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.