Summary of Learning ECI 831

It was hard but I managed to sum up my learning in less than 7 minutes! There was a lot of tape on the cutting room floor.

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Learning Project Final Reflection

I started with a question:

How can I design a unit of learning that uses technology  to transform learning?

Learning Project Plan:

I enjoyed the four week course but it didn’t exactly meet my needs for my learning project. The course focused primarily on post-secondary educators and on courses that were taught on-line with some face to face time as well.

I was hoping to get ideas and learn about how I could use technology in better ways.  My current use of technology has largely been as a replacement for other technology.  I know that I haven’t used it in a way that transforms learning.  However, I did not get this.  I did though get a major pedagogical refresher.  We read, watched videos and discussed some inspiring ideas on education revolution.   I’ve created a Padlet to put together some of the key ideas I took away from the MOOC, along with some resources.

Overwhelmingly, what I’ve taken away from the course is that Design is a crucial piece for transforming learning.  Technology and social networking are tools to transform the learning process but ultimately the true transformation lies in the instructional design.  Technology can be a powerful tool to transform learning but teachers need the pedagogy to use it with purpose.

My thinking now is centered here:

Teachers need to become architects of designing learning that is 

engaging

personalized

connected to other learners – in person and online

connected to other people – in person and online

Now to design a unit of learning that meets these….

ACTION: Transform an old unit:  You Are What You Eat:   An inquiry into the food and drink we consume

George Couros’s table provides important direction for teachers and schools when deciding how and when to use technology.  I used this quote to help guide the changes I made in a unit I’ve already taught.

Technology is transformative  WHEN: “It gives us opportunities to learn and create in ways that we were not able to before.  We do not only have access to information, but we also create it while connecting and having conversations with people both locally and globally.”

I then re-worked a health unit I taught last year to reflect the pedagogy refresher I’ve had.  I teach from an inquiry based approach.  I use essential questions to guide our learning but the hope is that at any moment, students thinking and wondering will lead us to entirely unexpected places.  The framework is there  for the entire unit but it is also open and flexible.

Below is a chart I’ve made that shows the difference of technology use. I’ve also attached the Google Doc link to the unit plan.   Because I’m not in a classroom this school year, I wanted to do something right away with what all that I’ve learned so I wouldn’t forget it.  I’m so excited to teach this unit again.  It was a good unit before, but it was missing the connections – connections to their classmates, connections to our community and connections to outside of our community.  I also see how this kind of work doesn’t take a ton of extra effort and really, it is only logical and just makes sense.  I think this unit is an excellent example of learning that is real, important and problem based.

Old Unit Refreshed Unit
Used YouTube to watch a TedTalk Watch the Ted TalkStudents create a ‘piece’ (various options and tech tools to choose from) to share with the world their opinion on an idea to improve our poor eating habits – to change minds
Did not use Facebook and Twitter Students will ask for feedback on topics we’re discussing in classStudents will ask for ideas from othersStudents will share their learning to raise awareness and create conversation
Did not use Skype We will connect with health professionals like: dietician, nurse, doctor, chef, hopefully fingers cross – Jamie Oliver himselfWe will connect with another classroom through Skype in the Classroom who is looking into a similar topic
Did not use Collaborize Classroom, students talked in class or wrote their thinking on paper Students will reflect and voice their ideas and questions in person and/or through collaborize classroom for everyone to have a voice and be heard
Did not curate knowledge as a class Students will work together using personal devices and technology available in the classroom to curate knowledge about topics and share them instantly through on-line white boards like padlet
Did not blogDid not cook or blog Students will reflect on their learning through blogging.They will also document a healthy eating cooking assignment by taking pictures and blogging about the experience – shopping, cooking and eating it.

This is the link to the refreshed unit:     

You Are What You Eat:   An inquiry into the food and drink we consume

Students write a five paragraph persuasive essay in this unit.  Yes this is old school, but students still need formal writing instruction and skills.  I teach persuasive writing in language arts previous to this unit so they have the skills needed to write it.  Below is a link to topics my students brainstormed last year when I taught this.

Essay Topics

I’ve made these documents public.  Hopefully someone else will find them useful.

It’s not the end of my learning project either.  I only have every unit I’ve ever taught that now needs to be infused with this pedagogy.  Which sounds daunting, but really isn’t.  I have to remind myself that change happens in small steps and to some, these changes I’ve made in this unit may seem very small – although are quite huge for myself.  Going through this revision process has proven to myself that these changes are possible and don’t require extra work.

Hopefully you’ll see some of my students work next school year and maybe they’ll even change your mind next time you go to grab a can of coke.

How have I become a more networked professional?

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Image from Alexander Baxevanis shared under Creative Commons Licence

I really feel becoming a networked professional has been the area of largest growth for myself in this class.  Before ECI 831 I hadn’t even considered that I should become more networked.  This term was not on my radar at all.  As I look back on that mindset, I almost laugh out loud at myself.  I was cut off from other educators and cut off from new ideas and sharing resources.  I can’t believe the community that exists ‘out there’ and I’ve been missing it for all of these years!  But not anymore!  I’m now a part of it!

My professional network used to consist of:

  • colleagues I currently work with
  • colleagues I’ve worked closely with in the past
  • a few fellow MEd colleagues

I often felt frustrated by my network. I was frustrated by the lack of professional development.  I was also frustrated by the lack of partnering and sharing of ideas and resources.

ECI 831 has shown me that networking can also happen outside of the people I already know and work with.  Now, my professional network consists of professionals who I’ve never met or worked with, some are located in Regina but most are not. Technology has made it possible for this to happen.  Online, professionals are engaging in conversation, helping one another, sharing ideas and resources constantly.  I now know how to use technology to be a part of this!

The tools I’m currently using are:

TWITTER

I had a twitter account before our class but I never used it.  I didn’t understand twitter and I only followed a handful of celebrities.  My twitter life has dramatically changed.  I know follow 58 people and only 3 of those are not related to education.  I check twitter several times a day.

I love the micro-blogging format of twitter.  It’s quick to read and you can pick and choose which tweets you delve into deeper by reading the article or blog post linked.  There is an  overwhelming amount of professional ideas and resources that are tweeted every day.

Currently, I am more of a lurker or a sponge is more positive sounding term.  I’ve only made 22 tweets.  But I’m fine with this.  I read, read and read.  I also search by hashtags on tagboard.  This suits my purposes now.  I’m sure with time, as I become more confident sharing, I will tweet more regularly.

Google Plus 

I am also a huge fan of google plus.  I’ve joined the Connected Classroom community.  This is exciting – teachers are connecting with one another and classrooms have the opportunity to go on virtual field trips.  I haven’t taken advantage of this yet because I’m on mat leave but I’ve been following the conversation in this community.  I can’t wait to jump in next fall.

I also have started following people in google plus.  I love the app on my phone and check Google Plus after checking twitter.  I have noticed some cross-over, where someone I follow on twitter will also post to Google Plus so I’ll see their posts twice…but it’s just another avenue to share, connect and learn from.

BLOGGING

I was skeptical about blogging but I’ve come around and I do enjoy it.  Writing forces you to clarify and solidify your thinking.  It’s good brain work.  I do plan to continue to blog once I start teaching again.  I’ve been especially inspired by Catlin Tucker’s blog.  She is doing fantastic things with her students and she thoroughly documents it for other teachers.  My goal is to start giving back like Catlin does by sharing some of the things I do in my classroom.

PINTEREST

I’m also amazed at the amount of resources available on Pinterest.  I follow EduBlogs, Edutopia to name a few on pinterest.  Pinterest is another great curation tool of resources! Students from ECI 831 also created a board that we can all view and add to.

I think the most exciting part of being a networked professional is that your network isn’t the end.  My professional network will continue to expand and evolve.  It also merges into other’s networks.  If I need help, I know that someone in my network can reach out to their own network for further support.  The image this brings to mind is a big messy spider web.  My network is in the middle but it is also connected to everyone else’s networks.

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Image from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Dewy_spider_web.jpg Shared under Creative Commons Licence

Open Education and Open Education Resources

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Photo from John Martinez Pavliga shared by Creative Commons Licence 

After listening to David Wiley’s chat with our class I have been doing a lot of thinking about Open Education.

The Open Education movement is about reducing barriers to learning by eliminating cost and designated location/time.  By providing education for free and without pre-requisites or demands on location or time, almost anyone can participate.

My Reactions:

This is exciting.  Reducing barriers means that education, especially higher education, is accessible to ‘all’.  Open Education is an opportunity to end the privilege associated with post-secondary institutions.

However, what does getting credit from Open Education look like?  Companies, career requirements and public perception are going to need to change.  Degrees from universities are a crucial requirement for many jobs. How can Open Education give credit to participants and how can that credit be recognized on an equal play field as the traditional degree?

Access is also a problem as many people around the world do not have a ‘computer’ and Open Education is primarily delivered through the Internet.  Wikipedia  noted ” For example in Bangledesh, it is not affordable to have specific technologies. 17 per 100 households have radio and 4 per 100 have TV…”

The Learning Focus:

Open Education courses require, encourage and support participants to be self-directed inquiry based learners.  Learners work collaboratively with others and form networks to support and motivate their learning.

My Reactions:

I am absolutely on board with the nature of learning in Open Education.  I also strive to design learning experiences that are inquiry based and engage students by having choice.

Self-directed learning can be problematic.  Students most often look to the internet for information and it can be difficult to sift through all of the available content.  Students need to be able to judge quality but even more importantly, they need to be able to read it.  Reading levels at  grade 7/8 range greatly but adults also have a great range in reading levels.  Information found on the internet is not accessible for every learner because of the reading level.

ddrew84 also raises an important point in her blog post.  “The best learning takes place when a person feels inspired to ask a question.  But what if the person who wants to seek knowledge asks the wrong question or looks to the wrong source to collect information?”  Asking good questions is a skill and I’ve had many students ask questions that would not further their learning or would be very difficult to find ‘answers’ to.  The Open Education course would need to be supportive enough to help this learner on their journey to find better questions.

Support Needed in Open Education

In the MOOC I participated in for our final learning project, we had a google hang out with Jesse Stommel and he discussed with us the issue of financially supporting MOOCs and Open Ed.  He said primarily from his experience and research, professors and teachers doing this kind of work are doing it on the ‘side’ and for little or no compensation.  He thinks this is detrimental to the work of Open Education, as it will mean less educators will do it.  Furthermore, the quality of instructors/courses might decrease because of the lack of compensation.  Also, the participants are hurt because the instructor has too many students and not enough time to help.

 Jesse raises some valid points on the need for society to provide more support to Open Learning.

I am just starting to learn about Open Education but I feel very positive about its direction.  I’m especially interested to see what the future will look like for Open Education and Post Secondary Education.  How will those two worlds be joined?

I am also inspired to join the movement.  I plan to start with sharing more of the resources I’ve created for other teachers to use and revise.  I can use my blog and google docs to share.  Open Education Resources also has a spot for people to contribute – check it out!

I’d love to hear from you:

  • What are you thinking about Open Education?  What pros or cons do you see?
  • Do you share your resources?  How do you do this?  

Learning Project: MOOC Completed…Didn’t exactly get what I expected…Now what?

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Photo from Melody Campbell shared under Creative Commons

Personal Learning Project Journey

I started with a question:

How can I used technology and networks to transform learning in my classroom? 

add on:  to also help make positive change in the world…

Learning Plan:

I decided to take a MOOC titled Hybrid Courses, Best of Both Worlds 

I enjoyed the four week course but it didn’t exactly meet my needs for my learning project.  In fact it probably left with me with more questions than answers.  Overwhelmingly, what I’ve taken away from the course is that Design is a crucial piece for transforming learning.  Technology and social networking are tools to transform the learning process but ultimately the true transformation lies in the instructional design.

The MOOC presented several videos and TED Talks around the idea of Designing Learning in different ways.  I’ve created a Padlet to put together some of the key ideas I took away from the MOOC, along with some resources.

My thinking now is centered here:

Teachers need to become architects of designing learning that is 

engaging

personalized

connected to other learners – in person and online

connected to other people – in person and online

Now to design a unit of learning that meets these….

Seems a daunting task.

I think it lies somewhere with Problem Based Learning, Inquiry based learning, and the  20% idea of students seeking learning for their interests for 20% of the day.

I’m trying to sift through all that I’m thinking, sort through the vast number of tech tools available, and infuse digital pedagogy.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on teachers being design architects.  Please check out the padlet I created, there are some good resources and inspiring Ted Talks on the need to revolutionize education.

Just In Time Learning: Final Learning Project What to do Next???

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Picture from Woodleywonderworks shared under Creative Commons Attribution

It’s funny how serendipitous it can feel when you are struggling with what to do next and then you come across exactly what you needed to ‘hear’.  So thank you Ryan Josephson !

Final Learning Project Woes:

Started with a goal:  I knew my learning goal was to change my practice and philosophy on using technology in the classroom.  ECI 831 is helping me to meet that goal, but I also wanted to learn more, so, I decided to take a MOOC called Hybrid Courses: Best of Both Worlds.  I chose this MOOC to learn more about the buzz on flipped classrooms and blended learning and to consider how I could use these practices to transform learning in my classroom.

The MOOC was four weeks and I participated in it fully by contributing to the online discussion forums and doing the readings, watching the videos and started to work on my own planner for teaching a unit.

But I have been stuck for the last couple of days wondering how this translates into a learning project???

I sat down to figure that out and of course procrastinated. So, I went to our course blog hub to see what others have been up to.  Ryan’s post was the first one I read and it was exactly what I needed.

Ryan outlined four steps of a learning project:

“I found a great description of a learning project on Howard Rheingold’s Blog which just happened to be about Alec Couros and The Connected Teacher. The basic idea behind a learning project is this:

1. Learn a skill, concept or idea you know very little or nothing about but that you’re interested in learning.

2. Document the learning. Write about it, video tape, audio record, whatever.

3. Consider all the sources you use to learn. Collect those resources.

4. Take an early baseline snapshot of your understand at the beginning and another one at the end. Compare and analyze.”

I have been doing all of these things!  Now I just need to synthesize them into one ‘location’ or medium.  Although easier said than done when choosing – too many options!!

Thanks for the much needed direction Ryan!

A Breath of Fresh Air

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Tuesday’s session with Alec Couros for our course was refreshing and inspiring.  This is my 9th class that I have taken as I work toward a MEd in Curriculum and Instruction.  I have read too many journal articles and written too many papers to count.  Yes, I have learnt a lot but it is tremendously refreshing to be encouraged to read other types of text and to write in a blog format.  I am permitted to read for my interest and to write for my personal growth (in the areas of ed tech, networking and social media.

The writing I do is for my benefit, and maybe (hopefully), it also benefits someone else.  All of those papers I’ve written sit in a box in my basement and in a file folder on my computer labelled Masters.  Who is benefiting from those ideas?  I use them to inform my choices as an educator and I collaborate with other teachers so they do get shared in those ways.  But largely they are locked up, they aren’t discussed and therefore they do not get to grow and change.

By by blogging and tweeting, ideas are shared.   I was inspired from Alec’s presentation last night to get sharing.  I am always borrowing other people’s ‘stuff’ on the internet and it’s time to start giving back.

I started this afternoon by revising an Inquiry Planner I use with students.   I changed it to reflect some of the big ideas I’ve learnt from being involved in ECI 831.  I wanted the planner to  get students thinking about using networks in social media as resources for their project.  I added a section where students consider ways to share their learning with others.  This is new for me.  I’ve always been very traditional with my approach.  Students have presented in class, made posters and presented to other classes.  I almost laugh at myself now for not tapping into the power of online social networks!  I also added a technology piece that I will continue to add good resources to.However, I don’t want this section to get too big as I know from my own experience, too many choices leaves me feeling overwhelmed.

I uploaded the document to Google Docs and set the viewing settings to PUBLIC! This is my first experience doing something like this.   (Although I did try to google it and had no luck finding the document) .  Here it is!  (I’m also very new to google docs, and can’t believe I’ve been using a flash drive!)

Student Inquiry Project Planner

Inspiration from Alan Levine – http://cogdogblog.com/

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Writing and Storytelling

I like to think of myself as being a fairly good writing teacher.  I am passionate about writing and see writing as vitally important.  It`s the card that students need to learn how to play with to succeed in school – both elementary, high school and post secondary.  Much of what we do in school is based on writing.  Even when we test reading, we are primarily testing students ability to write about their reading.

This could also send me onto another post about how we do school, and the emphasis on writing, needs to shift.

Back to the topic of writing…

I`m always seeking ways for students to publish their writing and to find other ways to express themselves.  I am extremely excited about Alan Levine`s 50 + ways to tell a story.  The wikispace he has created is a tremendous resource for teachers. I will definitely be exploring these options with my students next year when I return to teaching from mat leave.

Daily Creativity and Daily Writing

I believe that students need to write every day to improve their fluency and to explore their ideas and voice.  I`ve used daily writing notebooks in my classroom to help students keep track of ideas for writing about and to practice `good`writing.

Alan Levine`s discussion with our class on Tuesday night got me thinking about creativity.  We know that schools need to move from learning subject knowledge, because knowledge is just a click away about any topic, to learning about how to learn and critically thinking.  How can we foster learning environments that require students to think and to be creative  Alan Levine described some of the assignments he uses in his DS106 course.  They require students to create something new, remix something…be thoughtful and creative.  Alan Levine has also created a Daily Create assignment. He said its important to do something creative every day. It`s a good work out for the mind and the more we do it, the better and quicker we`ll get at being creative.

I highly recommend looking at the assignments, there are great ideas that you can if needed alter to suit your age range.

I`m inspired by this.  Writing is a natural place to explore creativity.  This could be done through daily writing notebooks.  I came across a site that gives a daily writing prompt through the MOOC I`m currently taking.  This could be used occasionally as a resource to get students thinking.  I was also very inspired by Alan Levine`s renaming a movie assignment.  This is a reminder that writing doesn`t always have to happen in sentences and paragraphs.  And this kind of writing  is important creative work for the brain.

I’d love to hear from you:

What are your thoughts about creativity in schools?

How have you explored creativity in you classroom?

What are ways you have used story telling in your classroom?

Teach Typing?????

Teach Typing?????

In the MOOC I’m taking for our learning project, our instructor has created a list of tech resources for educators that either herself or her colleagues have tested. We are to go through them and see which resources would work for our purposes. This typing site got me thinking:

Do students still need to be taught formal typing skills?

What age should they be taught them?

Remember when….I learnt to type in Grade 10 in typing class. Wow, would I have loved to have taught that class! Zero prep! It was on computers – not typewriters Ha! I am a good student and learnt to be a great keyboarder.

Students now have access to technology from the age of 0. They learn their typing skills as coping skills to use the technology. Their habits are firmly developed by a young age. Does this eliminate the need to teach formal skills? I know many adults who don`t use the home row perfectly and get by fine.

What are your thoughts and experiences?

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Photo by Kristin Nador under Creative Commons License

Padlet – A Collaborative Whiteboard / On Line Poster Making Resource

Head to Padlet to check out just how visual this tool is.

My First Padlet – Hyrbrid Pedagogy Padlet 

I’ve created a Padlet to help keep track of the big ideas from the MOOC I’m taking – Hybrid Courses.  It is really easy to use and manage!

Padlet in the Classroom:

I’ve also brainstormed a few other ways Padlet could be used in the classroom.

Firstly, love Padlet, what a great visual collaborative tool!  Ways to use it:

1} Use it as a way to have students introduce themselves (easy upload images)

2) It becomes an interactive white board, students can curate their knowledge on this for particular topics – whole class or in groups – and then come together to share.  This is inspired by Catlin Tucker’s Blog Post on crowd sourcing in the classroom.

3) It could also be used as a brainstorming tool for out of class/on – line portion and then when you meet again you can analyze the ideas and plan for the next step

4) From looking at other examples on the site, Padlet can also be used as a tool to sum up one’s learning or a groups learning.  Sharing what they have learned at the ‘end’ of a learning endeavor.

Have you used Padlet before? In what ways?  I’d love to learn from you.