Amanda Ronan has a somewhat different definition of assessment:

“Assessment is the measurement of what students are learning.  Student achievement is defined as how well they’ve mastered certain target skills.”

My response in our class poll was “show what you know”.  I try my very best to incorporate authentic assessment practices within my teaching so that students have just this, opportunities to show me what they know.  This becomes challenging in a world of standardized tests and feeling the pressure to teach to such tests, but I’ve taken a stronger stance this year in only administering assessment that either further guides my instruction and my students’ learning (formative) or allows them the chance to authentically show what they know.

Now, as you may have already been able to tell, I have been known to go on a rant or two regarding assessment practices.  I have conflicting feelings regarding PowerTeacher Gradebook.  In one sense, it is great that as teachers we can be transparent and allow parents into our assessment practices.  It opens the lines of communication but where I struggle is what we are communicating.  Data.  Gradebook hasn’t allowed me to authentically and dynamically share my students’ learning and understanding (if you have tips on how to do so, please let me know!).  It allows me to grade to the outcome, which I do think is beneficial, but it is still lists of scores, whether they are As, Bs, and Cs, or BE’s, PR’s, ME’s, and ET’s.  Gradebook is product driven.  What Gradebook can’t communicate accurately is the process of learning.  The process of learning to read is magical, and at best, Gradebook can only provide a snapshot of what this might mean.

Photo Credit: Thomas Hawk Flickr via Compfight cc

I don’t want a snapshot of assessment, I want a camera roll.

I want parents to view their child’s learning and get an accurate view of their understanding.  I also want students to have the opportunity to reflect back on their work and witness their growth throughout a school year.  Those are two of the many reasons why my students use Seesaw for assessment.  I could go on for days with all of the reasons why I love Seesaw, but to summarize,  I am Seesaw’s #1 fan.  If you would like to read more, or more, or more about Seesaw, check out these blog posts.

The second reading this week, How Technology Can Change Assessment , suggests that we need to “use technology to change how we think about the function and reach of assessment”.  Seesaw has allowed me to shift my assessment practice to one that only assesses a final product, to one that communicates understanding amongst learning of  a concept.  Seesaw allows me to share our formative assessments so that parents can further support their child’s growth at home in these areas.

I do, however, feel that I may be blinded by Seesaw’s convenience and endless opportunities as I realized this week that I really haven’t tried any new assessment tools since starting up Seesaw within my classroom.  In order to continue demonstrating professional growth, I decided this week to take a look at a new tool, Plickers.

Tyson plugged this tool well in class this week as he explained that Plickers is free and doesn’t require multiple devices.  I also chose to use Plickers as I want to incorporate a diagnostic assessment tool that allows me to understand how well my students understand content.  My task on Thursday was to use Plickers to administer a “Synonym Quiz”.

I was pleasantly surprised at this experience.  My students answered about 10 questions, testing their understanding of synonyms.  The tool takes a little prep work as the plickers need to be printed and copied on cardstock or laminated to use repeatedly throughout the year.  I also had a few students draw on the plickers and found that they wouldn’t then scan.  Despite the few set backs, plickers was extremely engaging with my young students.  It gave me a really clear view of where my students currently are with their understanding of synonyms.  I see it as a great formative tool although I imagine it could be used as summative assessment as well.  I have already set up a second quiz on Odd and Even Numbers quiz to use to assess my students next week.


While reflecting on this assessment tool and the others I already utilize, I am brought back to the following quote from Ronan:

“After all, in the end, the problem is less the idea of testing itself, but how we design them, apply them, and make use of their data.”

Testing will always be an element of teaching, but in many cases, we have the ability to create and shape these assessment practices.  I want my assessment practices to create dialogue and lead to further learning, not merely take a snapshot from a particular experience.  21st century technologies help create this record, this “camera roll”.





Web 3.0…A Hesitant Change

A day has passed since our group presentation (huge thanks to my awesome group members: Kyle, Naomi, Angus, and Heidi) and I feel that I am coming down from the excitement of our #eci833chat!  Thanks again to everyone who so willingly jumped right into the chat, especially those who were brand new to the busyness of a twitter chat.

So…what is Web 1.0, Web 2.0, and Web 3.0?

Web 1.0=

  • static web
  • students consume content online
  • read-only ecology
  • goal is to make information available for Internet users

    A “good student”, according to Web 1.o, is someone who understands how to use search engines and uses the information from websites to enhance their learning.

Web 2.0=

  • dynamic web
  • students are producers, not simply consumers of information
  • read-write ecology
  • goals are to connect, communicate, and collaborate with others online

    A “good student” is someone who communicates, connects, and collaborates on the web.  A “good student” is someone who uses the web to create and share content.

Web 3.0=

  • reinvention of the web
  • community generated content
  • personalized, self-determined, interest-based learning

    A “good student” is someone who is a self-determined, interest-based, networked learner.

We see a paradigmatic shift from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 and 3.0 that mirrors the shift needed within the field of Education.  In Moving from Education 1.0 Through Education 2.0 Towards Education 3.0, Jackie Gerstein  states:

“The web influences people’s way of thinking, doing and being, and people influence the development and content of the web.  The evolution of the web from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 and now to Web 3.0 can be used as a metaphor of how education should also be evolving, as a movement from Education 1.0 toward that of Education 3.0.  The Web, Internet, Social Media, and the evolving, emerging technologies have created a perfect storm or convergence of resources, tools, open and free information access.”

How can we relate Web 1.0, 2.0, and 3.0 to the evolution of education? 

If we relate Web 1.0 to Education 1.0, we understand a “good student” to be a passive recipient of knowledge.  There is an all-knowing teacher or Internet that provides us with the knowledge we need to acquire.  But as we shift to Web 2.0, we see an increase in interactivity online where students are encouraged to communicate, connect, and collaborate.  I feel that in education, many have shifted or are in the process of shifting towards an Education 2.0 model of learning.  Learning is expanding beyond the four walls of a classroom or school building as students connect through social media, collaborate through projects locally and globally, as well as create learning communities online.  With Education 2.0, we see a shift from a behaviorist model of learning to a constructivist and connectivist model where students are creating their own knowledge socially.  Further, as we shift to an Education 3.0 model of learning, we are beginning to see students using their networks and myriad of opportunities online to direct their own learning in individualized areas of interest.

But as we hope to see this shift to more collaborative, connected, and self-determined learning, we know that this is not the case everywhere and that in many cases, we are very much stuck in a “traditional” model of teaching.  Why is this? What is stopping educators from continuing to evolve?

My initial answers last night were a lack of PD and resources but my thoughts have continued to race since the twitter chat.  I am wondering if teachers’ hesitance to embrace more Web/Education 2.0 and 3.0 ideals has to do with a confusion of “teacher identity”.  Because the “traditional” model of school is so engrained within our society, maybe teachers are hesitant because they don’t understand what their new role would be.  Could the resistance to change and adapt come from a fear of not understanding a new role, a new meaning of “teacher”?

Within his post this week, Logan made the following statement:

“Progress and learning to best meet the needs of your learners is always paramount, students with more exposure tend to be more successful and privileged.”

The needs of our learners, those who now live in a world of Web 3.0, have transformed significantly since the days of learning off static web pages.  Now we need to understand how our roles change while supporting these learners.

This understanding could lead to greater success for our students.





Maybe the “social web” isn’t quite social enough?

This week we have been asked to reflect on our experiences this semester using online learning tools and discuss the impact they have had on our learning.  The three technologies/tools that have had the greatest impact on my learning thus far have been Zoom, Google/Docs, and Slides.

Photo Credit: KingTyrone Flickr via Compfight cc

This is my third online class in which we have used Zoom as a web-conferencing tool.  I have used Skype personally and within the classroom but have limited experiences with web-conferencing in general.  I appreciate the synchronous format of our @eci833 course and often feel that it is more of a blended course as opposed to an online course.  The personal face-to-face connections seem to exist regardless of the fact that we are many miles apart in many cases.  It is this synchronous feature of the class that leads me to state that I am a proponent of online education, as an adult learner at least (I’ll speak to this more in a few minutes!).  Our group has also used the free version of Zoom quite frequently while planning our group presentation.  This has proven to be a great collaborative tool that also highlights another benefit of online education, cost reduction.  Our group never met in person and plans to present from home the night of our presentation, saving our group members the time and cost of traveling to collaborate.

Like Amy, Google Docs/Slides have also had a great impact on my learning this semester.  Our group has co-constructed our group presentation using these tools, rather seamlessly!  This was my first experience using Google Slides and it was neat to see the contributions of 5 individuals coming together collectively to create a product.  I enjoyed the “comment” feature within Google Slides and was pretty shocked the day that Angus started live chatting with me about our presentation while we were both working on the presentation.  I hadn’t realized this feature was possible and it further demonstrated how valuable this tool was to our co-construct our project.

Using Twitter has also allowed me to connect and learn from those within this class and beyond.  Twitter has helped me shift my understanding of knowledge from content to processes and connections.  Our group presentation on Tuesday is going so speak of the evolution of Web 1.0-2.0-30 and how this should represent the evolution of education, so I won’t elaborate further at this point.  Rather, I would like to speak to a point within the required readings this week.

Both the Bonny Barr and Dayley & Hoffman readings led me to reflect on our role as educators past what one would think of as “traditional teaching”.  Yes, as teachers we know we need to cover the “content” mandated within the curriculum, but what other responsibilities do we have in this position of great impact? Barr suggests that it is a teacher’s responsibility to identify and address the mental health needs of students, and posits that this is difficult to do in an online learning context.  Dayley and Hoffman mentions student isolation and states that social interaction is an important part of a K-12 students’ school experience.  It is with these considerations that I find myself questioning the value of online education/distance education.

Undoubtedly, I see that online education/distance education has many benefits.  It can reduce the costs of travel and provide an education to those adult learners unable to relocate.  It can provide course offerings to students who may not have that course offered within their community.  It may also provide elite student-athletes the opportunity to train while maintaining their education or it could provide a sick child the necessary instruction in an alternate environment.  I think I struggle with the thought of K-12 learners, especially elementary students receiving their education through distance ed/online ed opportunities because I question whether their social growth is made a priority.  Dayley and Hoffman state, “to compensate for social growth concerns, many of these programs offer monthly or quarterly field trips”.  I know that so much of my time daily with my students is spent on building social skills.  The current theme within my classroom is acting with integrity.  We are having constant discussions about doing the right thing regardless of who is watching and this is deeply embedded throughout our daily curriculum.  Every day I am doing my best to model positive behaviours and my students are practicing these behaviours and learning from mistakes together daily, not during a monthly field trip.  I don’t doubt that online education teaches students important lessons like punctuality and daily time management, as the article states, but I do wonder how the lessons of integrity, empathy, and cooperation are taught when students are not learning together in a social context.

I definitely see the benefits in online education and can attest to this personally through my grad classes, but my thoughts remain conflicted in terms of K-12 education.  I can’t deny that there are many benefits to having these opportunities and they give opportunities to those who may not have them otherwise, but as “social” as Web 2.0 is, it may not be as social as a classroom experience.

Photo Credit: domit Flickr via Compfight cc

Tabless Thursday…I mean Sunday

Oh my…did this week’s blog topic ever come at a fitting time!  I have contemplated the idea of multitasking quite a bit over the past year.   A couple of semesters ago I read this article about busyness and the importance of doing less.  I vowed to “do less” in an attempt to be more productive.  Well the idea is great in theory, but then the reality of working full time and taking a full time course load hits.  It isn’t an option to “do less” when your to-do list is a list of “must dos”.  Believe me, my “want to do” and “should do” lists have already been erased…I would upload a picture of my messy house or the fact that I’m still in my PJs to prove my point…but that might scare you.

Getting sick this week hasn’t helped the completion of the to-do list and I’m finding now that my Sunday has become a, “run around like a crazy person, trying to do 15 things at once, in an attempt to get caught up” day.  I stand by my original thought that multi-taskers are really poor at multi-tasking and James Hamblin seems to agree.

“Am I developing some sort of inability to focus because I never focus on things?”-Hamblin

I have asked myself this question many times since starting my grad studies and I think in my case, it holds a lot of validity.  As a write this post, I have 9 tabs open and that seems quite low comparatively to other times that I am “working” on my laptop.  Just as Hamblin suggests, I sit down to write a paper and somehow within a half hour, often sooner, I have been lead down the rabbit hole of the internet and suddenly am finding the “best banana bread recipe ever!”  My never-ending to-do list isn’t getting done, and my stress level increases.  For this reason, I think that the internet has the potential to be more of a distraction tool than a tool which leads to productivity.

I think that the internet can and does lead to productivity, but the idea of multitasking presents a barrier to such productivity.  Jim Taylor suggests that what we view multitasking as, is actually serial tasking.  Taylor suggests:

“Rather than engaging in simultaneous tasks, you are in fact  shifting from one task to another to another in rapid succession.  For example, you switch from your phone conversation to a document on your computer screen to an email and back again in the belief that you are doing them simultaneously. But you’re not.”

I am a serial tasker, not a multitasker.  I try to convince myself that I am being more productive juggling multiple tasks at once, but my stress level says otherwise.  So in an attempt to eliminate my to-do list and reduce my stress…I am going to attempt Tabless  Thursday Sunday and single task for the remainder of the day.

Here is my to-do list for the rest of the day…yes, I recognize I think I am super-human and can get this all done…

-write #eci833 blog post
-read/comment on #eci833 blogs
-finish #eci833 group presentation slides
-create #eci833 twitter chat visuals
-write ed800 addendums
-do ed800 readings
-finish grade 2 math rubrics
-write grade 2 patterning comments
-find Remembrance Day art/writing projects
-revist today’s blog post about how well my day of “single-tasking” went

Oh, and I’ll try to eat a real meal in there somewhere, but not while doing any of the above tasks.  Remember Erin…single tasking only!

Stay tuned to my post this evening regarding how my Tabless Sunday went!

A tool within my toolbox

Seesaw is an educational media tool that I implemented into my teaching last year.  I explored and implemented Seesaw into my teaching practice as part of my Major Digital Project within #eci831 last Winter.  Here is a video summarizing that experience:

Seesaw is a student driven, e-portfolio program.  It allows students to document their learning in a variety of ways.  Seesaw allows students to “show what they know”, emphasizing the learning process as well as the final product.  Students use iOS or Android devices to take pictures, videos, or create drawings of their learning.  Students can also combine the features (i.e. take a photo of a non-fiction page and describe the text features by drawing on the image and recording their voice explaining what text features are evident).  There are endless opportunities when using Seesaw.  Several ideas, tips, tricks, and tutorial videos can be found at the Seesaw Help Center and from the Seesaw community on Twitter. Here is a quick video introducing parents to Seesaw journals:

Teachers have been using e-portfolios to demonstrate learning for many years.  The image of “traditional portfolios” make look a little more like this however…

prtfolioPhoto Credit: School House Christian Preschool

Seesaw is a 21st century version of the binder or scrapbook portfolios.  Seesaw has several positive effects on teaching and learning that the previous styles of portfolio may have lacked.  Seesaw allows students to capture their learning in a variety of ways.  Students are also able to share the learning process and document their growth throughout a school year.  The app is very user friendly for young students and students can upload their content independently.  Seesaw helps students develop 21st century skills and practice digital citizenship in a teacher-moderated, safe space online.  Students have an authentic audience and they learn to reflect on their own work. The app also breaks down the four walls of a classroom and allows parents to have a glimpse at their child’s days at school.

I am definitely a proponent of using Seesaw to document learning, but in the efforts to look at the tool critically, I suppose there could be negative effects on teaching and learning.  Because Seesaw is an online tool, there are privacy risks associated with using the tool.  Seesaw goes to great lengths to protect the privacy of students, and as a result, has all setting defaulted to private.  Teachers can then choose to invite parents to view the learning journals.  This is a safe space in the sense that the student, parents, and teacher are the only ones that can view the content but parents do have the option to share their child’s posts through other social media platforms.  If a parents chooses to share an artifact from the learning journal on his/her Facebook account, he/she may be compromising the child’s privacy.  But to keep things in perspective, I’m not sure there is much risk in posting a child’s reading fluency or explanation of a math strategy online.

Access is another issue to make note of when considering whether or not to implement Seesaw journals into your teaching. Even if the child has access to a device to use within the school, some parents may not be equipped with a device to view his/her child’s learning journal.  This student would still be able to reflect on his/her own learning within school but his/her audience would be reduced by the parents’ lack of access at home.  If all other students have involvement from parents through the commenting feature, the child who doesn’t have parental involvement may feel discouraged.

I personally feel that the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.  Seesaw has allowed me to support my students in sharing and reflecting deeply on their learning.  In one of this week’s suggested viewings, Mark Zuckerberg spoke to educational software.  He claimed that there is potential for people to now make great “socially designed products”.  I view Seesaw as just this…a socially designed product to document learning.  It brings learning to life and makes assessment authentic.

Have I won any of you over yet?

Technology is an Ally, Not an Opponent

We engaged in some interesting conversation this week with Katia regarding educational television.  Like Tyson, I have memories of learning to tell time with Lunette…

and meeting together as an entire elementary school to watch Book Mice on a TV rolled into the multi-purpose room.  Any one else have the privilege of enjoying this gem?

In the recent past and into the present, today’s children have before them a myriad of educational television programs to engage with.  Baby Einstein, Dora, The Wiggles, and Bill Nye the Science Guy, amongst many others, are shaping our children.  These programs undoubtedly are teaching our children, but does this come at a cost?

Postman wrote:

“…We now know that “Sesame Street” encourages children to love school only if school is like “Sesame Street.” Which is to say, we now know that “Sesame Street” undermines what the traditional idea of schooling represents.”

When reading this quote, I believe that Postman is addressing the fact that educational television can hold the engagement of young ones for long periods of time.  We’ve all seen those “go-go-go” children become entranced once the TV is turned on or when Mom or Dad hand over the Iphone and turn on Netflix.  Suddenly a high-wired child is still and engaged in a television program because of the high visually appealing experience.  Children are engaged and learning things like letter sounds, numbers, and languages when watching these shows but is the context in which they are learning them having an impact on their ability to learn in “traditional ways” once in school?  Does learning from a screen at an early age inhibit their ability to learn face to face with their teacher or amongst peers once in school?

My initial thoughts are no, but I do second guess this.  At times within my grade 2 classroom, I feel like I am exuding insane amounts of energy and enthusiasm, delivering content in creative ways or facilitating students in cooperative, participatory learning.  Some students still seem disengaged.  I can relate to Benita’s post where she refers to a PD session with author of Teach Like a Pirate, David Burgess.  Benita explained that Burgess believes you engage students by teaching outrageous…yelling, laughing, and making teaching fun.  I feel that I teach in this silly, outrageous way a lot of the time, but if I did this constantly, I would drop dead of exhaustion.  This makes me question…is it that students can only be truly engaged through either stimulating educational television programs or outrageous teaching?  I worry if this is the case.

We were also asked this week to consider the current culture of smartphones and the push towards BYOD and the integration of smartphones in classrooms?  I think that BYOD integration within schools definitely goes against the traditional format of school, but I argue that this isn’t a bad thing.  Whether we like it or not, the reality is that we’re teaching students who are digital natives.  According to Marc Prensky, “Our students have changed radically. Today’s students are no longer the people our educational system was designed to teach.”  AV technologies, such as apps and interactive educational shows likely do go against the “the traditional idea of schooling” (Postman), but maybe that’s exactly what we need to do….we need to go against the traditional idea of schooling.

I struggle with engaging my students without technology in a way that draws them in like technology does.  Technology clearly engages my students so maybe I need to use elements of technology to engage, to hook, and to enhance understanding.  Maybe I also need to examine what is is about technology that appeals to children, and transform more of these elements even into my teaching practice, even when technology isn’t utilized.  Is it the connective capabilities that draws students in?  If so, I can easily tap into this through other non-tech avenues.

In Roxanne’s post this week she mentioned how teachers vying for the attention of their students are always in competition with technology.  When dealing with a generation of digital natives, I feel that technology is always going to win if we view it as competition.  I think we need to start viewing technology as an ally, not an opponent.

opponentPhoto Credit: woodrowvillage Flickr via Compfight cc