education

Summary of Tech Savviness

 

Well… this is it. My final summary of learning for ECMP355: Introduction to Computers in the Classroom through the University of Regina. This has been one of the most useful and overall most awesome classes I have ever taken. It could be because I actually really want to be friends with technology, even though sometimes we seem to glitch and not get along.

It was suggested that we create a video of some sort to tell a story of how and what we learned this semester in this class. Dean Shareski, my prof, suggested making an RSA animate style video. I thought this would be a challenge and fun, so I took it on. He gave us a link to a blog that proved to be quite helpful, but there was still a lot of experimentation and problem solving that was involved in making this video.

I started out with making the story line and deciding what pictures to draw for each section of the story. I then had to talk nice to my daughter to borrow her white board and markers. (It worked). Then came the recording. I thought it would be easiest to record the drawings of the pictures using my iPhone so I set it up so that the camera eye was hanging over the edge of the table and I drew the pictures onto the white board that was on the floor. The original film was just over 15 minutes long. This is where I ran into a problem… I couldn’t figure out how to get my video from my iPhone to my laptop for editing. The video file was too large to upload to youtube and emailing it to myself wasn’t working either. I decided to try and upload the file using Vimeo. So after contemplating and trying various methods for a day and a half, this last option worked like a charm.

I then took my video from my vimeo account on my laptop and opened it in movie maker for editing. After speeding it up 3x and inserting audio and narration I had finally completed my project. I then saved it as an MP4 file to upload it to youtube so that I could embed it into my wordpress blog.

After rereading this post, it sounds a whole lot easier than it actually was. Trust me, a lot of time was put into this one. I believe that it is a great example of how tech savvy somebody can become over the course of one semester. After all, before I started, I didn’t have a youtube account, a Vimeo account or know what movie maker was. I’m looking forward to seeing my classmates finally summaries of learning too.

 

 

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Q & A Session with Diana Williams

I had the opportunity to have a questions and answers period with my mentor teacher Diana Williams today. It’s been one busy day, as I had a Google Hangout with her class this morning where I taught them a lesson on friendship and then the interview this afternoon.

It was great to have the chance to connect with a teacher who is using technology in the classroom and to see what it’s like to tackle that terrifying task. Technology can be daunting and down right terrifying, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned by taking my ECMP355 class, it’s to not be afraid of it. After all, if it works it works, and if it doesn’t, it’s not the end of the world.

Building my PLN (Personal Learning Network) has been such a great experience and as teacher Diana said during our interview, “somebody will know somebody that can help.” It all comes down to knowing people and how to connect to the right people for the job. (Dean… you were given the kudos in knowing so many people. I may be calling upon you someday to find someone or maybe as a possible presenter.)

Diana talked about how technology offers students from lower socio-economic status’ the opportunity to see the world and gain those experiences that might not otherwise be possible. This is a great point of view, and a great sense of motivation for all educators to embrace technology and use it to its full potential.

A great big thanks to teacher Diana for the wonderful opportunity and the great feedback. It’s been a slice.

Friendship across the miles

Today has been awesome! I got to finally meet my mentor class in Surrey, B.C. via Google Hangout. The more things I learn about Google, the more I like it.

Teacher Diana and I agreed that this Wednesday would be a good time for me to Hangout with the class and present a lesson on friendship. I felt like I already knew some of the students through their blog posts that I have been reading and commenting on, but this was a great opportunity to put faces to the names. Diana’s grade 4/5 class called me this morning first thing at 9:00 a.m. and we chatted it up. I introduced myself and talked about how important friendship was. I read them the story “Ribbon Rescue” by Robert Munsch to give them a base of what good friendship was about. I also drew some pretty rocking pictures depicting being a good and bad friend for them to distinguish. The students had a good discussion about what being a good friend was and how to not be a bad friend. We talked about feelings and how being a good friend makes everyone involved feel good.

These are the pictures I drew… I admit, I googled “cartoon drawings of …” and found and attempted to reproduce them here. I’m not that great of an artist but I can reproduce if I have to. 20140402-110223.jpg 20140402-110217.jpg 20140402-110211.jpg 20140402-110201.jpg

I gave them a little project to complete on top of it all. I’ve asked them to write a story about a ‘good friend’ and post it to their blogs so that I can read them and comment on them. I can’t wait to see what they will come up with. As an added challenge to the students I asked that they try and incorporate at least 8 ‘ly’ words into their stories as their class is currently learning how to use ‘ly’ words to enhance writing. We’ll see what they can come up with. Let the imagination run wild.

At the end of our session I asked if the kids had any questions for me. Of course they did. They were all random questions, but it gave me a chance to get to know them and for them to get to know me. It makes it fun and a little more memorable that way. I can’t wait to see what they come up with.

google hangout

Exploring WeVideo

Last night I decided to explore WeVideoWeVideo is a site dedicated to making movie making very easy.  This site was mentioned during our ECMP355 class and I thought I’d give it a shot just to see how easy it really was. I was going into the whole experience fairly skeptical as I’ve had problems with making videos before on site that are “user friendly”.

I searched out the site on my laptop and signed up for an account. Sounds fairly easy right? Well then I realized that none of my videos or pictures were on my laptop. I had them all on my phone and realized, “it’s going to take forever to email all these things to myself so I can create a video on my laptop.” Well…. not to worry. There’s actually an iPhone app for WeVideo. I simply downloaded the free app on my phone and uploaded all my videos and pictures that I wanted to use through that. (This saved me a load of time).

Anyway, I then went back onto my laptop and signed back onto the site and BAM! my photos and videos were all there. I watched the short tutorial video and played around with it a bit. This is what I ended up with:

Even though it’s my first ever video, I think it turned out well. I know my children love seeing themselves as the feature actor and actress.

I would strongly encourage anybody new to movie making to try this site out. I’m a newbie making this type of video, so anybody can make this type of video. I think that this would be a great resource for students in middle to upper years to make video documentaries or projects with. It doesn’t take extensive movie making knowledge to operate.

I personally think that I will use this as a teacher to make a video of the year in review and send it to all the students and their families. It would be a nice little memento of their time in my class.

So my questions for you are:

1. Have you used this site to create a video? (because you should check it out)

2. What ways can you see this being a great resource for school? (or anything else)

 

Padlet Power

As part of this week’s tech task we were asked to explore some of the resources that were give to us by Adam Bellow and Steve Dembo during our ECMP355 class. Right off the bat, we were introduced to an amazing site called Padlet. This site is essential a bulletin board. You make different “bulletin boards” where you can store all sorts of different information. It’s possible to link websites, videos, pictures, or documents and each “bulletin board” can be customized by using different backgrounds and choosing the method to sort your posts. Padlet has so many different uses for the classroom. I chose to make a board that has all sorts of different brain breaks available to me at a moments notice because we all know that when students need a brain break, they need it now! I figured that if they were all ready and waiting for me to grab, I’d be more likely to use them. I love how it’s easy to add, delete, and rearrange the board as well. Here is a screenshot of my first board:

Padlet

This will be a work in progress that I can add to anytime I find a good resource. I can see the value in having a central location for all your information when developing lesson plans and units as well.

During our class it was also mentioned that this resource could be used as a sorting activity for kids as it’s easy to drag and drop photos to different areas of the screen and “in a sense” sort them out.

A great big thanks goes out to Steve and Adam. This is a great resource that I will certainly be putting to use.

Does anyone else have any ideas how this resource could be used in the classroom?

Maker movement?

I thought I’d write a post about the maker movement. We recently had one of our ECMP355 classes focus on this topic. It might not be what you think… I know I certainly thought that the maker movement was geared towards the technology that is currently over running our lives, but I was wrong (to some extent). It’s all about making things. Whether it’s a cardboard sleigh, a computer program, or how to build a robot. With society changing and therefore schools changing, as teachers we are faced with helping our students be prepared for an unknown future. Our students have to be ready to adapt and have to have the knowledge and skills to survive in an ever changing world. The maker movement helps students achieve this by giving them the opportunity to build something that is interesting and challenging to them. It proves as an outlet for students to problem solve and collaborate with one another. They have the opportunity to develop new relationships with people who have the same interests. The thing with the maker movement is that we’re all a part of it without even realizing it.

My daughter is actively involved in the maker movement, and I didn’t even realize it. I always knew that she was crafty and liked to sing and dance. I never really thought much about this until after this class. She’s always looking up how to do something on you tube and is currently fascinated with hair and nails. Like I said, I never really thought much about this… she is a young girl after all. But these are skills that interest her that she will have for the rest of her life. Even though the things that she’s interested in aren’t technology based, she does use technology to do research and study up on these topics. Here is a photo of a pen that she made into a flower using duct tape:

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I thought this was so cool. What a neat way for her to express herself. It probably cost me more in duct tape than it would have been to buy this up town, but it’s the fact that she thought of the idea, researched it, and made it herself that intrigues me. I’m very proud of her.

So this week I decided I was going to become part of the maker movement and make something that didn’t involve technology. Well, that’s a little bit of a lie because I got the idea from Pinterest and researched how to do it. This is the original post. But I really did make the rest of it myself. It’s a work in progress, but I am thoroughly pleased with how this turned out.

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(Don’t mind my missing paint. That is thanks to the Hot Wheels Wall Track that wasn’t supposed to rip off paint. Oh well.)

How do you feel about the maker movement? Does it make you want to try something new? As a teacher, how can you incorporate this into your classroom?

And to top it all off… I challenge you all to make something without using technology. (Or as little as possible).

 

 

What if Education was different?

I wonder how many people wish that they could make a difference in the lives of children? I would have to guess that there would be a lot. Now, how many people would like to make a difference in the lives of children by changing themselves? I would have to presume that there would be more people leery about this one. As an educator, would you think that you should change or that the students just need to learn the material that is presented to them, in the method that you choose?

Tonight I had the opportunity to attend a presentation at my local elementary school that was put on by Don Rempel, the superintendent of the North East School Division. This presentation really made me think about the way we educate. Don had the opportunity to go to New Zealand to learn about the initiatives that were being pursued there in regards to education and the Maori people.

maorivillage2

The Maori people are native to New Zealand and have a similar history to those of First Nations students in Saskatchewan. Our First Nations students have low graduation rates and high drop out rates which results in low employment rates and poverty, which is very similar to those of the Maori people in New Zealand. In New Zealand, the initiative is to change the way teachers teach students with the focus being on the Maori students. This was a 5 year plan and it has just come a close this year. The results are amazing. Not only for Maori students, but for all students regardless of race or ethnicity. By focusing on the Maori students, New Zealand schools have changed the way teachers react and interact with students by focusing first on the student and his/her needs, and secondly on the curriculum. Don’t get me wrong, these teachers still expect students to perform and achieve standards, but rather than striving for the final goal of mastering a subject or concept, there are frequent check points, allowing the student to develop a proper knowledge base before continuing to the next item. Rather than having the teacher focus on the class as a whole for the majority of the time, the concepts are given to the class and then the students are divided into groups or given individual instruction to achieve understanding. There is constant feedback and support given to students to give them the extra assurance. I have included a link below to some information regarding the Maori initiative.

http://www.minedu.govt.nz/NZEducation/EducationPolicies/MaoriEducation.aspx

Something that really stuck out to me was “Don’t just think that all students can learn. Believe it.” By focusing on the minority students and making them feel accepted, culture and all, we can make a difference in the lives of these children. These children see teachers as the main support in educational accomplishment; not family or community support; not the educational structures; but the teachers. So give yourself a pat on the shoulder and make a difference in the life of a child by focusing on them as children, rather than the “unfortunate” ones who have been born and raised in hardship. They are all children with the same wonder and curiosity. They need us, let’s make a difference.