(Flip) Grid!

For this week’s task of exploring a tech application, I decided to learn more about Flip (previously known as Flipgrid). I have used Flip twice as a user and the experience overall was quite simple. When I was applying for the connected educator program within my school division, we had to give a 1-minute “elevator pitch” video that explained why we should be chosen to be accepted into the program. This program is offered for individuals who have aspirations to use technology to the fullest within their classroom. This program provides one-to-one devices for you and your classroom only. I already had an account made from this, and my video response was still saved from over nine months ago!

Flip is a video-based tool that allows for discussion across digital devices, but in a fun and engaging way that makes it ideal for use in education. I turned to Tech & Learning to learn more about Flip and all that it has to offer in the classroom setting. Flip can be used in any mode of blended learning and encourages students to use their voices to enhance their learning.

Flip is designed to help with group discussions. The ability to re-record responses helps take off the pressure, making this a very enabling tool for education. Students can also trim and edit their videos as well. This is very comparable to the video feature that my students use on Seesaw. Anyone with the link can respond to the topic created by the teacher, which opens up the floor for students from any classroom, school, division or even country to participate in the conversation as long as they have the link.

First, I created the group that my class is going to use. This is where I can find all of the different topics that I plan to use for my unit. You could create separate groups for each class or subject depending on how often you plan on using Flip.

This is what the home page of the group looks like from the teacher’s view. Once I created the group it gave me some cute cover photos to choose from and I was ready to create my first topic.

I will be using flip as one of the first digital activities within my course profile. Students will be given the link for this flip grid within their OneNote lesson. I want them to record a 1-minute video about everything that they already know about flight. This is to replace a traditional KWL chart.

Once I was finished creating the topic, it gives various options for sharing the link with students. It is integrated with Google Classroom and Microsoft. You can also share it with various social media applications as well if you wanted to get responses from the general public about a topic. I will be copying the student link into a OneNote lesson and distributing it to students.

When students are recording their videos on Seesaw I often will send a few students to work in various places in the schools where they can record in a quiet place without feeling as though they are being watched by their peers. I usually send them to the hallway, the library or one of the workspace rooms that we have to use. If students have headphones with a microphone attached it helps for better sound quality. I will do the same thing for recording Flip videos as well. When students record their videos they can add text, emojis and stickers to personalize their responses.

This program has options to like and comment on each other’s videos. I have turned off the comment feature because kids can unfortunately sometimes be cruel and right now I want to focus on recording their own videos first instead of watching and commenting on others’ videos. For my student’s privacy, I will not be sharing the link with anyone except for my students right now. I can also moderate and approve all videos that are submitted with my link to avoid posts that do not belong there.

Do you use Flipgrid with your students? What are some ways that you have connected with other classes or schools while using it? How have you incorporated it into your classroom before?

Mihial’s Course Prototype Profile

Target Student Population

My target audience for this course prototype is my current classroom of kiddos. I have 27 students in a grade 5/6 split (11 in grade 6 and 16 in grade 5). We are located at St. Bernadette School in Regina, Saskatchewan. I have been teaching there for 5 years and we are a connected classroom. We have one-to-one devices that we will be using for this course prototype. All of the student work will be completed on their devices, in the classroom. My students have been working to enhance their digital skills and this project will be the next step up for them. There will definitely be a learning curve for some, however, I am confident that most will be successful.

Course Format

Students will be completing this course through a blended learning model. It will be further to the left of the blended learning continuum with face-to-face lessons in the classroom while utilizing classroom aids such as learning management systems (LMS). All coursework will be done synchronously during class time.

Course Toolset

Platform: The platform that I will be using for my course prototype is Class OneNote. My school division already uses Office 365, so my students have easy access to this application on their Clever homepage. This Microsoft program allows my students to view module lessons and individually distribute assignments where they can complete coursework independently. They can also use an area called a collaboration space where all students can contribute to a shared page that everyone has access to.

Instructional/Communication: Students will be able to access their daily lessons on the subject tabs on the left-hand side of the home screen. This will then be broken down into lessons organized by topic and date where students can find a particular lesson. Within that page, students will find instructions, links to websites, videos, pdf documents, images, and tasks for students to complete. Students can complete their tasks directly on the page and I can view the work that they have completed from the host’s perspective. In addition, they can work in small or large groups within the collaboration space to complete group work and brainstorm ideas together. OneNote is flexible in that you can incorporate other websites with it so that students are staying engaged and aren’t completing repetitive work over and over again.

Assessment Tools: As students complete their lessons, I can view each individual student’s work that they have completed. I can type (or write with a stylus) comments on their work to give them both formative and summative feedback on their assignments. Student can upload their own documents to the OneNote page as well. They can create Word documents, PowerPoints, digital posters, voice recordings, and videos which can be uploaded for myself and the student to see. All work that is completed by the student is private from the rest of the class unless it is in the collaboration space.

Course Content & Learning Objectives

My course will be focusing on the Grade 6 Physical Science unit of flight. The main outcome that will be highlighted through this prototype is FL 6.1. I have also included all of the indicators from this outcome from the Saskatchewan Curriculum. I will pick and choose certain indicators as a guide for each lesson.

Flight 6.1 – Examine connections between human fascination with flight and technologies and careers based on the scientific principles of flight.

  • Observe and describe physical characteristics and adaptations that enable birds (e.g., ravens, hawks, loons, geese, hummingbirds, sandpipers, cranes, and sparrows), insects (e.g., mosquitoes, dragonflies, grasshoppers, bees, wasps, and butterflies), and bats to fly.
  • Show how First Nations and Métis art and storytelling highlight understanding of and respect for birds.
  • Research technological problems that had to be overcome to develop devices that fly (e.g., balloons, kites, gliders, airplanes, helicopters, and rockets) and explain how various creative solutions to those problems have resulted in the development of flying devices with different designs.
  • Discuss historical and current contributions of individuals, including Canadians, who have contributed to scientific understanding and technological developments related to flight.
  • Explain how inventions based on principles of flight have changed the way people work, live, and interact with the environment locally, nationally, and globally (e.g., bush planes in northern Saskatchewan, scheduled airline travel, supply of cargo to remote communities and mine sites, and transoceanic air travel).
  • Describe career opportunities in Canada related to the science and technology of flight.

Assessment Strategies

Students will be assessed on the completion of weekly lessons within the course. Some lessons will be completed individually, some in partners, and some in groups. Each lesson will focus on one of the indicators listed above. Each lesson will require some type of work completed by the student/group whether it is a typed, recorded, or uploaded response. Each lesson will be assessed on our division’s assessment scale provided below.

Scale from Regina Catholic School Division – Adapted from Edsby

Considerations

EAL – I have one student who just recently moved to Canada from Vietnam. I have another student in my class who is fluent in both English and Vietnamese who I lean on for translation from time to time. OneNote has the feature of using Microsoft Translator where the text can be read or listened to. She requires an additional explanation of lessons & tasks in smaller chunks that are simplified directions. I can modify her specific page so that she is working on what is appropriate for her due to the language barrier with access to the translator feature.

Adaptations – I have one student who is on a transitional learning plan (TLP) for math and writing. Specifically, with writing, she struggles the most with sentence structure and spelling. OneNote’s feature of speech to text is very helpful for her which is known as dictate. She can also utilize the spell-check feature to ensure her spelling is correct. Other students will also benefit from these features as well. Other students will also require more direct instruction when learning how to navigate the program itself. I encourage students to ask and help their neighbours when learning something new as well.

Digital Citizenship & Classroom Management – Students will be expected to follow the same set of expectations and rules surrounding digital citizenship and the use of our devices. We spend a lot of time reinforcing proper digital procedures to ensure we are promoting positive digital citizenship within the classroom. This includes a variety of different items such as privacy, security, cyberbullying, information literacy, etiquette, handling of devices, and approved school websites.

Attendance/Wifi – Students will not be expected to work on this course from home unless they are absent for an extended period of time. Students can access their office 365 account from any device using their school credentials and login information. In addition, students will be given ample time to complete their work within class time and we just received a new wifi booster in our classroom. This should help eliminate the slow internet speeds we were experiencing before Christmas.

Rationale:

I have chosen to use Class OneNote as my platform because I have a little bit of experience using it in a portion of my EC&I 832 major digital project. In this project, I explored OneNote, Canva, and Minecraft Edu for the first time. Within Class OneNote, I had students complete comprehension questions for a class read-aloud. This was a very basic use of OneNote as it was a learning experience for both myself and my students last year. I want to refresh my understanding that I already know and learn about the new and different features that I wasn’t utilizing then. My goal is to have more variety within each lesson and incorporate various different tasks for students to complete throughout the modules.

I decided to teach the grade six science unit on flight because the outcome specifically talks about human fascination and technologies used in the area of flight innovation. It seemed only fitting to use technology to do so. Also, I have pre-interns that will be coming back to join my classroom for the month of March. I thought it would be beneficial for my interns to see what a digital unit could look like in action with the subject that they will be teaching when they are here. When they are teaching they will be focusing on outcomes 6.2 and 6.3 of the flight unit. I am looking forward to my students experiencing their first fully digital unit in my classroom and seeing how it goes!

Blended Learning is a Heinz 57 of Technology in The Classroom

Blended Learning – What is it?

Blended learning is the continuum of face-to-face learning with synchronous and/or asynchronous digital learning as well. Some examples include classroom aids, flipped, and hybrid learning. Blended learning helps encourage self-directed learning and independence. It is not necessarily a 50/50 split but can be tailored to fit the student and teacher’s needs at that moment in time. As soon as you bring technology into the classroom you are essentially blended teaching and learning.

Personal Experience

By going off of my definition above, I have experienced blended learning for a good portion of my schooling. I remember in grade 7 our elementary school received one laptop cart for the senior end of the school to share. This was around 2007 when Desktop Mac computers were just beginning to be replaced with laptops and more access to devices in classrooms. I remember it being extremely exciting however we usually had to share a laptop with a partner, and everyone was saving documents to the desktop and USB sticks. The cloud certainly did not exist at this point. Digital citizenship hardly existed and it seemed as though our teachers were definitely learning with us in the moment. The fact that kids were typing on a white laptop also showed how dirty our hands are because they quickly become grey/brown. Throughout high school, we often used computer labs in various classes as well. My graduation present from high school in 2013 was a Macbook Pro laptop that I am currently still using to type this blog post! Ten years is a pretty good life span for Apple devices nowadays.

https://www.reddit.com/r/mac/comments/uvyg1v/
macbook_2007_still_showing_its_terrific_muscles/

The first experience that I can remember of a more traditional “blended learning” class was during my undergraduate courses at the U of R. Kin 180 – Human Development was one of the only classes that I took that was specifically offered as blended learning. We had two classes per week for 50 minutes each instead of 3, and then online tasks and discussion forums to complete asynchronously. As students, we quite enjoyed this model because it eliminated the third 50-minute class from our weekly schedule. This was huge when taking five classes that had both seminars and labs and I’m sure the professor appreciated it too.

Benefits & Challenges of Blended Learning For Teachers:

BenefitsChallenges
EngagementClassroom Management
Portfolios & CommunicationTechnical Difficulties
DifferentiationLearning Curve
CollaborationPlatforms/Cost
Data AnalysisDigital Citizenship

During the pandemic, my students were using their devices much more often at home during isolation periods and hybrid learning. However, this school year I find that students want little to nothing to do with digital learning at home as it equates to doing homework for them. Today, my students use devices every day in the classroom. We use devices throughout all subject areas and for a variety of different lessons, assignments, projects and reflections. Even though we have ample access to technology and platforms, my class still struggles with balancing technology enhancing their learning versus it becoming a distraction. Here are a few examples of what we use our devices for on a regular basis. This is not a comprehensive list, but these are a few of the main tools I use and some require paid subscriptions on the school and division levels.

  • Seesaw Digital Portfolios (Parents connected to student accounts)
  • Sora (Digital Library Website for E-books & audiobooks)
  • Mathletics (Supplemental math lessons connected with Saskatchewan Outcomes)
  • Canva – Digital design space for creating artwork, posters, slideshow, videos
  • Office 365 – Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Teams, OneNote, Outlook

What are your favourite platforms or websites that you enjoy using with your students? Let me know in the comments!

Photo by Julia M Cameron on Pexels.com

Welcome To The World of ECI 834

Hello everyone! Welcome to my online space where I will share my thoughts and ideas regarding online and blended learning with Katia’s class. For those of you who have never visited my blog site before, welcome! I enjoy sharing information that I have learned from class and my classmates as well as my personal experiences from the classroom, colleagues, and teaching over the years.

I currently teach grade 5/6 in Regina, Saskatchewan and I have been teaching for five years so far. My Twitter handle is @msmihial and I enjoy sharing things that are going on in my classroom and school there as well as topics we are discussing in this class. This is my fifth educational technology class and I have always enjoyed them because I have gained so much practical knowledge that I can use directly within my classroom. I enjoy using technology in the classroom and implementing technology use with my students in an authentic way that benefits their learning and supports various learning styles.

My personal experience with teaching online and blended learning are strictly thanks to Covid-19 protocols. I taught online from March-June of 2020, and a few weeks in December 2020 and April 2021. Additionally, I taught a bit of blended/remote learning in the 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 school years as well due to students isolating for multiple weeks at a time and being away from school for longer periods. This included sending home a combination of homework packages and digital assignments and trying my best to help students and answer questions over teams when I had the chance to check in on them. The platforms that I am most familiar with are Seesaw and Office 365 including Teams, OneNote, Word, Powerpoint, and Sway. In addition, I have enjoyed using Canva, Minecraft EDU, StoryboardThat, Mathletics, and Mathigon for supplement learning.

This year I am fortunate enough to have been accepted into my division’s connected educator program, which provides my students one-to-one devices in my room specifically from year to year. This allows for ample access to technology and I am looking forward to utilizing it for our Course Prototype Development assignment.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Week 13: Summary of Learning

That’s a wrap on the semester! The video below contains my Summary of Learning. Feel free to take a look at a few of the behind the scenes photos further down the page, as well!

Thank you all for a great semester, and best of luck with the rest of your programs!

-Colton

I used Fusion360 to create the 3D Models, and Cura to slice the models (transform them into code that the printer can understand.)

Week 12: Alternate Realities!

Augmented, mixed, and virtual realities provide incredible potential for interesting and engaging learning experiences. As technology increases, particularly in rarity and price, learning experiences can also increase. However, this is often only for those that can afford it.  

Read more: Week 12: Alternate Realities!

I find these technologies extremely interesting, and I certainly would be interested in experimenting with using them within the classroom. However, as the presenting group mentioned, any discussion of these topics requires an understanding of the difference between Virtual, Augmented, and Mixed realities. The basic defining characteristics of each are seen in the image below.

My own experience is very brief, starting with something fairly basic, yet oddly futuristic, Google Cardboard. This was an accessible* ($10-20, yet you need your own smartphone) VR Experience that was released in 2014. Receiving one during Christmas of 2015, I was able to use my phone to experience VR for the first time. It was truly a wild thing to experience for the first time, as I was able to explore 360-degree videos from all over the world, with a feeling of immersion that I had never experienced before. From there, I also have limited experiences Beat Saber on a friends PlayStation, while also exploring augmented reality in Pokémon Go.  

Within the classroom however, I haven’t had the chance to experience using these technologies with students. I’ve heard whispers of our school division potentially buying some and will be quick to sign up if that happens. I see many potential opportunities, particularly for my Social Studies and Drafting students. It would be incredibly engaging to allow my students to virtually visit the coast of France when we are talking about the Second World War, or vising cities from around the world when we do our project on Cultures of the World. How cool would it be to put on a headset, and virtually visit cities like Beijing, Rio De Janeiro, Berlin, or Cape Town?

Furthermore, particularly for my Drafting students that work on architecture, imagine putting on the headset to experience the scale and beauty of buildings like the Sydney Opera House, the Burj Khalifa, the CN Tower, or the Taj Mahal?

Also, although it’s not first-hand knowledge, I have heard about a community organization that comes into our school and allows students to try various job simulators, using a VR headset. Learning how to operate a crane, heavy machinery, or work as an electrician, seem like great way to utilize this technology. Giving students opportunities that they wouldn’t be able to enjoy otherwise is a hugely understated benefit to this technology.

While I am personally interested in this, I’m a bit on the fence about how far I would go to integrate it into my classroom. Through one of our suggested viewings for this week, we were able to experience how a teacher has designed a probability lesson within the virtual world of the game Half-Life. Again, I am definitely interested in this, but the practical side of my brain wonders if it would be beneficial to do once or twice a semester, rather than utilize it has a regular teaching tool. Thinking back to the SAMR model, and meaningful integration of technology, I’m wondering if the effort and set-up time would be beneficial over other methods of teaching the same content. Another one of our suggested readings tried to measure this, utilizing an experiment that measured the difference in the teaching of a science lesson. Separate groups were taught with video, or instead with ‘immersive virtual reality.’ The research team saw mixed results and concluded that learning in virtual reality is not more effective than learning with video. However, the authors also state something that we’ve been discussing all semester.

“The results suggest that the value of IVR (immersive virtual reality) for learning science depends on how it is integrated into a classroom lesson.”

(Makransky, et. al., 2021)

The other issue with this and all emerging, expensive, or rate technologies, is the potential to further the digital divide. These technologies aren’t available to everyone. Access is dependent on the ability to acquire a smartphone at the very least, or a powerful computer or gaming system on the higher end. We must remain cognizant of how access to these technologies will affect our students, particularly when it comes to our decisions about bringing them into our classrooms.

Photo by Jessica Lewis Creative on Pexels.com

Have you had a great experience with VR/MR/AR in the classroom? Let me know about it! I’m looking forward to the day where I can bring them into my classroom and get some first hand experience.

AR VR MR – Week 12

First off, what is Augmented, Virtual and Mixed Reality?! If you are anything like me, someone who has limited knowledge on any of these realities, you also would have appreciated this week’s presentation on the topic.  Matt, Kim and Brian did a great job putting their content in a way that a novice like me can understand! 

Matt, Kim and Brian illustrated the importance of distinguishing the difference between these three terms to completely understand them.  Augmented Reality as outlined during this week’s presentations is where digital content is superimposed (pictures, text, animations, 3D models, etc) over the real world, instead of blocking out the world it supplements which will allow the user to experience both at the same time. Virtual Reality is the concept that we are most likely to know the most about.   VR is a computer generated that completely immerses the user and blocks out the real world.  Mixed Reality blends components of augmented and virtual reality that allows its users to interact with and manipulate objects that are overlaid on their real world setting.

AR, VR, MR & Education

So how do these 3 realities play into the world of education? It was outlined to us that they can be utilized to create an immersive learning environment for students which can also provide opportunities for teachers to give their students experiences that they may not be able to depending upon resources that are available to them in their classrooms or within their schools.  For example, you are able to provide students an experience working in a mechanics shop when your school does not have one or you could use the realities to take your students inside the human body during a Science or Biology lesson.

It was discussed during this week’s presentation that VR fits within Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning components.  Brian displayed an image that was created by Steve Bambury (2020) outlining how VR fits into Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning and help create an immersive experiential learning environment.

 

I was really appreciative of the graphics that the group used this week to help us understand how VR can fit into the educational world and how our students can use it..  As outlined  in the graphic below (used in presentation), there are 4 depths that VR can fall into – perception (3DOF), interaction(3DOF), immersion(6DOF) and presence(6DOF).  These categories are all dependent upon the Degrees of Freedom (DOF) available to the user.  When more DOF are available, a more immersive experience is the result. 

 We were also provided with an illustration (below) that puts some of these VR apps into the respective categories based on what type of immersive environment they create.  I found this very helpful as I see this as a new avenue that I can see myself going down to bring into my classroom.  I love teaching science, but specifically about the human body as it really is fascinating! I often struggle with finding experiences that can go along with lessons for Grade 7 & 8’s because our school is not equipped with a fully stocked Science lab.  VR provides an alternative to give students this experiential learning opportunities that will give them a real world look. 

Human Anatomy VR App

Like stated earlier, I often struggle with creating an experience for my students in the classroom that goes along with their lesson; thinking Science, Social Studies and PAA specifically.  This is where I see VR/AR/MR coming into play in my own classroom.  I am lucky enough that most of my students come to school with their own personal device which I would likely utilize for this as getting the right amount of Chromebooks is a daunting task and often results in students having to share a computer.  A VR app that focuses on the human body would add an element to lessons and activities that would make an impact on the students.  I structure my science classes with a lesson where we go over various information and then I try to have a practical application activity for students afterwards as a reinforcement to what their learning was focused on. Being able to see within a human body without having to leave the school is a great opportunity.  This exact app is a paid program that only allows for free trial for 2 hours, but if I was able to get my hands on a subscription I would utilize almost every lesson for my Human Body Unit.  

 

AR/VR/MR & The Digital Divide

All of this technology sounds lovely, but In a world that already sees a very large technological divide based on different populations and socioeconomic statuses, I feel that these realities would create an even larger divide.  These realities require specific programs, hardware, equipment and simple access to smartphones to be able to utilize – which is something that not all are privy to.  

In the article, Is There Still Time to Build Equity Into Virtual Reality Edtech which is written by Rebecca Koeing, outlines that VR headsets and equipment can cost hundreds of dollars, which is a big price tag for some students who already have trouble affording an up to date computer or internet that allows them to complete their work.  It is also outlined that if VR in education is not implemented in a thoughtful manner, it will only widen this already large digital divide.  Others argue that VR can act as a ‘bridge’ to access to higher education opportunities with the ability to teach those students who are not able to make it into a classroom. Koeing also outlines that those groups who are often benefited from previous technological advancements could also be positively impacted by the implementation of VR.  

Blogger Raghu Bathina writes in his article How to Avoid Creating the Next Digital Divide Through VR that “VR is no mere video game delivery system. It is increasingly an educational tool, entertainment vehicle, social connector, healthcare solution and training platform. It will increasingly be a part of how students learn and professionals receive important training.”  He later outlines 7 ways in which he sees avoiding a new digital divide or extending the current one.  

  • Continue to support low-entry devices – creating and making available VR devices people can access regardless of their status or income.
  • Develop Open Standards – 
  • Browser-based VR – these could be a great equalizer as to who can afford to engage with VR.  There are many affordable computers on the market for a fraction of the cost of other devices.
  • Accommodations for ALL – accommodations need to be made for those who many have hearing and visual impairments.
  • Diversity, Inclusion & Equity – create opportunities for creators of color and those from other backgrounds to participate meaningfully in the VR world and ensure we build in a way that empowers people from various backgrounds to live their most authentic lives.
  • Free Participation – ensuring that their are VR opportunities with local libraries, schools and school districts.
  • Private Public Partnerships – Government involvement in grants for accessible distribution of VR.

Thanks for a great semester! 

 

Cheers, 

 

Bret

Week 11: Let’s Create! Investigating Makerspaces

This week we were treated to an exceptional presentation by Kristen, Gilles, and Meenu. To be quite honest, this was one of the presentations I was most excited to take part in, as it has strong ties both to my teaching load, and my areas of interest. Coding and Makerspaces have been involved in some of the most exciting, experiential, constructivist-based learning that I’ve been part of, and I am a high proponent of their use in the classroom.

Read more: Week 11: Let’s Create! Investigating Makerspaces

This week we were asked to take a deeper dive into the coding or the makerspace portion of the presentation. As my school is in the very initial stages of creating a high school makerspace, that is the direction I decided to take.

I think it’s important to frame my discussion. A couple of years ago, I was asked to take over my high school’s Drafting and Computer-Aided Design Program. For those who may not know, the bulk of the drafting programs work with CAD or BIM programs. We use these programs to make 2D and 3D mechanical drawings of parts and buildings.

As part of this program, I’ve been able to expand from just designing, to creating. We now have access to two 3D Printers, and a CNC Router. In the future, I’d love to expand into laser cutting, and resin-based 3D printing.

Starting earlier this year, a couple of the teachers in the building came together to discuss creating a makerspace-like area. Our vision is more directed towards the high school end, and as such, would be technology heavy, but not technology exclusive. We’d like to involve things like woodworking, electronics, robotics, computer science, and welding into the area as well as utilizing some of the tools I mentioned above. I picture it as a space that has possibilities to create, to cross curriculums, and to engage the imagination of what’s possible. A place where the student has access to experts in different fields, can conceive an idea, and act on it.

However, I know this type of makerspace is not a one-size fits all. Tailoring a makerspace to your age level, is important. It doesn’t have to be tech-driven as our goal is. Specifically in the younger grades, you could get just as much engagement (or arguably more,) from low or no-tech options. Lego, popsicle sticks, rocks, glue, construction paper, glitter, clay, textiles, cardboard, or sewing materials are only a short list of the type of items that can engage a student’s mind in the same way as I described above.

The design of these spaces can be directly tied to the amount of benefit your students receive by engaging in them. While many low/no-tech options can be easily tailored to many learning levels and styles, it often becomes slightly more work with high-tech options. However, with careful planning, particularly when teaching the basics, it is very possible to get all students engaged and benefiting from the high-tech options, while also giving great opportunity to push your higher-level learners to extend their knowledge further by taking their creations to the next level.

Additionally, I think it’s important to realize that becoming a “techie” is not a necessity for employing a makerspace within your building. Prior to starting my contract that included those drafting classes, I had never opened up a single piece of CAD software. 3 years later, I’ve employed 3D design and 3D printing skills across 4 grade levels, gained great experience in 8 different design programs, 3D-Printed hundreds of items, and gained confidence with a CNC Router (which was new to us this September.) I say this while also confidently saying that I am an expert in none of the above. In my case, all it took to get started was a high interest, and a willingness to work hard, and a couple of repeated asks for budget money.

Finally, one of my favorite parts about makerspaces is the community of people that engage with them. From my experience, I’ve met some of the friendliest, and hardworking people I know through these initiatives. Whether it is connecting with people locally that run 3D printers, or CNC routers, speaking to people on online forums, or meeting them in person at places like the Saskatoon Makerspace, it really is a tight knit community that will go out of there way to assist one another. An added bonus is the open-source movement being alive and well throughout the ‘maker movement.’

One of our assigned viewings for the week does a wonderful job of portraying this. Jamie Leben describes the community within makerspaces. In his words “Makerspace’s build community, so you can come for the tools, and stay for the people.”

Have you ever implemented, or taken part in a makerspace? What was your experience like? Was there any super engaging or must have items? Let me know below!

Coding – Week 11

Prior to this week’s class I had some, but VERRRRRY minimal experience with coding.  I have never been someone who is drawn to these types of activities. I tried taking computer science in high school and struggled to grasp the concepts, but looking back now, I’m not sure I gave it an honest shot.  This is where my mind goes immediately when thinking about coding, but I feel that there is a much larger Detailed illustration silhouettes of expressive dance colorful group of people dancing. Jazz funk, hip-hop, house dance. Dancer man jumping on white background. Happy celebrationworld of coding out there and after this weeks presentation I now know that coding is much more than computer programming.  As Gilles mentions on his blog coding refers to “everything from choreographing a dance, to designing commands on paper for ozobots, apps, websites, etc.”

Over the last few years I have noticed that a lot of my Grade 7 & 8 students are very into coding, but I was not sure of the benefit that it would have to bring those types of activities into my classroom.  This attitude has made me hesitant to invest a lot of time into something that may not pan out (I need to change this attitude and take some more risks). If it was not clear already, I am not ‘techie’ or an expertDigital composite image of biracial girl enjoying virtual reality with world techies day text in this field by any means which has also led to some apprehension on my behalf.  Does coding need to be taught by a ‘techie’? I don’t think so, but I do believe that it should be taught by someone with more experience than I currently have.

Like I stated earlier, I have little to no experience with coding.  I have worked with students with various opportunities through Sask Code like the Ozobots but that is the extent of my coding repertoire – I struggled more with this than the kids.  What these opportunities told me about my students was that they are persistent, creative and stubborn problem solvers.  They worked together to help solve each other’s problems and celebrated with each other when they were successful!  This week’s presentation really made me think back to those times when I was able to get coding going in my classroom and made me realize that there is more benefit there for our students than I first thought – which is where I focused my attention… how does coding benefit students?

Businessman / BenefitI came across an article 8 Reasons Why Every Child Should Learn to Code while I was doing a little more reading around this whole coding thing, specifically what or how it can benefit my students.  This article outlines 8 main reasons why coding is an important skill for students to learn.  Below are some of the benefits that stood out to me: 

 

Coding teaches problem solving – this was one of the main things that I observed when watching students engage with the Ozobots a few years ago.  Coding helps students understand and develop anHello Im a Problem Solver Solution FInder Name Tag 3d Illustration appreciation of how things work.  It also shows students how software engineers can use math in a creative way to solve problems.  I believe that problem solving skills of our youth (especially since COVID) has become less and less.  Students struggle to solve the most basic of tasks – I have had students ask me what they should do with a Chromebook that is dead….

Challenges and Builds Resilience – coding provides students the opportunities to bounce back after they have been defeated and a way to show that failure is the best way in which we learn! 

Young woman drawing creativity in a notebookPromotes and Extends Creativity – these activities give students the confidence to try unique things and experiment with their creativity – they are able to design something that is entirely their own! Students thrive off feedback especially from creating something that they put all of their thought and creativity into – this motivates students to take risks and be creative.

Future of Computer Programming – as the technology boom continues being able to code will serve as a very useful skill to learn throughout grade school.  Those who know how to code, could be put in a better position for employment as there are more and more sectors relying on computer code. 

Coding is Fun with Math –  I am sure I am not alone when I say this, a lot of my students do not enjoy math class.  With that being said, math is not my favorite subject to teach.  Coding provides students and teachers to work on math skills in a manner that doesn’t feel like the typical math class.  Students would be organizing, analyzing data while they are using logic and calculation to create. 

Another article from the University of Texas adds a few other main benefits that students could experience through coding.  This article touches on a lot of similar points as the article above, however, they do add some other beneficial reasons for students to learn and teachers to integrate coding into their classrooms.

Improves Computational Thinking –  this is a type of thinking where problems are expressed in a way that a computer would display them.  Students who learn to think in this manner are encouraged to break down complex problems into smaller chunks and as a result expose a pattern.  

DIGITAL LITERACY concept blurred background 3d render illustrationCoding Helps Teach Digital Literacy – when we think about digital literacy, most of us think of cyberbullying, internet safety, digital footprints and online ethics and behavior.  We may not think of coding under this umbrella.  Technology surrounds us and this is something that is not going to change.  Being able to understand and engage with tech isn’t just a good skill to have, it’s a necessity for navigating an already highly digitized society.  Students need to be digitally literate.  Coding has not yet become a day to day necessity, but as our technology keeps advancing it may get to be one, requiring its own type of literacy one day.

Through focusing my post and reading on the benefits of coding, it is safe to say that this is something I now see as worth the time to understand and get confident enough to bring into my classroom.  To begin with, Sask Code seems to be a great place to start and get some helpful tips Gilles, Kirsten & Meenu  have pointed us towards.  I stopped to talk to the Sask Code booth at the teachers convention and they were displaying some very cool projects that we are planning to try and bring into our school to work with our Grade 7 & 8 students – like creating a remote controlled car using a shoe as the frame!

Cheers, 

 

Bret