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.

Week 6: Technology with Children

Ask yourself….what is social media worth to you? Would you spend $1 day to use it? What about $10?

This week Jesse Miller came in to discuss mediated reality. Within the 2 hours talk he touched on many diverse topics within social media and technology. Below I have highlighted a few of these topics and some key ideas.

One interesting idea that he opened with is the negative view technology, specifically social media, has from parents. To them, their children are always on their phone during family movie night or gatherings. From here, we were shown biased articles that were written by mothers for mothers. This the article was written and posted to Pinterest, where we found of that this is the demographic for users. However, these fears are misplaced. This lead to a discussion on biased information and the fake news that society was not prepared for. This shift was completely unpredicted. I think it is very important to educate children on how to see through information and sort through all of the false information. A problem today is that any idea or notion can be confirmed for people because anyone can post anything. It self-confirms beliefs that may not necessarily be true.

For me the biggest takeaway is that although technology has it downfalls, it can be harnessed for incredible things. Even though some use it for mindless streaming, gaming, or seeing how many followers they have. It can be used in prosocial ways, for leadership and learning outcomes. Moreover, even for things such as gaming it is subjective. Prior to this, I thought that gaming was harmful for children and induced more aggression. I now know that I did not have enough information to inform that belief, it was just an assumption that over time became more of a firm belief. This class taught me that gaming can teach important skills such as mathematic, planning, and communication. I think it is also important because, as a teacher, I need to be engaging for my students and that involves creating lessons that are based around cultural preferences. An interesting thought was brought up. There is a reason why children do not check their phones in the middle of the soccer field during their game, but they check it in class. It’s simply not as engaging. Students enjoy gaming and it seems that it is a big part of our culture. Even for students that do not necessarily play games it could become a new avenue within their interests. I also saw how effective gaming was for youth. It became a positive outlet for students. Another factor that was brought up was that Vancouver is becoming a huge hub for technology. In response to this, more people will populate the surrounding areas for more affordable housing. Therefore, it is highly likely this new generation of children that we will be teaching will have technology as a big part of their world.

Children we are going to be dealing with don’t know a world without netflix, cellphones and youtube. How do we as educators mend that and show that we are part of that world. Currently if you were to go into a class and say Ice bucket challenge, students would have no idea what that was. If you said fort night dance, they would all stand up and start doing it! and it will keep changing. I think it’s imperative to stay updated on the newest trends so activities in the classroom can remain relevant and engaging.

Technology as a Teacher

A large portion of the speech was based on teachers and their use of technology and social media. Ideally, one should use a pseudonym to minimize being found online by students. However, through the connections within sites it becomes increasingly harder to not be found. For a teacher there is 3 audiences for social media. First is the public, the parents, and all media should be reflected on how the school district wants technology to be used. Secondly, is the staff. An important thought was said that not all your colleagues will be your friend so even a personal account should be moderated. Lastly is the students, I know from personal experience that if there was news of finding a picture of my teacher while I was in school, it would have been a big deal. Students find pretty much anything amusing, so social media even at a personal level should be kept professional.

It is also crucial, in this age where everyone is accessible by text, not to message children but instead to communicate to parents through emails. This keeps everything to one platform so all parents see it and there is less confusion. Moreover, teachers cannot friend students on social media while the student is still in the education system.

One thing I was unaware of was the how a teacher must receive permission for all media related things in the classroom. It must be brought to the attention of the administrator. This is so everything is transparent and informed on. Before learning this information I assumed it would be ok to create an instagram account solely for a project in a classroom as long as it was private. However, now I see that

It’s crazy to think that this is all new territory for us. This is the first real generation where looking at media is part of the hiring process. That every act that has been done is documented and will follow you for the rest of your life. I wonder if students will embrace the fact that their lives are all online too? Maybe it will gradually become a societal norm so no-one will look at my childhood photos that are online and we can all live in a less judged world. Or maybe we will all have to just learn from our mistakes.

Week 7: Sketch Notes, Google Classroom, and Twine

Sketch notes are ideas not art. It consists of visual notes, handwriting, drawings, and visual elements such as arrows. It is similar to a mind map. Sketch noting is good to use because it connects meaning to words which helps recall information later. A study in Waterloo showed that participants that merely copied down word for word notes had a recall of 30% whereas participants that summarized information through shorthanded words and drawings had a recall of 70%. This is because writing is not as fast as typing and forces the participant to summarize which takes more effort to understand. Sketch notes engage the whole mind, verbal and visual! It is a way to take notes in a fun, fulfilling way that allows for creativity. It taps into the visual language and helps students concentration.

The key to sketch notes is to do whatever makes sense personally. This includes the images and verbal cues needed, the fonts, and the pattern in which all the information is organized into.

We also used Google Classrooms. It was my first time using this resource and I found it to be incredibly helpful. I can only think of the possibilities this platform has for classrooms in the future because of the increasing use with technology in schools. It’s an efficient way to share slides, documents, assignments for specific topics within an entire class.

The last platform we worked with this week was Twine. This is an amazing platform that can be used in multiple capacities. It is ideal for creating choose your own adventure stories, or for helping someone choose a product that best suits them. For example, to narrow down specifics of what is desired in a laptop, someone could follow the path to the one that suits their needs best. Students could also use it for other creative outlets such as organizing a DnD campaign. Some key concepts to remember when working with Twine is that the project is stored with cookies. This means that if someone wipes the cookies on a computer all work will be lost. It is important to export the project to a hard drive, like google drive, or email it. Another thing is that it works well with firefox and chrome but not with safari or internet explorer.



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.

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)