Blogging, Twitter, and Trello

Blogging:

Previous to this class, I had never blogged before. Likewise, I never considered myself to be the blogger type. However, from this experience, of blogging about multiple topics consistently over the semester, I have come to realize that anyone can be a blogger! Moreover, blogging can be done on any topic or interest, which makes it so inclusive for readers and bloggers. By the end of the semester, I came to really enjoy the time I had to blog. It allowed me to sit down and synthesize my learning in each topic. I also like that I can now come back to my blog and see my progress of learning on a plethora of subjects. I would highly recommend blogging to others, and would implement this into my classroom to teach students how to respectively have presence on the internet, as well as learn to summarize learning and show it in a presentable way.

Twitter:

I created a twitter account dedicated for teaching. This account allows me to follow school districts to stay involved, and also allows me to find likeminded people who are inquiring about ways to strengthen their teaching practices. Through this platform I have found some great twitters that have amazing ideas which have sparked creativity for things I could implement into my own classroom. Heidi James focuses on Minecraft and how it can be used in classrooms and Rebecca Bathurst – Hunt focuses on inquiry in the classroom. These are just a few of the people I follow that I can see the great things they are doing in their classrooms and build upon them.

Trello:

I did not utilize Trello as mush as I should have this semester, but I do see the potential it has in the classroom. I saw it firsthand at the Pacific School of Innovation and Inquiry school when students used it to work collaboratively with each other on multiple projects. It creates a way for students to connect through multiple devices and organize thoughts and things to be done. I acts as a wonderful organizer and medium for students to create through.

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QR Codes, VR, AR and more

The first half of this week we listened to multiple technology inquiry projects. These topics included, Place-Based Learning, Podcasting, and Freshgrade. I found all of these presentations to be quite in-depth and informative, as they groups have had several months to learn and master these topics and depict key aspects. The rest of the class we touched on QR codes, Augmented reality, and Virtual reality. Below I briefly talk about each and pull out some of the highlights.

Place-Based Learning:

Some great activities that can be utilized for place-based learning with a class are Questagame and geocaching. Questagame is an app that allows students to document wildlife, which contributes to an online database! Not only do children get the reward when they find species but they are also helping to track species across the world. With this app they are able to create clans to compete against other clans and learn about species. It is a fun way to get outside and explore what species the world has to offer in a way that engages the new era of tech savvy children. Geocaching was another activity that is a great way to learn navigational and critical thinking skills. This also gets students outdoors and guides them to think in others perspectives when finding the geocache. There is also the option to create your own geocache, which has students think of hints that would help someone else find it.

Podcasting:

The appeal to podcasting is that it can have very specific topics because it is designed for a narrower audience. This makes it so there is a podcast on any topic, so everyone can find one that suits their interests. Podcasts are “auditory blogs.” In a classroom situation, podcasting could be used instead of an in person presentation if a child has performance anxiety. There are also amazing podcasts that are made by middle school students for middle school students, like “the unexplainable disappearance of Mars Patel.” They are wonderful tools to learn while multitasking, for example doing chores or drawing. In my classroom I could put one on and have students draw a visual map of the topic. However, for all the great benefits it has to offer, there are a few things to consider. Podcasts can be made by anyone and for this reason are not always valid information. If used with a class, this point should be made clear so students do not think everything they hear is absolute.

Freshgrade:

One thing in particular stuck with me about Freshgrade. It’s not what did you learn today it is HOW did you learn today. Parents have the chance to visually see what their child is doing, grading is no longer an arbitrary letter to compare to others. For example, if there is a dance unit in PE the parent could look on Freshgrade to watch a video of the dance their child created. It integrates them into what happens throughout the day so that is no longer the question they are asking when they pick their child up from school. Another great feature about the grading tool is that students and parents are able to comment on work, which creates a collaborative and progressive way of learning and grading. This new way of sliding scale grading also takes away grade oriented learners that only focus on the outcome, and allows students to enjoy the process.

There has been lots of pushback with the introduction of Freshgrade. However, one of the takeaways from this presentation was that at first it is more work to document as you go for every individual student, but with practice it actually becomes easier to grade throughout the year instead of cramming it into 2 weeks at the end. Another point against it is that some parents do not use technology at home. In today’s day and age, technology is becoming more and more prevalent and easy to access. Even for the few that this relates to, it can be remedied easily by using technology in the community or even coming into the school to see what their child is doing in the class.

GAFE (Google Apps For Education):

GAFE is educational google apps that can be used in schools. It was briefly touched upon in class but one can get their google certifications for levels 1 and 2 for free to gain more knowledge into the workings of it. A great feature is that when logged into a gmail ID one has access to “classroom.” The one problem with this is that things done out of the districts server can’t be exported into school district, so one would have to start again when in a new district. However, the practice done would help strengthen understanding and speed up the process.

QR Codes:

QR codes are scalable square codes that link to other resources. These can be put on bulletin boards, worksheets, or any other similar material. An example of how to use one could be putting them on math worksheet to link to video going over topic. With them you could also link to audio or video files, record your own voice, provide answer keys, or scan for question. Here is one website that helps generate QR codes.

AR (Augmented Reality):

Augmented reality takes QR codes to the next level. With the help of an app called “HP reveal” one can create a hotspot and when that hotspot is scanned it can link to resources, helpful videos, answer keys, and other amazing links. Augmented reality goes further than QR codes. It can also create visuals that “pop” out of the page and can be seen through the screen of the phone that scanned it, and show then end product of buildings if pointed at a construction site hotspot. Argon is a browser that allows others to see augmented reality. The one downside is that the hotspots, sometimes referred to as auras, take the place of QR codes but can be missed unless you are aware they are there.

VR (Virtual Reality):

Virtual reality is similar to augmented reality however it involves a headset. With this headset students are immersed in a new environment and can move around 360′ spaces. This can be beneficial if students are studying about a certain place, it allows them to transport there and experience what it would be like. I have also heard of architecture students using VR to practice looking at dig sites around the world. The con to VR is that it should not be used by children under 13 and should be limited to 30 minutes. It can also induce sea sickness.

Skitch :

Skitch is an app that allows one to take photos and blur out faces before it is uploaded to the cloud. When using other blurring apps, the original photo is still in the cloud. With skitch, the original photo is taken on the app and blurred before it is sent to any storing space on one’s phone. Then the photo can be uploaded. This is a handy tool to use in the classroom when the faces of non-consenting participants are in photos.

Distributed Learning: Learning From a Distance

Distributed learning, otherwise known as distance learning is for learning when being present is not an option. It’s a form of multi-access learning that creates a more flexible learning environment to suit the needs of more students. For example, students with anxiety and health issues, or those living in rural areas may be unable to attend classes face to face. If the teacher has a closed modality in their classroom it becomes harder to keep up with class work.

Here’s telepresence robot, a great alternative for learning at a distance. Not only can the student video in but also move around and communicate with his surroundings.

Permission obtained from patron(s) in photo

Personally, I never experienced distributed learning until coming to UVIC. In my entire time from kindergarten to grade 12 there was never the opportunity to participate in the learning environment unless I was present. This was a closed system where everything that happened was within the walls of the school. It all changed when I came to university. A new way of connected learning was established for me to learn through. Platforms like Coursespaces allowed for a connection between class and home. I could receive assignments, complete, and submit them anywhere in the world as long as I had internet access. Another way this platform establishes class learning abroad is through blog posts. They allow for an online class discussion at a distance. I think distributed learning is ideal in this new age of technology. Every student has access to some form of technology and can utilize it beyond the walls of the class. It makes it possible to conference in to important lectures if away or sick, or unable to attend for any reason. It expands the possibilities of learning and allows for so much more flexibility to reach students that were never able to be reached before. When I was going through school teaching was classroom based. Even if resources were used online they did not translate into the world outside of the classroom. Everything was done face to face and it was hard to miss school for any reason. I think if teachers decided to strictly use face to face modality in the classroom and don’t post anything online, it makes it hard to access resources on what’s been missed. This modality is less inclusive and flexible and, as a result, some students would be unable to complete the requirements.

Distributed learning increases numbers in schools, while also meeting the needs of students. I think with the technological shift we are seeing in society it only makes sense to integrate it into the classroom. This shift in modality reaches more students and creates more avenues for success in a variety of situations that will continue to happen to students in the school system. Now place-based limitations are no longer a barrier, whether family obligations, travel, health issues, or other reasons. Students can receive the flexibility they require to receive a good education.

Minecraft Edu

In this weeks class students from Colquitz Middle School came in with their teacher Heidi James. Heidi and her students were very passionate and knowledgable about how to implement games, like Minecraft, into the classroom. It is common knowledge that online gaming is seen as taboo. This is because on the outside it can look like an individual practice that takes away from developing social skills. However, while playing the game today it was clear that this was not the case. The biggest indicator of this is that the classroom was not quiet! Everyone was communicating while also being productive. There was collaboration, negotiation, problem solving, and communication on where to go and what to do.

An interesting thing to think about is how this shift positively impacts projects. With gaming as a platform for projects it takes the techonolical shift we in our society and implements this into the classroom. It is the essence of taking a clay diorama and, instead, creating online worlds. Using minecraft helps students collaborate not just in school but out of school. This extra time allows them to enhance their project and is flexible if they want to change it. Online also means it is very portable. With a clay model, it can only be done in class and is less portable. It is a more restrictive model to work with. Not to say there isn’t value to using platforms that are hands on, but this post is about breaking down barriers to progressively using technology in in the classroom. Another positive aspect about this shift is that is allows education to connect with this new culture of learners that have grown up alongside technology. Through this, the learners can become the teachers. I personally am ready to learn from the passions of my students to enrich the learning experience. Plus, this helps students develop leadership skills which I think is important. Another interesting thing that was mentioned in class was how a student was scared of dark gradually got used to going out in world within Minecraft. At first they wouldn’t go out at night and would only stay in the lighted house but eventually they ventured out at night. Then in real life it became ok going down the dark hall! Technology has so many benefits in ways we can only imagine.

When we played as a whole class on one server is was very engaging, when the screen was paused for further instruction it was almost jarring. I became so immersed in the game and was having so much fun engaging with all my peers trying to get through the obstacle course tutorial world.

A great feature that helps when using this in a classroom is that the teacher has immense control to aid students and manipulate the game in a desired way, when needed, depending on the project.. They have the ability to freeze individual students or the entire screen; in the chat they can mute individuals that are not following rules or completely take the chat off; and transport to another student or pull them to where the teacher is. The last one is extremely helpful because students can easily wander off and not be able to find their way back to the action in the game. I found this out with personal experience.

A great thing about this type of project is how easy the assessment is. It becomes clear what has been learned by simply walking around and seeing what students are doing, how they are thinking creativity and critically, and what type of communication is happening. This are valuable skills to assess and this type of platform makes it easy to see.

Heidi James explained to what capacity Minecraft can be used in the class. The key point was that the possibilities were endless. Here were some of the examples she gave, along with my own project that I took part in:

Math:

  • In Minecraft if the key F3 is pressed, coordinates appear. These are not just X and Y (2D) but X,Y, and Z (3D) coordinates that students become familiar with through engaged play. These coordinates can be used in the game in serval ways. One, is if a student needs to find another student and they use their coordinates to meet. Another is if the teacher hides an item at a certain coordinate, including underground, and lets the class try to find it. The underground aspect involves 3D thinking and helps students start to comprehend these principles.
  • Another way math can be taught through Minecraft is with coding turtles. These are turtles that can be programmed to do anything. For example they can continue digging until they hit lava if that is what has been coded. This is an advanced learning curve for students and only a few master the process.
  • The class could all be dropped into an area and have to find a treasure based off coordinate clues. Much like a scavenger hunt.

Social Studies:

  • Students can study ancient civilizations. Prior to playing the game, groups can pick an ancient civilization that they would like to focus on. In a class before playing, they would draft what the structures would look like, what the values would be, and other specifics. Then it can be brought to the lab to be build. Each group is given a territory. From there the civilizations must learn how to trade resources with other civilizations (students) and survive. Heidi James even created connections to make it more realistic. For example, if a witch poisoned you then you had died of food poisoning, if a skeleton kills you then you die of starvation. However, at the onset these options would be restricted so there is time to build in an easier setting. As mentioned above, the teacher has control within the game. This makes the project more authentic because the teacher can give sections of the class specific resources and items to start. We saw an example of this in class when the teacher gifted one of the students playing a full diamond helmet.

English:

  • This project is from personal experience. It was one that I did in grade 9, and it is probably one of my most memorable projects I did through the entirety of my school years. We would play Minecraft for one class and then the next class we would write a chapter about what had happened. The goal was to start out the book lost and unsure of how we got there. The rest was up to us. This story took creativity to a whole new level because we got to live the experience not just hypothetically write one up. I also allowed for a more realistic story because there were aspects of the game that one really had to think about, such as obtaining food, building a shelter, surviving.

Other Subjects such as – Arts, Sciences:

  • In the game there is a “crafting table.” This is a 3×3 square grid where items can be placed in specific orders to create new items. For example, the image below shows how 2 sticks and 3 wood blocks create a pickaxe. The use of this teaches how to visualize. Students must get creative when thinking about how an object might be formed. This also teaches how to manage resources and critically think. Wood will have to be used to build a shelter but if some if used to create a pickaxe the overall gathering process becomes faster.
MineCraft Wiki. Vultraz. CC-BY-SA.

Once students get the hang of using Minecraft an advanced option would be letting students build their own tutorial world for others to use. This requires a significant amount of critical thinking and problem solving.

A tip that Heidi James provided was that when creating the project for the class is to never use downloaded world. This is because it has parameters that someone else has set. If a random world is used the teacher has complete control. Animals for food source, time of day, weather patterns, creating structures. The options for what to include and exclude are endless.

A resource that was shown in class was Dan TDM on Youtube. He has lots of videos that pertain to video games. Lots were related to MineCraft! They show other possibilities that can be done with the game.

Week 3 Blog: Video

This weeks class was very productive and informative. The first half was a conference call with Ian Landy in Powell River pertaining to the shift from traditional report cards to E-Portfolios. This formative assessment is important because students can be excited about the work they show knowing that their grades are based upon the great things that they have done in the different subjects. This form of assessment allows for flexibility in the learning for students to enjoy the process and engage in personalized assignments. I think E-portfolios are fantastic because all students have different assets that are shown in different ways and these portfolios allow them to be graded on things that portray those unique assets. I think the old system with report cards is very limiting by having every assignment have a letter grade. There is no additional information given and students feel stuck with grades that they get on every assignment. I like the idea that with an E-portfolio you can delete items, it is an ever-changing grade based on the learners development. It showcases the best of every student.

Ian Landy has some really amazing blog posts that are diverse and very informative and enriching. Here is his wordpress: https://technolandy.wordpress.com

Licensed by Creative Commons

The second half focused on developing our video and audio editing skills. I had used iMovie before and thought I had known all the editing tricks. I was thoroughly happy to find that there were new editing skills I had yet to develop! Just goes to prove that every one always has more they can learn. When using GarageBand to create an audio track I was completely confused. I could not find where the instruments were and did not know how to play the instruments electronically. However, with time I figured things out and was able to piece together a small song. I found the process of making a song from scratch to be quite difficult. I did not know where to go from a certain point and for that reason the song is not very cohesive. This was a learning experience that I would love to explore in my spare time. I think this app is a really impressive tool for creating music and should be explored!

Here is the link to the video I edited: (Password: Education)