Summary of Learning

I can not believe how quickly this semester has gone by! I’ve truly enjoyed EC&I 833, thanks to Alec and all of my peers! When Jayme and I began planning for our summary of learning project, we had initially planned to create a video and audio recording using VideoScribe. However, after experiencing some difficulty with this program, we decided we were not going to waste any more time and select a different approach. After speaking with a co-worker within our school, he encouraged us to try doing a podcast. Jayme and I had never performed a podcast before, so we decided to step out of our comfort zone and said “let’s do it”. We downloaded a program that allowed us to record and save our podcast. We also used a super fancy microphone which contributed to the clarity in our recording. Despite having to change our original plan for creating our summary of learning project, Jayme and I had a lot of fun creating our podcast! We definitely recommend people try doing a podcast if they have not done so already. It is truly an enjoyable and creative way to reflect on a learning process. By clicking on the link below, you will be able to listen to our podcast. We hope you enjoy it! Thanks everyone!

Let us explore the possibilities VR and AR brings to education!

Last week, Logan and Bill gave a wonderful presentation about Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality. They also introduced a variety of tools and apps that can be integrated into the classroom and/or workplace. Before Tuesday evening, I had very little knowledge about virtual reality and augmented reality, therefore I benefited greatly from Logan and Bill’s presentation. In fact, my only exposure to virtual reality was when I was in Disneyland, California. My sister and I were on a holiday together and we decided to go on a few virtual simulation rides. Although these rides were intense but enjoyable, I discovered I physically could not tolerate virtual simulation rides as afterwards I had my head stuffed into a garbage can, nauseated from the fast paced movements. Despite my motion sickness and fear of heights, I’d have to say my favorite virtual reality ride was Soarin’ at Disneyland California Adventure Park. This particular ride depicts a flight motion simulation. Beyond soaring over breathtaking wonders throughout the world, this simulation also presents the feeling of wind as well as the fresh citrus scent of oranges as you soar over an orchard field. You really do feel as though you are physically present within these locations, it is amazing!

Other than for entertainment purposes, such as Pokemon Go, SkyView, and Sky Map (which are all different apps for augmented reality), I had never really thought about how I could integrate virtual or augmented reality into my teaching. However, after listening to Logan and Bill’s presentation, I learned there are apps which can be integrated into the classroom. Aurasma is an app which supports all forms of digital content, creating a unique augmented reality experience simply by pointing a device at an image, object or location. Although I would need to spend more time familiarizing my-self with this new app, I can see it has potential to be used within my primary classroom. For instance, Rochelle shared her experiences using Aurasma when conducting book reviews with her students. By using Aurasma, her students are able identify particular books using an Aurasma sticker, which is pre-programmed.

Anatomy 4D is another app I was recently introduced to. I found this app to be very neat and interesting. Also, it seems relatively easy to use. Anatomy 4D presents teachers and students with the ability to learn about the human anatomy in an interactive 4D experience. Anatomy 4D is definitely an app I can see my-self using to assist in my health and science lessons. It is interactive, engaging and the students would find the screen shots very appealing. However, the only challenge I can think of at this point would be to use my personal cell phone or the classroom IPads for this app as I do not allow my primary students to bring their cell phones to school with them.

Overall, I do see potential to integrate virtual reality and augmented reality into my classroom. Within my school, I consider my students to be privileged as they have access to laptop computers and IPads. However, we must not forget about the disadvantaged students within our division. Factors which include geographical location or lower socio-economic status contributes to students not being presented with equal opportunities for learning. Therefore, how can we provide a virtual or augmented reality experience to only some of our students? It comes as no surprise that we are facing a digital divide within today’s society. How can we bridge the gap in order to create equal opportunities for all students? Although virtual reality and augmented reality provides both teachers and students with new opportunities for experiential learning, this is only possible when we have the necessary resources to utilize.

Assistive Technology for all learners

On Tuesday evening, Launel, Benita, Holly, Allison and Heidi educated our class about Assistive Technologies and included helpful tools that may be integrated into the classroom/work place. I appreciated the interesting perspectives they shared about assistive technology and felt inspired when I heard that assistive technology is beneficial for all people. Initially, assistive technologies were created to assist those with disabilities. However, we have learned that the true purpose of assistive technologies are to aid/help people who require additional assistance with completing a specific task. Therefore, its usage is not simply narrowed by a diagnosis.

After class, I began to reflect on my experiences using assistive technology and the current ways I am integrating it into my primary classroom. As I reminisce about my educational experiences growing up, I do not recall assistive technology being used and do not know why it was not being used. Perhaps it was due to a lack of funding within the school division or maybe teachers felt their students did not require its use. Either way, I find this disappointing as assistive technology provides enrichment, supports all learners, builds confidence, reduces anxiety and stress and allows students to work at their own pace. Furthermore, assistive technology may be accommodated in all curriculum tasks.

Within my primary classroom, I am currently using a program called Read & Write for Google. This program does not require a specific diagnosis in order to be used. Any student may use this program and benefit from its features. I find this program to be effective as it boosts confidence for reading and writing in students. Initially, I began to use this program as I have a student in my class who requires assistive technology to support her learning experience. However, this program has proven to be beneficial for many of my students, regardless of whether they “need” it or not. I use Read & Write for Google as part of my literacy lesson every morning; developing skills for building complete sentences, writing with expression and editing spelling/grammar errors. All of my students enjoy this program. They particularly adore the speech input (speech to text) feature as well as the read back feature. By integrating this program and providing access to all of my students (and not just to the ones who need it on a daily basis), I am creating an environment where assistive technology is welcomed by all and no one feels embarrassed or segregated for using it.

Some other assistive technologies currently being used in my classroom are timers, standing desks, swivel chairs, and fidgets. Many of these tools allow children to concentrate while being able to move around, keeping their bodies busy. Personally, I have never really been able to sit still for long before my mind begins to wonder, therefore how can I expect my students to do so? Amy mentions in her blog this week, “It is helpful for me to be in a comfortable space, and have the ability to move, if those things are not possible, it is important for me to have the ability to tap my toes, and if there is something I can fidget with, I will do it”! I value her honesty as it is sometimes difficult to expect our students to sit still and focus when in reality adults struggle to do this for long periods of time. Brain breaks are important for our students in order to relieve tension, get their bodies physically moving, and regain focus. Within my classroom, GoNoodle is used often as part of our brain breaks. For those of you who teach primary grades, I suggest you “join the movement” as this program is fun and engaging!

What are some assistive technology tools being used in your classroom? Which tools have proven to be most effective?

Digital tools to teach and assess by.

Finding effective assessment tools and strategies can often be a difficult task as we have learned that not all tools serve the same purpose and are not suited for every grade level. On Tuesday night, we had the opportunity to listen to an informative presentation on assessment tools and were challenged to include a new digital assessment tool in our classrooms this week, discuss our experiences using them, as well as speak about the assessment tools we are currently using in our classrooms. Unfortunately, it has been a short week due to Remembrance Day and Professional Development for Teachers. Therefore, I will speak about the digital assessment tools I am currently using as well as the tools I would like to try and integrate into my classroom.

Within my professional practice, I have always made an attempt to stay up to date with the most recent software programs and apps. As a teacher who uses technology often within my daily life and teaching, I am always searching for programs that may be useful within my classroom and for my students. Kahoot is an online program I have grown accustomed to. Although it creates somewhat of a competitive environment, I’ve always found it to be fun, encouraging as well as engaging for my students. It is also a wonderful pre-assessment tool that may be used at the beginning of a new unit (to examine the students previous knowledge about a topic) or for reviewing learned content. Kahoot can also be used as a formative assessment tool and can assist the teacher with identifying students who have grasped concepts and the students who have not.

Being with Regina Public Schools, a summative assessment tool I use is called Gradebook. Gradebook is a component of PowerSchool. It provides an online environment where I can store my marking/final grades, comments, information/observations about students and record attendance. Parents and their children now have access to PowerSchool, they may view their assignments and grades as well as their attendance record. Furthermore, this program provides an opportunity for both teacher and parents to be informed about their child’s progress and learning experience. Although my experiences using Gradebook have been positive, my primary students are not familiar with this digital assessment tool as they are too young to benefit from its purposes. As for their parents’ experiences using this assessment tool, I am unaware of their thoughts or opinions about this program as it is not a conversation that arises often. Therefore, I have noted this and will make a valid effort to pose this question at the next Parent-Teacher conferences. As previously stated, Gradebook is a digital assessment tool therefore it can only be accessed online. Hence, families who do not have access to the internet will not benefit from this program and its features.

ClassDojo is an assessment tool I have not used but would like to use within my primary classroom. This digital program may be used as a formative assessment tool and is effective for building a confident and constructive classroom community. ClassDojo may be accessed by teachers, parents, and students.

Advantages of using ClassDojo:
– Children are able to display their work by creating their own digital portfolio
– Children are given a voice
– Parents can be informed about their child’s progress and learning experiences
– ClassDojo creates a fun and interactive community where each student is displayed as a cartoon character

Disadvantages of using ClassDojo:
– This program may only be accessed online
– Reward system- good behavior=rewards

Overall, we have learned that assessment needs to remain specifically focused on the student. As teachers, before we evaluate student learning we need to take the time that is needed to research and find assessment tools and strategies that are student focused. Students are proving to teachers every day that learning takes place in many different forms and is not narrowed to one specific way. Therefore, teachers should be integrating assessment tools that help us learn more about our students that go beyond simply identifying the students’ strengths and weaknesses.

What are some digital assessment tools used in your professional practice? How do you integrate them? Do you find these digital tools effective for all areas of assessment?

From ancient to modern technology…a summary of Web 1.0/2.0/3.0

After this week’s presentation, I am left to ponder whether I truly understand the meaning of Web 3.0. As a teacher and a student, I feel confident in my abilities as a Web. 1.0 and Web 2.0 user. I believe this to be true due to the progression of the internet as I grew up using it. My earliest memory of using Web 1.0 began when I was in high school, I learned how to navigate my way around the net simply by using Google. Although at this time, the only purpose for using the internet was for conducting research for school work. Shortly after, Web 1.0 transitioned into Web 2.0 and I found myself using the internet for much more other than just for research. Although I do not consider myself to be an expert at using Web 2.0, most of my exposure to the web resides here and I am comfortable communicating, collaborating and sharing on the web.

As Erin summarizes in her blog this week:

Web 1.0
– a static web
– students consume content online
– read-only ecology
– goal is to make information available for Internet users
– a “good student”, according to Web 1.o, is someone who understands how to use search engines and uses the information from websites to enhance their learning

Web 2.0
– dynamic web
– students are producers, not simply consumers of information
– read-write ecology
– goals are to connect, communicate, and collaborate with others online
– a “good student” is someone who communicates, connects, and collaborates on the web. A “good student” is someone who uses the web to create and share content

Web 3.0
– reinvention of the web
– community generated content
– personalized, self-determined, interest-based learning
– a “good student” is someone who is a self-determined, interest-based, networked learner

According to Gerstein, “The web influences people’s way of thinking, doing and being”. I believe this metaphor to be accurate simply because the web is definitely an influential tool. People often use the web daily within their lives and have become reliant upon it. In fact, social media has become one of the primary reasons why people choose to use the web and I am sure we can all agree that social media is influential. The web also impacts student learning. Teachers are granted with the opportunity to utilize the World Wide Web within their teaching practices but for some, this change may bring hesitation as not all teachers feel comfortable using it. Perhaps this is due to a lack of professional development or some teachers feel that the traditional forms of teaching are just as productive, without the need to incorporate Web 2.0 or 3.0. Certainly, the needs of our learners has drastically changed over time as not every child obtains information the same. Therefore, we must remain open to the idea that maybe the web can provide additional support to those who need it. Furthermore, experiencing Web. 2.0 and 3.0 may be beneficial and a constructive reality.

I feel very grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in last week’s EC&I 833’s twitter chat lead by Erin, Kyle, Naomi, Angus and Heidi. Not only did I find the chat extremely useful and productive, but I also found that it helped me to better understand the content surrounded around Web 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0. I appreciated reading the responses from my classmates as well as my co-workers. Everyone’s thoughts and opinions were inspiring and helpful.

Within my primary classroom, I often make an attempt to incorporate technological learning into my daily lessons. The internet offers a wide range of educational resources which can be used to assist in our teaching. I consider myself to be a privileged teacher as my classroom has 5 laptop computers and 2 IPads available for student use. However, the resources available to my students outside of the classroom is unfortunately out of my control. I’m sure there are several students in my classroom who do not have access to technology or the internet within their home. Currently within society, disadvantaged students consists of the lower-socio economic status groups as well as those who do not have the opportunity to work with technology because of barriers such as funding or for policy reasons. As we’ve learned from class as well as from the twitter chat, technology and the internet has truly widened the playing field but it is only valuable to those who have access to it.

My experience with using online tools

This past spring, I completed my first online course with Alec Couros and Katia Hildebrandt. Before then, I had very little experience with technology and online tools used for learning. Google and Facebook were pretty much the only reasons I relied on the internet. However, with help from Alec, Katia and my classmates, my experience with using technology has drastically improved. In fact, I am still discovering new ways to use online learning tools that are engaging and beneficial. Last semester, I was exposed to the Blogging process for the first time. I was also introduced to Zoom, Twitter and Google+. Luckily, these are the same online learning tools we are currently using in EC&I 833. However, I have also discovered new tools which prove to be user friendly and are appealing to both teachers and students.

I truly enjoy using WordPress and find the blogging process quite simple and fun. Blogging allows people to demonstrate their understanding of content as well as share their thoughts and opinions about particular things. Furthermore, blogging has played a major role in education. It is used within the high school and university level and provides an effective way of sharing information and discussions. Blogging presents people with the opportunity to become storytellers in a creative yet professional manner. The most attractive feature about writing a blog post is the ability to include additional research as well as media sources within your writing. By doing this, you are demonstrating a deeper level of understanding as well as providing insight to support both your thinking and learning. Blogging is definitely an online tool I would use if I taught an online class. It presents an effective way of displaying information and allows the students to keep track of their learning as each post is automatically saved and easy to retrieve.

Twitter is another online tool which I have found to be effective. At first, the “tweeting” process seemed difficult to do. Turns out, it is simple and very engaging. I enjoy following my classmates, instructors, co-workers and other people within my profession and appreciate the information they tweet. Twitter allows people to share information, take part in discussions, collaborate ideas and is a productive tool for building your PLN. Twitter is not an online tool I’d like to specifically use within my classroom as my students are too young to benefit from it. However, if I taught an online course to adults I would definitely recommend using this tool. Some instructors may view Twitter as ineffective when it comes to the evaluation process, yet it still remains an effective tool for a person to grow professionally.

Zoom is an online tool which I am now familiar with as I have had the opportunity to use it within both of my online courses. I find Zoom to be a beneficial tool as it allows people to connect visually and learn together in a small or large group setting. While using Zoom, a sense of community exists and I appreciate this aspect. People logged into Zoom are presented with the opportunity to listen and share information. I also find the chat to be a wonderful feature of Zoom as many people are not comfortable sharing aloud, therefore they can share information in the chat and still remain an active member of the community. If I taught an online course, I would definitely use Zoom as an online tool as it user friendly and affordable. Moreover, evaluating student learning may be evident as the instructor is able to see, hear, and read topic information being shared.

Google+ is definitely one of my favorite online tools. This tool has many positive features which may be used within the work place or for school. I rely on Google+ to communicate information and keep me up to date within my professional practice and my educational network. Google+ is great for collaboration, sharing and storing information and projects, keeping track of information and deadlines, as well as organizing student work. Many teachers can benefit from using Google+ as it saves content automatically and provides storage space. Google+ is a tool I’d use if I taught an online course as it offers a sense of community for my students and would allow them to communicate questions or concerns.

Screencast-O-Matic is an online tool that I have recently learned to use. I found this tool to be user friendly as well as beneficial in terms of sharing information. It is a recording software program that can assist people who are not comfortable verbalizing within a public setting. Instead, this recording program can provide people with the confidence they need to share information while presenting visual media sources. As I learned from my group’s presentation, Screencast-O-Matic is also effective for managing time.

Overall, there are many online tools that are engaging and contribute different learning experiences. However, it is important to consider whether or not the tools you decide to use are beneficial to the task at hand. Before taking online courses, I always considered myself to be a “hands on” learner or at least needed to be within a classroom setting in order to comprehend information. I soon realized that I can learn in any setting really, just as long as I am engaged. But I supposed it depends on the person as not everyone obtains information the same. For some, face-to-face interaction provides a better learning experience as having a teacher present provides comfort and peace of mind in terms of being able to ask questions and gain a better understanding about assignments or projects. However, I have found the online experience to be just as helpful as when I have questions or concerns, I am able to contact my instructor or post questions on Google+ and receive assistance from my classmates. Although there may not be an immediate response, I have never had to wait long before someone does respond. In terms of people’s schedules, sometimes online courses are convenient and allows people to learn at their own pace and on their own time. Therefore, I suppose there are both pros and cons to online interaction. What online tools do you use? In your experience, which tools have you found to be effective?

Multitasking…Are we wired for it?

On Tuesday evening, Ashley, Andrew, Nancy, Jayme and my-self presented information about productivity and presentation tools. As we began to brainstorm tools to focus on for our presentation, we were all in agreement that the internet could not be left out. It comes as no surprise that the internet is one of the leading productivity tools currently being used within society. Moreover, the internet provides people with the opportunity to accomplish many tasks; such as paying bills online, accessing information, staying connected to family and friends, shopping, distance education, and watching educational videos. With all of the wonderful opportunities the internet provides us with, it seems almost impossible to function in today’s society without it. With that being said, have we become dependent on the internet? Can we function in today’s society without the internet? 

When I watched the video “Single-tasking is the New Multitasking”, I could not help but to laugh! Not only did I find the video hilarious but incredibly accurate and relatable, specifically in both of my personal and professional life. In fact, while watching/listening to the video, I was checking my work email and Google Docs. I also found myself glancing up at the television, Modern Family was on. I was quite impressed with my multitasking skills. However once the video was over, I sat for a moment and realized that my mind was so pre-occupied by everything I was doing that I might not of fully appreciated the video’s true message. Then I realized, it is extremely difficult for me to simply focus on only one specific task at a time. In fact, I am constantly multitasking in my life. Multitasking allows us to accomplish numerous tasks simultaneously and for many of us, it is often how we get through our busy day. James Hamblin states, “Tabs are a metaphor for life”. I believe this to be true as it is often difficult to be mindfully present on one thing at a time. People’s busy lives are moving at such a fast pace that slowing down to be mindful in the moment may seem challenging to some. Don’t get me wrong, I think it is important for everyone to take a few minutes in a day to model a Tabless Thursday, despite how difficult it may be. Furthermore, we all have the opportunity to make changes in our lives. Perhaps limiting our internet use while at work or at home could be a starting point.

Therefore, is the internet really a productivity tool or merely an endless series of distractions? I believe the answer to this question is yes and no. It is clear the internet is a productivity tool as it offers a wide range of use and enhances learning. However, the internet may only be considered a productive tool depending on the task at hand and how it is utilized. I also believe moderation is key. Many people use the internet for a specific task, whether it be productive or not. The internet has proven to be a productive tool within my life. I am able to search for lesson plans and resources, educational software programs, and activities to support my teaching. However, I am guilty of using the internet for personal pleasure while at home. Focusing more of my attention on the process of single-tasking while on my computer or cell phone may be beneficial in order to manage my time and energy more efficiently as well as improve my work quality. Research has shown us that multitasking “creates and encourages bad brain habits as our brains are not wired to multitask well”. Therefore, changing our wiring by focusing on one tab/task at a time may prove to be worth a try if it will better our health and brain function.