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.

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 5: Inquiry Teaching

This week in class we did an out trip to George J Elementary to hear from Rebecca Bathurst Hunt about how to enhance our inquiry in the classroom. She co-authored alongside Trevor Mackenzie for the book “Inquiry Mindset.” Rebecca’s passion was apparent and she seemed to be very authentic in the way she approached inquiry and teaches in her classroom. I think authenticity is key in inquiry and that is why it has worked so well in her classroom.

One of the biggest things for me on this visit was seeing how she set up her classroom to maximize inquiry. On the board she had pictures of the students heads that had individual thought bubbles for their inquiry questions. This idea was great because when a new topic was choosen each of them could ask their own inquiry question and be reminded of that question as they explored the topic. I also noticed she had an area in her class designated for quiet reflection. This area included a meditation pillow to sit on and the illusion of “walls” so the student could retreat there if they needed some time to think, reflect, or just take a break. While working with inquiry I think it is important to be able to reflect on what has been learned and what the next step will be. This space allowed for this to occer. I noticed that in the classroom there was lots of manipulative for hands on work. I think this was great for the children, especially because this was a younger class (kindergarten), because hands on learning is important for discovery which is essential in the inquiry model of learning.

The current topic was on space. I was blown away by the time and effort put into the “space station” in the classroom. It was clear that Rebecca strived for an authentic experience where students can use these topic specific manipulative to learn more about space. I thought this way of teaching inquiry was amazing because students really get a chance to try out what it would be like to work in a space station! These kinds of experiences give students the opportunities at a young age to find unknown passions and discover things about the world and themselves in an engaging way.

Another thing that I took away from this inquiry based visit was how Rebecca taught with the intention to spark inquiry. She loved starting lessons with books because it provoked questions and thoughts related to the topic. She also liked using Giphy’s and pictures to provoke thinking in students.

Pictures such as the one below give wonder and excitement about a topic. It is also ideal to direct students learning for inquiry. For instance, this picture could spark discussion on why the water disperses at the bottom, how the mountain was formed, why different vegetation grows at the bottom and top of the mountain. From these questions the new topic could be about water cycles, ecosystems, tectonic processes. I think using pictures is ideal in classrooms because it can be directed while still inspiring students to creatively think of what they want to learn about. This process can also be used with any grade!

A Giphy can be used most effectively with older grades. This is because younger students may get to caught up in the specific movement of the photo that they cannot think beyond what they are seeing. Using this method enhances the previous idea of using a static picture by showing aspects of something that moves. Questions that could arise for instance would be, how is this butterfly flying? What keeps it in the air?

From these stimulants Rebecca asked 3 questions.

  • What do you see?
  • What do you know?
  • What do you Wonder?

I think this entire process worked well for inquiry. It is guided inspiration that allows for students creativity. The three questions are specific and helpful for expanding that creativity. It lets students really engage with the material and dig deep to find what they want to learn about.

Week 4: Copywriting

I think having knowledge of copyrighting and copyright law is important as teacher because there are many resources available online that can be helpful in classrooms. It is imperative to know which resources can be used and in what ways. It is also important to understand copyrighting because ones own resources should be properly copyrighted. This way there is proper attribution to the work, whether your own or others. Knowing how to properly understand copyrighting allows for more collaboration among colleagues. If there is an understanding about creative commons licensing than they can share resources openly and be able to adapt and use the information with ease.

Creative Commons Licensing is a type of license to use resources as long as it is attributed with the original author. It includes choosing whether resources are allowed to be adapted, not allowed to be adapted or allowed as long as they make changes apparent.

*If unsure the copyrighting status and want to find out if a resource is copyrighted go to search the commons.

I learned today that if something is copyrighted it cannot be used unless the source explicitly states it. However, if it is a public document one is allowed to use the resource for personal use they are just unable to photocopy and distribute it, for example, in a handout. A tip about saving photo’s that I found helpful was to save the document under the website, the person’s username and the license of what it is. An example of this would be flicker@jondoe-CCBY2.0. By doing this, one tags the image in their documents so they are aware of where they got it and the licensing it pertains. This way if the image is used later the information is already obtained. An easy way to find images to use that are not copyrighted is to use the advanced search option on Google. The advanced search in under the settings tab where you can scroll down to the bottom to find usage rights options. From there, it is easy to change the search to free to use or share images. In other words, it is searching for images with a creative commons license. For more in depth information this link to best practices for attribution may help.

Pacific School of Innovation and Inquiry Visit

The High School Visit to the Pacific School of Innovation and Inquiry was a very eye-opening visit. I think that the system that is used is very effective for a niche group of students. I found that typically the students drawn to the school were those with social or academic anxiety problems. I think they are drawn to this system because it is less traditionally academically structured and a smaller community. While there, I heard several students mention that high school was a scary place. The teachers at this school have seamlessly found a way to teach inquiry based. Teachers are there to assist students in learning of their own choosing. They direct students to resources that would help and hold classes that essential for the projects. I found the accelerated program very interesting in this process. I think it’s a perfect way to integrate higher level education in a meaningful way because students are only taking the courses that are beneficial to them. Likewise, because of the students flexible schedules these one-off university courses are less overwhelming and dense. The accelerated program also changes the student’s whole ideology around university in a positive way. It is no longer a place to go to find what you want to do, it is utilized for key aspects to help them achieve what they already know they want to do. Students that come from this school have a clear idea of what drives them and what resources they will need to further that drive. For example, one student had 1 year of computer courses and then started his computer business. For him, he was only missing a few concepts that these courses offered. Once he got what he needed he could branch off on his own.  

            Although this teaching method works very well and should be an option, this system could not be the only option for schooling. It would not be possible to have this system on a large scale. The cross-over of information from students work that the teachers would have to handle and inform on would be overwhelming. Another downfall of this school was that there are no team sports. Students cannot even go play for other schools because the school is registered as a sports school. Only some students able to play only if eligible. This limits student’s opportunities in sporting avenues. That said, the benefits to this system cannot be understated. Students develop skills based off projects they are personally invested in. The passion and drive is in every bit of work they do because they choose to do it. It seemed that this system worked because every student could find something to be interested and these inquiry questions lead them to their projects. One pivotal moment for me in realizing how well this worked was when 2 students were talking and explained that a few days earlier they had just decided to learn creative writing. I believe if you give students the time to explore and ask questions, as this system does, key concepts that are forced in traditional schools are chosen to be learned on their own time. I also think that when topics are freely chosen instead of forced more learning occurs. I am very grateful for the opportunity to go tour this school and talk first hand to the students to see how the system works.I think this type of independent school should be an option for every student to choose because it is so effective for those that do not do well in our traditional schools.

All photographs in this post are licensed by Creative Commons

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)