Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Last Blast for the M.Ed.

With tonight being the last class I plan on sharing some of the apps, tools and plans I have to become as paperless as possible.

Throughout the semester I have discussed how I want to embrace BYOD and hopefully create a paperless classroom.  I have come to a conclusion that 100% paperless is not going to be a reality as there are so many obstacles to overcome.  I do plan on encouraging and developing as many of my lessons, classes, and units to be integrated with technology to their fullest potential keeping in my my students needs, curriculum, and the appropriateness of the concepts.  

I will break down my ideas into my subject categories:

Mathematics -
Photo Credit: MeanGirlsWiki
1. Teachings - I plan on utilizing a variety of sites and also creating my own content videos.  My go to site for content will be Khan Acadamey, Mr. Kouyoumdjian's Classroom, I will be using both Adobe Spark and straight video to develop my own lessons.

2. Assignments/Evaluation - I am going to be using Mathletics for most of my assignments next year.  This site has the Saskatchewan Curriculum connected to it, along with the approved pre and post assessments that I use throughout the year as my formative assessment tools.  When the opportunity arises I plan on using the manipulatives within my classroom as a stepping tool to bridge the gap from the concrete concepts to the pictorial that the students will be working on within the Mathletics program.

Science -
Photo Credit: Pearson Canada
1. Teachings - As I do not come from a science background I have to rely mostly on the Pearson text and teacher guide as my go to sources.  This is nice because each of the students within my board have Pearson e-text passwords and we are able to utilize the online versions often.  For supplemental lessons I typically find videos through our library services or YouTube is always a favourite.

2.  Assignments/Evaluation - As much as Stager relented about Google and its dangers, I do love it, and I find it very useful.  I focus a majority of my assignments around the Google Classroom platform, whether it is docs, slides or forms for a variety of assessment practices.  What I hope to do this year is connect with other schools within the division and hopefully Collaborate (I know another dirty word Mr. Stager does not enjoy).  On top of that I also plan on incorporating Kahoots for formative assessment along with Flipgrids as exit notes to check in with my students quickly.

English Language Arts -
1. Teaching - This is an area where my "paperless" classroom may be a grey area...  I have access to the Pearson E-Text library for the middle years which gives me a plethora of options, but I also work with a teach of teachers that have a 2 year ELA plan that aligns with our curriculum.  We use short stories, creative writing, integrated cross curricular plans.  My attempt will be to utilize PDF ve
rsions of our short stories as long as it doesn't breach any copyright laws, and then I am hoping that through utilizing the tools built into Google Classroom platform that the students will become more efficient through their written outcomes.  
Photo Credit: GAFE

2. Assignments/Evaluation - I will primarily be using GAFE as my LMS, therefore a majority of my assignments will be evaluated digitally as well.  We will be focusing on more of the process of the writing traits and reading strategies that the students need to improve upon over the year.  I feel that through using an online format I will be able to help identify and improve my students understanding of the process of learning through language arts.  I believe that the issues of plagiarism, copying out weigh the problems of incomplete/lost assignments and there will be less excuses for these issues.  As long as I am diligent in checking in with the students along the way I hope the copying issues will be less frequent.  

I am interested in getting into blogging with my students but I am going to need to get the other members of my teaching team to buy into my philosophy before I will be able to make this a fully integrated part of my Language Arts program.  

Over the course of the semester I have been compiling my information into a slideshow so I can share with my staff and school community in the fall.  I have a link to the document here, but it will not be "finished" for a few more days (by end of June for sure!).  Keep an eye out for it and if you would like me to share it with you so  you can edit it please send me a message and I am more than happy to share.  

Finally I would like to thank my colleagues/peers/friends who over the last number of classes we have worked together and got to know one another in many different aspects.  I will miss spending Tuesday nights with you.  At this current moment I am excited to be done, but at the same time I feel that I will miss being involved regularly on Ed Tech topics through classes like Alec/Katia's.  I am sure that the free time I will have will eventually be filled with kids activities and honey-do-lists from my loving wife.  

I'm Out!
GIF Source: Reddit
Kyle DuMont   M. Ed. (soon to be...)

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Reasons For Technology Within the Classroom!

For most of this class I have been antagonistic in my approach to technology in my classroom.  This week I am feeling much more natural in researching why to incorporate technology.  Janelle Cox writes about the Benefits of Technology in the Classroom.  While her stats are from an undergrad study I can appreciate her stance.  What I did like within her blog were the links she connected with and how she shared her knowledge.

Photo Credit: Lon Levin
I stumbled upon an awesome blog that laid out how to incorporate tech into a classroom for the .  While I have not found any evidence supporting higher grades, reduced drop out rates, or any form of legislation forcing educators to incorporate technology into the classroom in Saskatchewan as of yet, there are other signs that technology has a huge importance in our society today, especially in the field of education.  Our federally funded national news company CBC continually does spots on the importance of digital literacy, coding, and incorporation of technology within schools across Canada.  While we are not being forced in any means to work on digital skills, we are approaching the point of:  if you are not teaching digitally, you are doing a disservice for your students.
technophobic teacher

The benefits to incorporating technology seem to outweigh the current arguments against the concept.  From personalizing education for specific students with high needs (extending curriculum or condensing), to the increased availability to teach through inquiry based methods, into blending or flipping your classroom to support the varied needs of time management for the every busy student.

Photo Credit: 2013 PBS LearningMedia
Students are feeling more comfortable with the idea of using technology within the classroom.  Not only is the ownership of technology (Laptops, tablets and smartphones) going up but the usage for school work is increasing dramatically.

Photo Credit: 2013 PBS LearningMedia
In terms of how the students are learning within the classroom is also changing.  As of 2013 over 80% post-secondary students have experienced online classes in some aspect.  I am sure these trends have continued.  We have seen this within our own university and the amount of online classes being offered.  With this we can see why it is important for the younger students to be introduced to technology within their education voyage.  The idea of readying students for their future workplace also falls into this category as well, because if the students do not know the basics of technology, how we expect their future employers to hire them for jobs that revolve around technology.

How to integrate technology is a topic of discussion we have had in many of our ed tech classes recently.  We know that different divisions have varying policies on what devices are to be in schools.  Within my division we are allotted 1 tablet for every 3 students in grades 1-4 and then 1 laptop for every 5 students from grades 5-8.  The message we have received for the reasoning behind not being able to purchase more tech for individual buildings is based on the financial upkeep and the workload to keep all the tech running at a working capacity.  Through studies my division has determined that through strategic planning every student can access the technology enough that the schools should not need more technology.  This is where most of us (actual classroom teachers, shake our heads at the utopia dream world most of the decision makers live in).

BYOD is a concept that my division is creating a policy on and as going to expect their schools to adopt. How it is rolled out and how the communities will accept it only time will tell, but I am hoping that with the board approved policy it gives the schools a little more substance to stand on when we ask our parents to support sending private technology to school for their children to use.  One of the policies I have read through and feel is substantial in how they plan on dealing with BYOD issues is from Alberta.

Another concept I found interesting and could very well combat the cost issues with our division is a Parent Owned Device Program.   With this concept the parents purchase a device and the school division would upload all the software needed to connect with the schools servers, and the students can access all the necessary digital needs, while off setting the cost based on the devices being owned by the families.  While this is from a private school, I feel the concept is worth looking into.  There will certainly be the conversation about have and have not schools, but similar to our new public MRI policies in Saskatchewan I'm sure we could adopt something similar in the public education system.

Throughout my research I am finding that everything to do with technology is a balancing act.  From how much screen time a student is exposed to, or how effectively the students are retaining the information they are learning.  We need to be sure that what we are planning for our students is productive and appropriate.

“One-to-one and BYOD are game changers, giving students access to digital tools throughout the day, across all subject areas. This paradigm shift challenges teachers to rethink and redesign learning activities to capitalize on their school’s investment in technology. ISTE
This puts more pressure on the teacher to develop the appropriate content for each grade/subject level.  This brings me back to the point I made earlier in the course about teachers and technology, whether it is 1:1 or BYOD that neither are legislated or mandated to have to be including this concept into the classroom.  While I feel technology is very important, I need to understand that colleagues around me may not have the same passion or belief.  The goal to education needs to be improving the students, based on curriculum first, and if you have the time, energy, or motivation then you can add in the extras such as technology.

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Why Technology

Last class Alec made a comment about why are we using technology.  There is no legal obligation, it is not a part of our curriculum, they are causing stress for parents, and teachers.  We talk about how it is the way of the future, but if the technology is constantly changing whose responsibility is it really?

I appreciated the article by Stager that he shared with us and I have used it this week as a jumping off point.  I went through his page and found an article about 1:1 Computing which was actually about the effectiveness of teaching keyboarding skills in the late 1980's.  The summation of the article sounds very similar to our discussion we are having around using personal devices within the classroom in today world.

There is widespread agreement that elementary school students need keyboarding skills. Whether keyboard familiarization is sufficient or whether students need touch typing skills depends on the nature of the school’s language arts and computer education curricula.
If we replaced the word keyboard with device the statement still stands as in today's culture.

There is widespread agreement that elementary school students need their own device skills. Whether device familiarization is sufficient or whether students need touch typing skills depends on the nature of the school’s language arts and computer education curricula.

With statements like this I am starting to ask myself, why isn't there a technology component into curriculum?  With the ever evolving state of technology why are we not required to be teaching with it?  Society obviously demands the upgrades as we can never have one device for much more than 4-5 years before it becomes obsolete.  I would like to think that with a statement from Stager's article on keyboard typing is so connected to using our digital devices in school that it would have become a priority to the curriculum designers at this point.  On the other hand is it possible that technology really isn't that important and we don't have to teach with it to ensure the student's are learning the curriculum.  I know I was able to get through the curriculum just fine into the early 2000's.

With all the research I have done in the last number of classes and throughout this specific one almost every article shows that engagement increases with technology but the overall grades/marks/understanding the outcomes is not increasing at the same rate, but there is only ever a minimal improvement if there is one at all.

One of our catch phrases lately has been Collaboration and if you have followed me on my technology journey you will know that I try to incorporate and teach through this method as much as possible.  But my new found friendly neighbourhood blogger (Stager) has a great article on this topic.  I feel that collaboration is a method that helps me get through the curriculum at a faster rate while encouraging more participation from all the students.  Stager has a very different view of how we should be collaborating.  As I read his article I laughed for the most part, both at the article and also at myself because many of the things he was satirically writing about were the things I am doing to be an engaging teacher, and using collaboration to engage my students more... Maybe I need to rethink how I am encouraging and designing my collaborative groups....
Cooperation and collaboration are natural processes. Such skills are useful when the creative process benefits from interdependence. The best collaboration mirrors democracy when individual talents, knowledge, or experiences are contributed to produce something larger than the sum of its parts.  Work with your friends. Work with people you trust. Work with people who have different skills or expertise. If that doesn’t produce the result you desire, you will find others to collaborate with. That is how you learn to collaborate. You may teach it, but the students will not stay taught.

So what do I do from here.  I am certainly feeling juxtaposed in between my desires and what is actually important.  The important pieces are ensuring the curriculum is taught.  That is my job.  I have to get through the grade 8 Math, Science, and ELA curriculum's next year regardless of what mode of transportation I use, be that pen and paper, technology, or pencil crayons on cardboard.   I do not think the Ministry of Education will care as long as my students are "learning" the curriculum.  My desire is to go paperless.   To do so, I need to supplement my classroom with out of school devices.  Within our division we are allowed 1 Google Chromebook for every 5 students from grades 5-8 and 1 iPad for every 3 students from grades 1-4.

With the outcome based evaluating I feel that I am able to determine how a student is doing with the more written language, or produced materials they can show me.  Through using these Chromebooks I am able to monitor and track how much my students are doing as long as they are using their board approved username and password.  (The more I think of what I want the more I feel like I'm becoming Big Brother in Wells' distopian world). With using the technology I have at my disposal I am able to ensure those students who struggle with organization will at least have a searchable document when I am helping them, also those students who are functioning at a higher level will be capable of extending their learning and dive deeper into topics of their own inspiration.

When looking at the question of why use/teach with technology, I am thinking about Postman's article we read in an earlier class around technological change.  Reflecting on that article we need to be reminded (especially about his stance on the purpose behind the technology)

 there is embedded in every great technology an epistemological, political or social prejudice. Sometimes that bias is greatly to our advantage. Sometimes it is not.  
As long as we are focus on using technology to improve the quality education for our students, it is of benefit.  If we are choosing to use technology because it is easier for the educator, or it is only 'more engaging', but not providing evidence of improved understanding, then we need to re-evaluate how/why we are using this technology.

I am looking forward to the next couple of weeks of this class, as I am working on a document, and my final blog post as to how I plan on implementing the BYOD within my classroom, along with what specific apps and tools I plan on utilizing to provide a paperless classroom next school year.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Battling the Cons of Technology

My focus this week was on how to effectively find solutions for the Cons that I found last week.  My major frustration was around the disparity of access when it comes to technology within my room.  Many of the sources I read talked about the variety of students not having technology for mostly socioeconomic factors, but in my experience when dealing with 12-14 year olds there is often a set family values around technology.  Whether it is due to responsibility, protection, desire, or a litany of other reasons for a child to have or not have their own device.

What I have found this week revolves around the importance of utilizing technologies within the classroom and the benefits behind them.  I am hoping that with this type of knowledge the parents/caregivers of the students will be more open to sending a their children to school with a device.

When reading a paper on a 1 to 1 initiative that took place in Michigan the authors found that:
In looking at student benefits, the FTL students reported that the laptops helped them learn more and made them more interested in learning.  Most students were confident that use of the laptops would increase their future work opportunities. (Lowther, 2012, p. 27)
When looking at the engagement of students as an educator that is one of the most important pieces for me.  If a student is engaged and interested in what they are doing they will get more out of that particular assignment or reading.  What becomes difficult for the educator is how we assess the learning of each student.

Another reason for incorporating technology within the classroom is to help our students prepare for their future.  With the every changing landscape of education and the fast paced nature of our society now we need to give our students every opportunity to be working with the potential tools they will be required to master within their careers.
“Learning is complex work and like other forms of skilled and technical work it requires that the person performing the job understand and be comfortable with his or her tool set.” Alberta Teacher 2011
The document this quote is from is the BYOD Guide from Alberta.  They go on to share some constructive points as to why BYOD is valuable and important.

Alberta BYOD Guide pg. 4, 2012
Continuing with the idea that technology is the way of the future... (sorry it that was cliche). We need to be teaching differently.  I've talked about collaboration in some of my previous posts from prior classes, and I am trying to teach students how to work collaboratively, but it is a process.  Dre, one of my colleagues/peers, shared an article around how effectively students are utilizing the technology within their studies.  A majority of the evidence showed that students were not very proficient with the tools that they are supposed to be using.   Although the authors did share this sentiment:

Photo Credit: ImgFlip
“High levels of smartphone use by teens often have a detrimental effect on achievement, because teen phone use is dominated by entertainment, not learning, applications.” (Barnwell 2016). But perhaps this is a “which came first, the chicken or the egg?” dilemma. Teens were never asked or charged with using smart phones for learning so their lived experience and reality command a different use. Well-orchestrated and deliberate learning applications for smartphone use in classrooms could change this.

Photo Credit: Teachers With a Sense of Humor
Within my post last week I also focused on the idea that BYOD can cause unwanted distractions within the classroom.  Now if you are an educator in this day in age you can be certain that there is always something that will be the next big thing in you classroom.  I personally do not believe that technology is the only thing that is going to "distract" our students from getting their work done.

I believe Liz posted this article on dealing with digital distraction within the classroom.  This is a great way to teach moderation and when technology is appropriate or not.  Just because we plan on using technology to help our students learn does not mean that it will always be the most effective mode of transportation for the information we are attempting to share with the kids.  Take this article on the spinners as an example.  While the concept behind the spinners is meant to aid certain students, but when they are being used improperly they have become a major distraction for many if not the majority of classrooms in every building.  I have seen the same thing within my classroom when I use technology.  If I am not using the tech in a meaningful, productive, and engaging manner, the students are very quick to using the "tool" improperly.

Finally I leave you with this idea.
Today’s path–a breakneck pace through a required curriculum aimed at enabling students to pass cheap bubble tests—is antithetical to the effective use of technology. Instead, students in East Palo Alto, Greenwich, Mumbai, Shanghai and London should be connected, working together on projects to, for example, analyze acidity in rainfall or traffic patterns or election results.  (Technology in Schools: Problems and Possibilities)

If we are going to be using the technology, lets make it beneficial, for the students, while creating and developing the skills that we are attempting to develop for their futures.

Why NOT to Integrate Techonlogy

*Sorry this is a week late.... I thought I hit publish when I closed out my window and apparently I did not.*

So my premise for this week and mostly for this study is to take a pessimistic viewpoint of technology within the classroom.  I want to find as many reasons not to integrate technology as I can in hopes of finding the best methods for smooth integration beginning in the fall.

There were a variety of peer reviewed articles that I worked through this week.

1. Cell Phones in the Classroom: Teachers’ Perspectives
2. In-class multitasking and academic performance
3. Examining the impact of off-task multi-tasking with technology on real-time classroom learning

I also found some blogs that I found as useful in terms of integration into the actual classroom.  One of my favorites was The Pros and Cons of Technology.

Ultimately between most of the readings I found that the distraction factor is huge when we look at how the tools are being used during class time.

This is probably the number one worry of teachers who consider implementing classroom technology: the concern that students will be too busy tweeting and Snapchatting to pay attention to the lesson. Students’ innate curiosity, coupled with their tech savvy could lead to more online socializing in environments where devices are easily accessible.         Blog
When students were polled in a study it was found that
Photo Credit: MediaBistro
While texting was the most popular activity during class, students reported using other technologies as well. They reported using Facebook, email, and searching for content not related to class, with 28% stating that they use Facebook and email in class and 21% stating that they search for content not related to class at least some of the time they are in class.       (In-class multitasking and academic performance)

Now this study was focused mainly on senior students or 1st year post secondary students I feel the numbers could be extrapolated to represent very similar stats within a younger demographic.  Within the study around off-task multi-tasking they found that

the correlational and self-report studies above suggest that off-task multi-tasking in the classroom is most likely detrimental to learning.       (Examining the impact of off-task multi-tasking with technology on real-time classroom learning)
With these facts on the table I found it interesting that there are so many teachers that are blindly pushing forward to incoprorating technology within their classrooms.  I myself have seen a large portion of my students demonstrating all of these "off-task" behaviours within my classes every week.  The majority of my experience would be students using Snapchat or Youtubing songs.  

I believe that many of my students could benefit from using the technology but I am not teaching the students how to properly use the tools within the classroom.  

One of the next major barriers I found was the Disparity of Access among each of the students and teachers within a school.  
Many of the teachers reported that access and cost—traditional first order barriers—were the major barriers to integrating cell phones into the classroom not only for themselves but also for students.  (Cell Phones in the Classroom: Teachers’ Perspectives )
This is a huge factor that concerns me when looking into integrating technology to the point of going paperless within my classroom.  How can I effectively run a paperless classroom if all of my students can not access the digital content consistently.  Even though I am fortunate enough to work within a higher socio-economic area, there are still families that for either financial or family value situations (where the parents feel their 12/13 year olds do not need a personal device), that every student may not have access to a device.  Our board policy only allows a ratio of 1 laptop per 5 students in grades 5-8 and 1 iPad to every 3 students for the primary grades.  I am concerned with how to demonstrate the efficacy of technology within a classroom to convince the families that their students need to learn how to use these devices.

I feel that my journey is going to be surrounded by these what if scenarios and one of my biggest hurdles will be communicating to the families that technology can be a benefit if used properly. 

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

The Final Hoorah! Directed Reading

The time has come for my last lap around the sun!

I am very excited to have the opportunity to finish off my Masters of Education program with a directed reading course.  My peers Jenn, Andres, Jorie, Elizabeth, and Jayme-Lee and I have taken a variety of classes together, mostly with Alec Couros as our technology guru/professor.  I am thankful to these awesome colleagues for inviting me to be a part of this directed reading course where we each get to research and study specific areas that we want to learn and improve upon within our own niche areas within this crazy profession.

Photo Credit: Dizain
I am looking forward to investigating the concept of integrating technology into a middle years setting through the method of a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) plan.  Over the last few years I have been a technology proponent within my school and I have openly suggested to the students to BYOD without any real plan as to how to effectively deal with the possible issues that my arise.

Luckily I have not had that many issues, but I have had many frustrations along the way.  I have not come across a situation where the technology brought in has been damaged, lost, or stolen.... Yet.  This semester I plan on looking into the negatives around BYOD policies in an effort to develop a plan for effective use for the upcoming school year.  I have been told that my school division is going to be implementing a board BYOD policy to help aid in the technology gap that is occurring with more and more teachers within schools and the division wanting to incorporate technology into their teaching.

I also teach in a community that is very involved in their children education and typically have great questions around the purpose of new programs/incentives.  Personally I feel I am close to going to a paperless classroom.  I believe this is possible, but one of my main hurdles is going to be ensuring that every student in all my classes has an equal opportunity to utilize an effective device throughout the day.  With the community I work in, the board rolling out and new policy I believe I need to have as much knowledge around the topic before I am able to justify going paperless.  Therefore is the basis for my desire to research the concept of BYOD and mainly the negatives behind what may, or will occur with this concept.  Thankfully Jenn suggested a great article to get me started, and Alec shared Alberta's BYOD policy which are going to be some great starting points for me.

Through my groups conversation last night Alec talked about incentivising technology.  He was talking about it from the administration:teacher perspective but it made me think about it from the teacher:student perspective.  Mainly the questions of: why am I going to do this, who is this benefiting, and how will this affect my students learning.
Photo Credit: Wiki Commons 

I am looking forward to the journey this semester will take me on.  I am hoping that I will still be willing to attempt a paperless classroom in the fall, but I will let my learning take the lead and see where it takes me.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Final Touches

This course has been interesting.  I found that working collaboratively in a group was very positive for me.  Having amazing colleagues that are all driven and willing to put in a little extra helped me push through the hard parts of the semester.  For the finishing touches of our final project we met and discussed the thorough feedback we received from our peers.

Areas we needed to focus on were: Common Concerns, Appropriate Grade Leveling, and Connecting our Summative Assessment Tool of Blogging.

As my group stepped up for me in my time of need I went through and touched up our Course Profile adding in specific information about the Common Concerns and explained how we would deal with a variety of scenarios if they came up.  As for the grade level conversation we felt that the overall work could be modified for our original grades 3-8 but after reading numerous peoples feedback and their concern for the language throughout the unit being a little to high for some of the younger grades we decided to change the scope to grades 5-8.  We still feel that this unit could be done in a grade 3 and 4 classroom, especially because Jorie teaches a grade 2 class and is doing most of what we have created over the course of the semester as her class has been her guinea pigs for a lot of her learning.

As for the Summative Assessment Danielle went and created an additional video that explains the the 'prior learning' that was assumed to have taken place prior to this unit as an add on for anyone who has not began with the blogging before taking on our project of Genius Hour.

I am very pleased with the overall outcome of our assignment and feel that we all developed not only creative content but also a useful and almost complete unit around Genius Hour that is ready to go.  If anyone is interested in viewing our course please feel free to log in using our student code: ku6m8y.

As for my Summary of Learning, I enjoyed walking back through the different classes and taking snapshots a variety of tools, and learning opportunities I had taken advantage of over the course.

Kyle DuMont's Summary of Learning

Again it has been a pleasure to be a part of an amazing learning community.  Thank you Alec and Katia for facilitating and teaching another outstanding EdTech course.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Final Steps

So this is supposed to be a blog about my final steps for my prototype.  What transpired inthe last 13 days has completely thrown me and my family for a rollercoaster ride.  On Friday, March 24th my wife and I took Ainsley into the ER in Regina, thinking we were being "those parents" who take their kid in for a little cough. Turned out to be an extremely sever case of RSV (which is a fancy term for a lung virus). Apparently all children under the age of 2 get this and in adults it looks like the cold. But for our little Ainsley it was a pretty rough one. The doctors in Regina recognized it quickly and took immediate action by intubating her within a couple of hours and then flew Ainsley and Tenille up to Saskatoon to be in the Paediatric ICU where they see upwards of 100 RSV cases a year in infants. After almost 6 full days of being on intubation the doctors took the tube out Thursday afternoon and we were hoping to be sent home in the next day or two (providing she continued responding well to being off the ventilator). We were then sent back to Regina in the middle of the night on the 31sth/1st and have been in the General Hospital here since.  

Now what does this mean for my prototype....  technically not much because I did zero , but I was able to utilize some of my new found skills from this class to prep and plan for my time away from school.  While most of the artifacts that I produced to ensure my students learned what I wanted them to were wordy and certainly not polished I did get an opportunity to ensure my students were able to do the assignments that I wanted them to complete.  

I used the Tech Smith Snagit Screencasting Chrome add on to walk my students through their Big Idea in their Pearson text, review the material they needed to learn over the course of the week.  I was able to post a video about how I wanted them to do their science experiment as well.  I did use some YouTube videos throughout the week because the content I wanted covered I could not produce from a hospital room.  As for connecting to my prototype I did use one of my videos to have my students start a slideshow as a culminating "Summary of Learning" for this unit we have been working on over the last 8 weeks.  The video worked well from what I can tell because my students have already started their group presentations and are looking good.  Doing these activities along with the typical math assignments I use my Google Classroom for I felt very confident that I did not need to be in my classroom physically to ensure my students were getting what they needed from a curriculum point of view while I was tending to my little girl.

In terms of finishing off our prototype.  I need to say a HUGE thank you to my group members: Danielle, Adam, Lorranie, Jenn and Jorie.  They went over and above and ensured our page was completed and that each section met the requirements of the assignment from Alec and Katia.  Finishing off and polishing the final look of the Google Classroom would not have been an easy task, and I apologize for not being present for this portion of the assignment.  I know it was a team effort and some in the group really took a lead and organized the framework amazingly.  

As of this morning Ainsley has been off oxygen for almost 3 hours and is doing well.  She is also almost weened off the narcotics that she was on.  

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Openness and Me

Ainsley Marylinn
First let me start off by apologizing and sharing my reason (OK it's an excuse for not having done my blog on time, but I think its a good one!). Last Tuesday we had our second little girl. We named her Ainsley Marilynn and I spent most of my week helping my wife and trying to keep everything running in our lives smoothly. With all that I ran out of time/energy to make sure this blog was done before then next class. Thank you all for the well wishes and congratulations.

When I think about my experiences with open online spaces in the realm of education I have to admit that the only times I have been involved in an open setting would be within the courses designed by Alec and Katia throughout my graduate degree program. I have been involved and I teach in a closed environment for the most part. Occasionally I have ventured out and used my twitter account to ask for advice, or participated in a group designed multi-school activity #eggdrop. But I really haven't ventured out of my safe (closed) settings of Google classroom or URCourses very often.

Through my limited experience of the Ed Tech classes I have found that there is a huge opportunity to learn through an open space. For my personal learning I feel that Working in Open Spaces has broadened my horizons and given me opportunities and connections I would never have had prior to these classes. I also feel that you get what you put in. I have not utilized twitter as much as I have in previous classes and I am noticing my depth of understanding of the concepts we are moving throughout this semester is lacking, I would say that this is because of my inability to spend the time in the open space and interact with my PLN through blogging and twitter that I have worked to set up. I believe that the authenticity of learning is upon the learner at all times, but it is more prevalent within an open course concept. I am a big believer in "you get what you put in" ideology. Within the open learning space, the learner is in control of what they take in, therefore to answer the question of "Is authenticity guaranteed if we open the conversation to the world?" My answer would be yes, depending on you ability to discern between appropriate and authentic information. What I mean by that is, if the information you are receiving from your PLN is substantiated and you trust the information to be true, then yes, your learning is authentic and meaningful.

Within my teaching I look at what is appropriate for students in the middle years (grades 7/8). This is an age where many of the students want to be treated like adults, but are still immature and need to be treated with caution. Currently, I have not opened my classroom up to an open space, yet. I would like to branch out and begin interacting online to help my students learn our science concepts at a deeper level, along with aiding in the extending of the learning for my high achieving students. My number one concern is the safety of my students. Not necessarily the physical safety, but more the mental and digital safety of my students. I feel that I will be able to begin diving into the open learning spaces with my students through the science curriculum because I feel that it will give us the opportunity to connect with experts in the field easily, but also safely. Science is a subject that is generally clear cut at the middle years level and the answers can be found with little opportunity for any prejudice, or negative interaction occurring. I would like to eventually feel confident enough in my ability as a leader in technology within my own classroom that we can begin to branch out and blog/tweet about more social justice issues and become more involved with the more sensitive topics.

Photo Credit: Open Learning
I am fortunate to work in a community where there is a high access to technology and the possibility for interaction within an open course environment is very much available in terms of the hardware/infrastructure side of things. My concerns will come from my administration and the parents of my students. From my administration, they will want to make sure I have thought about the safety of my students and I have thought of how to problem solve a variety of scenarios before I even begin so that when the conversation begins with the parents I am ready to explain the need, purpose and how I am going to ensure the safety of my students. I feel most of my parents will be supportive, but their number one concern will be the safety of their child, and their second concern will be, how I will monitor the online activity to ensure there is learning occurring and it is not a waste of time. There will also be some educating of the parents around why open education is important and will be beneficial for their child.

In terms of how I am going to ensure safety of my students I will teach about digital citizenship with a major focus on the negatives and the dangers around being online, and creating an online identity. Utilizing sources that share information around Teachers Guide to Keeping Students Safe Online with both the students and parents will be a crucial portion of the pre-learning.  I will most likely even host an evening around digital citizenship to share and teach the parents about monitoring their children's online activity and how to openly talk to them about what they are doing online.  

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Discussion Boards.... Useful or just another chat tool?

  • What forms of student/student-instructor interactions will you implement in your course prototype (e.g. LMS forums, chats rooms, Flipgrid, blog comments/pingbacks, hashtags, Google Plus, etc.)? What justification can you provide for choosing these forms of student interaction? What guidelines or assessment practices will you adopt to ensure that interactions are meaningful, supportive, and relevant?

Since I utilize GAFE consistently in my classroom, I feel like having student to student interactions should be happening. But when I think of a discussion board, or a mode of communication other than what I have been doing I become anxious about how this tool will be misused and possibly become another distraction.

From one of our article readings this week I found the "Benefits of Using Online Discussion Boards" to be very clear.
Using a discussion board, a chat room, or any option for the students to interact to help each other, ask questions to better their understanding is a good thing. When starting with GAFE I found that all the comments we linked to an email and my inbox was constantly exploding with comment notifications. Since I was new and did not know how to manage the notifications I put a blanket ban on using the comment box, which has turned into a systematic stoppage of communication between students online.

Photo Credit: Flickr dmeyer302
OOPS! After reading the articles this week I actually facepalmed myself. I found myself reflecting and realizing how I have culled the students learning opportunities by doing this.

When thinking about our course prototype, which we are working in Google Classroom for, I am trying to think of how we can use the "Comment" section of each Assignment/Announcement/Question box to develop a better understanding of the assignment. I am certainly going to have to do some teaching around this within my classroom and I will follow the guidelines set out in the article. As a group we have discussed how we are going to utilize a blogging component to our course to ensure their is continuity between assignments. I think that through both the commenting through the announcements and the blogging our course prototype will be very inclusive and develop a more meaningful understanding of the concepts the students are learning about as they dive into their own research around their chosen topics.

As a group we have also tabled a discussion for adding another layer of communication within our course. We may incorporate a twitter feed along with our Genius Hour Project. I can see the opportunities with this being endless. With the concept of Genius Hour being all about the students interests I wonder how many serendipitous moments can happen like that of Rochelle's love or reading and how it transpired into a lengthy discussion with the author of the books she shared with a class in her building. I can see this happening frequently enough that if you took our Genius Hour Prototype into a full on classroom program you may want to create its' own Twitter account.

Within Schwier's article on Shaping the Metaphor of Communityin Online Learning Environments he shared that
Learners have control over the quality of collaboration that happens online, and if they reject the invitation to elevate their engagement with each other, we will be left with something less—a cohort, not a community (Misanchuk, Anderson, Craner, Eddy and Smith, 2000).
 I think that through using effecting communication tools, such as a safe area within the closed network of Google Classroom, a more open one of a blogging site, such as Edublog, and then an open but controlled (by the teacher) tool such as Twitter the opportunities for learning and collaborating will not only be effective but engaging for the students.

Monday, 27 February 2017

Blended Learning....Why Not?

With my perspective around digital learning, specifically around flipping or blending the learning environment, I thought it would be interesting to look at why I should not. I have stated relentlessly, in the last couple years the multiple reasons for why I should flip/blend my teaching, but I have not every taken the time to find a reason not to. Similar to the other Kyle that's what this week has been about.

After reading a variety of blogs I found the 6 Disadvantages of Blended Learning by Scott Winstead, it had a very strong tone with a great question of why are we:

disrupting the battle-hardened educational system with its solid methodology, academic backup, strong instructor figures, and developed intellectual and psychological bonds, is hardly a wise thing to do.

I had to do some searching to find the origin of a couple of news reports, but the article Meet the Classroom of the Future was well wrote and is found through the NPR site.  This article got some news coverage and had a couple other reports wrote about it.  All in all, these articles broke down the 6 issues of a blended classroom as: Infrastructure,  Mentality, Pace of Advancement/Amount of Learning, Negative Impact on Teacher: Overwork, Negative Impact on Students: Cognitive Load, Plagiarism/Credibility.

Infrastructure is always going to be an issue, whether it is in terms of physical space, or digital one. This is never going to change, and the costs are always going to be there.  My thought on this... Deal with it.  The elected and hired individuals have a responsibility to ensure that the infrastructure is up to code/date.

Mentality is a harder concept to 'solve'.  This is because it deals with individuals perspectives and pedagogy around education and where they value their knowledge and their skill sets.  To overcome this barrier there needs to be an appropriate amount of PD put into place before any technology initiative becomes school/system wide.  Everyone needs to have a modicum of confidence and willingness to take on an initiative such as this.  

Photo Credit: Giulia Forsythe
Pace of Advancement is an interesting concept to have to battle through.  You want to ensure that your class is moving forward, while ensuring that each student is completing and understanding each task.  This in my mind is more of a planning issue with an individual teacher.  The assignments need to be chunked, and broken down so that you can have check ins with students in the face-to-face classes along with the ones who are predominantly online.  I believe as educators we can not allow a student to go days, let alone weeks/multiple assignments or classes without checking in with them in some regard.

Negative Impact on Teacher: Overwork is a big issue, especially in our political climate here in Saskatchewan with negative budgetary issues and scare tactics of prep time, or contracts being dismissed due to re-legislation.  This is a serious issue, but I do not believe it is independent to a teacher engaging in a blended learning environment.  My wife, who teaches with a more traditional classroom approach, brings home more "work" than I do.  While I see it as menial, she explains that it is all about prep and making sure she can use her time in the building for the things that need her full attention, and she would rather bring home the photocopying, cutting, and prep work to do at home.  All the while, I am on my phone checking in on my students and answering questions coming in from my LMS from multiple students about the homework due in the coming days.  

Negative Impact on Students: Cognitive Load is also a big issue, but similar to teachers being overworked, it is not independent to the blended teaching community.  Teachers need to know their students and they need to adapt or expand assignments for individuals who need them.

File:ME 109 Thief.png
Photo Credit: Nina Palay
Plagiarism/Credibility is a constant issue with my classes at the beginning of the year.  Students like to try to trick me, and get away with their assignments being rushed.  I have developed a variety of tools to demonstrate how easy it is for me to prove the students have not done the work in a proper manner.  From demonstrating how Google docs work, to simply copy and pasting sentences into a search bar and finding the documents they are plagiarizing from, or to the more complex ones of I have to search my own files for students work from previous years, but again it is a quick search and i am generally able to show the students, that I recognize when it is not their voice and I can usually prove it.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Learning, Digital Learning, Teaching...

We as educators generally focus on the types of learners we teach and how we need to teach to them through a variety of ways that they will learn best. Through reading Bates article about the pedagogical differences between media I found it interesting that I see a lot of my own preferences within my own teaching. The main section that I found myself aligning with Jenn, that learning through video is probably my top choice. When I look at how I learn, relearn, or inquire into new tasks I always find myself turning to videos. Some of my favorite are usually around how to butcher game, to learning how to properly Sous-vide different foods.

I love to cook and am always trying new meals, appetizers, and techniques. The reason I use video so frequently is because I know I learn from seeing how the professionals do the technique and I try to emulate them. I have a plethora of cookbooks and I love to get my inspirations for flavours from them, but when they are talking about a new technique I almost always find myself searching for a video for confirmation of how to learn the new skill rather than reading about it.

Now through reading the Bates Chapter, and skimming through peoples blogs I am realizing how prevalent text is within many of the videos I use to learn, and that I share with my students when learning. As I was reading Kara's blog I agreed with her comments about how I read, and what I do when I am reading, which is to highlight, jot down notes, and even go to the extend to type notes into a Google Doc to ensure I do not have to rewrite/type information when it comes time to write responses. Therefore I am realizing that even though I may enjoy the video aspect, I do learn most through text.
Flickr: House of Cards

One thing that also made me connect my enjoyment of text is within TV shows (House of Cards is a favourite) and movies now. When someone receives a message the message in some shows, or movies is being overlaid on the screen so we can see who it is from and what the message is. This idea made so much sense to me and I have commented on it a few times as my wife and I watch different shows.

With respect to my own personal learning, I know that one type of learning is never enough. I know that even when I am strictly reading, I do not get enough out of the straight text, so I typically read out loud to help myself keep focused and I know I retain more information when I read aloud to myself. Similarly when listening to an recording of a book, or I am following someone read, I have a hard time not reading as they speak. This is where the love of video comes from. I feel I need to be as engaged as possible. I need multiple stimuli occurring to keep my focus. That may be due to the fact that I should have been diagnosed with some form of squirrel watching/bike riding/need to be active diagnosis, but I also have realized that the more interactive, whether it is physically, or multimedia style of learning is where and how I learn best. One is never enough.

Fig 7.7 from Bates, 2011

As I look at the pedagogical framework from Bates' article I found myself being mostly a connectivist style learner. Most of my learning come from blogs, YouTube, Wikis or straight up Google searches. Where I see my classroom, spans all three of the categories. I feel most of the deep learning comes in the connectivist zone, but we typically work through the objectivist, and constructivist areas in the early and middle portions of the year to get the students ready to be work within their own inquiry based topics.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Critiquing my Math Instruction Tool

For almost all of my math lessons I like to connect a digital lesson to the assignment so those students who miss a class, are sick, or need a refresh at home while they are working on their homework. I use Raffi Kouyoumdjian's videos most of the time.

This week we are working through Volume of Right Rectangular Prisms

I like these because of his interactive Smart Board and he teaches using the formulas very similar to how I expect my students to work through their math problems. I feel that our teaching styles are very similar and make it easy for my students to recall my lesson when they watch his videos.

No looking at critiquing his digital instruction there are things that could be added into his teaching. When talking about quality I feel that the video quality is very good, but the audio can be distracting because you can hear the background sounds of the intercom, occasionally students in the hall, and a constant buzz from something. Certainly the lighting and production quality is not that of a professional video, but in a way I like that it shows he is just a regular classroom teacher who isn't tied to a big company.

Some things I think he could use is to integrate some better sound system, whether that is incorporating a microphone to reduce the background noise or ensuring there are no disruptions when he does his videos. I think he could overlay some graphic onto his video as reminders.

There are some sections within the video that when he is using his smart board the information is behind him and blocked by his body. This is where I think incorporating a Screencast technique may help improve this digital lesson. He could record what he is doing on the smart board, then piece that together with a stop animation tool to ensure nothing gets missed by him accidentally covering up the lesson with his body.

In terms of production difficulty, I do not think this would be hard to create. It seems as if he has used a camera on a tripod and hit record as he does his lesson. Of course he has some sharp cuts with iMovie transitions between 'scenes' to cut down on instruction time. I like that he jumps from one question to the next without showing all the steps it takes to erase the smart board and pull up the next slide or question. I feel this speeds up the lesson and keeps the learning going.

For my use I have found that students and parents appreciate having a video linked to the assignment so they can rewatch/relearn the concept to work on their struggling math concept. Therefore, the impact I have seen on student learning is a positive aspect. Specifically for the early lessons in math units where we look at more of the holistic approach using models and activities to get the learning process started. These lessons frustrate parents, but when they view the lesson, they are then capable at helping or understanding the concept along with their child.

These videos are a valuable tool for me, but I would like to begin creating my own, not only so I have them, but also to have more ownership over my own classroom and material I am distributing. While I have appreciated using Raffi's videos, I would like to incorporate some of my suggestions and develop my own digital teaching lessons around these concepts.

Does anyone have another collection of math videos that are similar they would like to share?