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Adventures of ECMP 355 (Summary of Learning)

I’m not sure one post or one video can explain all that I’ve learned this semester, but I worked with Brooke Stewart on creating a video or two where we tried to fully summarize what we have learned on this journey that is ECMP 355! Rural internet limitations means that we had to break up our summary of learning into two parts: the first being a Powtoon video where we go on a journey about learning about technology and the second, we reflect on a few things we couldn’t include in our Powtoon including coding, cyberbullying and a topic that is special to us- technology and rural schools.

 

I sincerely hope you enjoy our videos as much as I enjoyed creating them with my friend and neighbor Brooke!

My Contributions 

“How have you contributed to the learning of others?”

That is a very good question. It has been a long semester filled with ups and downs, indecision and a rather hectic schedule for me.

I will say that this is my weakest link. When my life got busy, my responses and comments got pushed to the side. I also have a tendency to lurk, seeing how others have solved the problem rather than answering the question being asked. I also felt limited by my lack of knowledge in this topic of technology. It took me awhile to actually comment on Google+. Below are some screenshots from comments I made and posts I shared on our Google+ community.

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I began the semester hating Twitter. I had tried using it as a personal account and I just didn’t “get it” but thanks to this class, I now love twitter! I love learning new things (especially about teaching) and meeting new people.

I shared a few sources with my #ECMP355 classmates like Love, Joy, Feminism and Youtube extensions for teachers (see embedded Tweet above). I also helped a few classmates learn more about a particular ed tech tool- Flipgrid by Tweeting about the tool and created a topic using Flipgrid on which my fellow ECMP classmates could use Flipgrid as a student and respond to a prompt.

I also participated in a few Twitter chats such as #CVTechTalk and #imaginEDchat and I would love to keep participating in chats such as those in the future (when I can, Spring and Summer are hectic times for me due to our ranch. We start calving in mid-March through May and then there’s seeding in the Spring and haying in the Summer in addition to our branding and helping our neighbors with theirs).

I love the Twitter chats because you see so many different opinions from a variety of sources (which I could see easier thanks to Tweetdeck!). These chats are also a way to expand your network  based on your interests (Social Studies, anyone? Social Justice? Teach like a Pirate??) which I think is great, I can learn better methods that are catered to the issues that pop up in a Social Studies/History classroom.

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I could have commented on more posts, but as I’ve said before, my life got busy and I pushed the interaction part of this class to the side. It is a terrible excuse, but I am owning that this was my weakness and I could have done better.

My next post will be all about what I’ve learned! Stay tuned!

Playing with Scratch

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I decided to play around with Scratch today! I had fun making the unicorn jump around using the arrow keys. It took some getting used to, knowing what I wanted the unicorn to do but not knowing the exact terminology. It definitely took some tweaking!

I think coding is an important 21st Century skill that our students can benefit from learning. Coding and tweaking websites can be a great resume building skill and makes our students more attractive to future employers.

Coding can also engage students who might otherwise not be interested in classroom topics.

Technology Integration

Tech is everywhere. We engage with technology everyday as consumers, whether by using our an app on our phone or on the job. It is clear this is the 21st Century. Just how can technology benefit schools, students and educators?

Education technology is a wonderful thing, it can open up a whole new world to students who live in extremely rural areas (like I do) and it allows them to broaden their experiences when life is not limited by locale. 12158666264_61c44094fa This can be done via virtual tours such as this one of the Louvre or via linking classrooms via video conferencing. Students in smaller schools may also be able to access classes that otherwise might not be offered.

Photo Credit: Wayne Stadler Photography Flickr via Compfight cc

Another way that education technology is a wonderful thing is that teachers can utilize technology to encourage student voice and promote democracy in the classroom. Students who are introverts can be encouraged to use their voice via technologies such as Flipgrid or Mentimeter or through a platform such as blogging or Twitter where they might be more comfortable rather than speaking in front of classmates. Students can also give teachers feedback on lessons, topics and classroom activities. And for other students, technology can provide a real audience for them to share their ideas and practice their writing skills. Blog platforms such as Edublogs can provide a safe environment in which these students can blog about topics and hone their writing skills with real-life applications.

Technology can also streamline instruction. To quote Alec Couros, “if you can google it, why teach it?” Instead of focusing on information overload, teachers can focus on teaching skills such as writing, digital citizenship, branding and other 21st Century skills that may help them in college and career readiness. Our students should be becoming critical thinkers, engaged in asking questions and making their world a better place instead of focusing solely on the memorization of dates and names that they might forget after the next test (dates and names are important, but it shouldn’t be the only thing on our students’ minds).

We can all agree that technology is a good thing, however; there are a few things to consider before we jump in feet first. We must consider student access to devices if our classroom is “bring your own device,” some students cannot afford a smart phone or tablet or computer and making your classroom BYOD might create some issues.

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How much is too much? Can too much technology be a bad thing? According to Science Daily, writing notes by hand might make learning easier and the information might be absorbed better than if those notes were typed. We as educators need to find a balance between technology and regular classroom instruction.

Photo Credit: DawMatt Flickr via Compfight cc

We should seek to pick and choose types of technology that fit our classroom and school environments instead going overboard and adopting things wholesale. What works in one classroom may not work in another. This is especially true right now when many educators and administrators are concerned over budget cuts and what kind of impact those budget cuts might have upon our schools.

Overall, there are many advantages to integrating technology into our classrooms, but there are many things to consider before we jump in feet first. Technology integration should be smooth with students in mind.

Blogging in the Classroom

So Skylar and I decided to create videos using Flipgrid for our conversation regarding blogging in the classroom.
I played a concerned parent and the points of my video are:

  1. student privacy- Is my child going to be exposed to potential predators?
  2. The idea that what my child writes could have potential to hurt them in the long run (think about Justine Sacco and the backlash from one Tweet)
  3. Is blogging really necessary? Is this vital to my child’s education or is it just a fad? Is the instructor going to have enough time and energy to devote to overseeing students when they blog.

Skylar responded to my video! It is so cool to see different videos on a topic. I just wish those videos were longer than a 1:30! I was in a room that wasn’t very quiet with no headphones and so I love the idea that Flipgrid makes a transcript of every response! The transcript may be inaccurate thanks to developing technology but I’d like to thank IBM Watson for trying his best anyway!

isam just responding to your post about blocking ends at the classroom and as a parent myself I think you know it it’s natural for us to to be concerned about a child and especially you know with the stories of Amanda Todd or just you stay cool you know about about how we’re leaving you know it to doodles like Frank and I think that as a teacher privacy privacy settings and controls are greater importance we must be careful when choosing our privacy options especially for how great you know when having our students while you were at different assignments or you know I am I think when introducing flocking to my students that it’s definitely a a great opportunity to first educate them on digital identity you know discussing online safety and privacy with students as well as discussing arm digital footprint that you may be creating I also think that having the parents involved will be an important step as well you know to student success for a blogging perhaps having the parent teacher interaction will help motivate the students learn more I’d definitely think that there’s a lot of positives to that as well that can come from blogging inside the class

In addition to the points that Skylar made in her video response, I wanted to add a few things. Blogging and the creation of a digital portfolio can add so much to a student’s education and set them up for success after high school (whether it be college readiness or career readiness). George Couros makes some valid points in his post 5 Reasons Your Students Should Blog” I am going to re-hash most of what he said and add a bit of my own ideas into the mix as well.

Blogging can improve literacy with different mediums, making students better digital citizens while exposing them to various tools such a YouTube, Flickr and a host of others that can be related to blogging.

Blogging can also help with the development of student voice and encourage reflection about learning. With blogging, students can be a part of a community and through community (commenting, etc) there can be an exchange of ideas and those students can learn from each other. Students can initiate change through their blogging and the exchange of ideas. This shows them that they aren’t “just a kid” and that they can make their own environments better with their ideas (Like the creator of “Sit With Us”).

Blogging can also serve as an archive of student learning. All your posts are saved and organized by tag, category and date! They can see how far they’ve come from grade 9, or see what they learned in grade 10 science; it is all there on their own page! I kinda wished I had an archive like that off my classes from university or even high school! This leads us to the development of a positive digital footprint for our students. Let’s create one before someone else does it for us. Let’s fill the web with positive stuff instead of negative.

I also think blogging in the classroom could be a great set up for teaching our students 21st Century skills for both career and college readiness. Students learn:

  1. About tagging and using categories- for post viewing ease and webpage organization
  2. Development of networks (like my PLN on Twitter or my network of fellow “hipsters” who struggle with FAI and labral tears of the hip)
  3. Résumé building, or using their blog webpage as a résumé where they can show off their skills.
  4. Skill ownership and the importance of communication. Students can say “I know how to do this!” and student created blogs can serve as a way for parents to check up on what their children are learning (depending on the privacy settings).
  5. Privacy and how to control who can see what.
  6. Intellectual property and appropriate usage and the need to cite sources, photographs, etc.

Overall, I see many positives for blogging in the classroom with the appropriate lessons to students about privacy, writing to an audience, post appropriateness. As long as the instructor takes the time and the steps to set students up for success, I can see blogging being very beneficial for students.

 

Feedly Feeds My Need-To-Know

So I made the plunge, I set up my Feedly account (I even downloaded the app!) and I have to say that this app somewhat confuses me. It isn’t always easy to add a blog to my Feedly, but after some tweaking I do often accomplish that goal.

I really like the idea for this service because (in true Ravenclaw fashion) I really like to learn new things all the time. Feedly helps me keep all my sources in one convenient location, which saves time and data for this wandering substitute teacher.

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A glimpse of my Feedly

Because it isn’t always simple to add an interesting blog to Feedly, that limits what I add to my feed. In addition to the ease of adding a blog or source to Feedly, I find content via my PLN on Twitter and other educator’s blogs. I do check the source (as in, is the blog a fellow educator or professional?) and I read a few posts to see if the content is relevant to me.

I have a few categories, Education, Ed Tech and Social Studies to cater to my broad interest and few specific professional interests of mine. Where Feedly might be limiting my PLN is the fact that a free account can only follow 100 feeds (I have over 30 already!) so I might have to pick my feeds carefully as I continue to use this service.

One source that I have followed since my undergraduate days is History Tech. It is a blog focused on Social Studies and technology. He usually posts some great resources and great ideas to integrate in the classroom. In addition to blog posts, he also has podcasts, videos and webinar resources so that his subscribers can get a variety of information in a variety of sources. For example,  he uses a dorsal fin analogy to get students engaged in historical thinking, not just the memorization of dates, names and esoteric facts that most high school students will forget at the end of the semester. He outlines several different ways this strategy can be used within a classroom setting, at multiple levels. This is gold, I always find great social studies ideas on Twitter and Pinterest only to have to tweak it for the grade level which I am teaching. Sometimes it just doesn’t work, but Glenn outlines different levels of the strategy so it is useful for different grade levels.

Another source that I follow is OverDrive Blogs. I just started following this source the other day but the feed itself seems to talk about free online sources, books to integrate into class and tools for the educator. I am excited to see what tools and new ideas this feed will bring to me! Sometimes I have a brainwave of a cool idea or concept that I want to teach in class, but I am unable to find sources for it (or reading materials for my students) and I think OverDrive might be able to help me with this problem in the future.

What are some of your favorite sources on Feedly?