Category: TIEgrad (Page 1 of 3)

Inherent Values

Admittedly before I read the article Coding in the curriculum: Fad or foundational? I did NOT think that coding should be considered foundational in education. I am not a coding person; I haven’t spent the time developing the skills and I don’t find it all that interesting.

 

However, coding isn’t necessarily about creating expert coders. It is more about building computational thinking and other soft skills. It enables students create, try, fail, problem solve, adjust and try again. The inherent value of coding is more than the direct connection to curriculum.

 

I am a physical and health educator. I have a bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology and specialized in physical education in my professional development program. I believe participation in physical activity and sports is essential for developing important life skills like perseverance, leadership, teamwork, respect, hard work, time management and many more. Where the article won me over is when it outlined the importance of the skills that are learnt through coding, the same as individuals learn skills through active participation.

With this in mind, why wouldn’t you include coding into education? Why wouldn’t teachers want to include the development of 21st century skills. When students learn to code, they also learn how to communicate with precision and accuracy, as well as creatively solve problems. Additionally, some students may find their passion area, and then be able to pursue coding further.

 

I believe that coding among other digital literacies should be integrated into education, either as a separate course or within other subjects. The more exposure we can give students to a variety of skills with inherent value the better.

 

Images retrieved from the public domain Pixabay

 

References:

Sterling, L., “Session L : Coding in the curriculum : Fad or foundational?” (2016). 2009 – 2019 ACER Research Conferences. 4.
https://research.acer.edu.au/research_conference/RC2016/9august/4 Retrieved from:  https://research.acer.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1297&context=research_conference

Digital Tools, Pedagogy, Communication and Collaboration.

Integrating digital tools into the classroom seems to be the trendiest topic in education. But its more than just using digital tools, its about selecting the best tool that will accomplish a specific task and support an intentional learning experience.

I will fully admit to adding technology for technologies sake in many of my lessons. This was not intentional, but a result of me not fully understanding how the technology works and how it could be applied in the lesson. For example, getting students to use a digital platform to post a written composition of their understanding is no different than them writing a paragraph in class.

 

FEAR NOT! This is not the only way to inte

grate technology, digital tools or social media platforms. There are projects and assignments that allow students to use digital tools to create something new and unique AND help them understand course content on another level.

Now here’s the part of the blog where you (the reader) thinks I have all the answers. Well I’m sorry to say I do NOT. However, here are a few of my attempts (both good and bad) to intentionally and meaningfully integrate digital tools into my students’ learning.

 

HISTORICAL CHARACTER PROFILE: Students were given a character description of rebellion leader from some point in 20th century history. They then created a name, profile, and background for that character on a social media site such as: instagram, snap chat, twitter, facebook, or tik tok. Students did not have to post the profile but did have to format it in the same way. After creating the profile, students had to make several posts/entries about the time in history that this character existed. For example, if they were apart of a political protest, the students would create a post about that event.

 

KAHOOT: Kahoot is a favorite of my students, so I thought I would flip its use from me testing their knowledge, to them showing me their understanding. Although it was fun, I found that kahoot was not a great demonstration of their understanding. However, it was a great way to get to know students and share a li

 

HOW TO VIDEO: I have used the how-to video format in several ways. In physical education I have students teach me a sports skill of their choice. This allows me to see the physical skills, but also makes students think about how a movement skill is broken into steps. The other way I have used the how-to video is in inquiry. Students were asked to learn a new skill and then create a step by step instructional video to teach someone else their new skill.

I think the most important thing as teachers we can do is TRY! Try new things, implement technologies and digital tools and see what happens. The only way we can build skills to integrate digital tools purposefully into educational pedagogy is to try. I do not know about you, but I learn the most when I make a mistake. Moving forward in my teaching I plan to fail often when it comes to integrating digital tools.

Second most important thing that educators can do is to make connections with students out-of-school experiences. This is a hard one, because in a class of 30 individuals it is challenging to personalize the lesson to each student. This is where CHOICE comes into play. The more choice students are offered the more likely they will be engaged in the content.

THIS IS AN IDEAL AND SHOULD NOT BE AN EXPECTATION OF ANY TEACHER.  I know how hard it is to create an assignment that allows choice, while at the same time meets the same learning outcomes. Communication and collaboration are a challenge in the digital learning environment. However, the continual discussion and experimentation with various digital tools is key to improving and evolving pedagogy.

 

 

Images retrieved from the public domain Pixabay 

Safety First

Safe learning spaces are a key to education. How can we (as educators) expect our students to learn if they do not feel safe. This idea applies to both in person classrooms and digital spaces. When teachers create a safe learning environment – whether in person or online- it allows students to participate freely and engage with their education.

However, there are some things that teachers need to think about. First, it is our responsibility to create the safe space. When looking at setting up digital spaces, this means knowing what data is being collected and where it is being stored. Even before we present the digital space to students, we need to ensure that we are taking EVERY precaution to keep them safe. It is becoming more and more common that digital tools, and platforms will take user information for their own purposes. Unfortunately, this means that students are becoming increasing complacent with allowing others access to their personal information. I believe this stems from a lack of knowledge in why privacy is important and how the data is being used. Second, it is the teacher’s responsibility to educate their students on the data privacy and protection as well as what their rights as individuals are. How will students understand their personal safety in online environments if they are never taught?

As online spaces evolve, teachers will have to continually learn how to create safe learning spaces. It is no different than an in-person classroom. If there was a leak in the roof, you would move you class to a different space until it could be fixed. You would make sure that any personal information of your students was stored in a secure location, with limited access. Safety is key when building learning environments for students and teachers.

Passive Recipient vs. Active Participant

They say, everything you need to know, you learned in kindergarten.  It’s simple really, be decent, thoughtful humans.

What blows my mind is the fact that we don’t implement more “kindergarten” in everyday life. Think back to when you were 5 (ish), and how amazing it was to be in kindergarten. Almost everything was new, there was a deep desire to learn and grow, and fun could be found in the simplest tasks. Yet as we grow, both society and the educational system asks us to change, to follow rules, to sit still, to absorb information from the world without really interacting with it.

 

Then for some bizarre reason we expected students and young people to be creative and innovative thinkers. To connect with materials, deeper their understanding and take ownership of their own learning. Even though for 12 years of their life they have been taught to sit at a desk, listen to instruction, fill in a worksheet, and regurgitate meaningless facts on the test.

[This is not meant to insult any educators but is more to address a failing educational system where many great and amazing teachers are trying to make a difference. I recognize and appreciate the enormous amounts of effort teachers put into every lesson.]

 

So, how can we radically change our classrooms (K-12) to incorporate creative thinking, problem solving and engagement in learning? LET’S GO BACK TO KINDERGARTEN!!

 “The kindergarten approach to learning” (Resnick, pp. 2, 2007)

Kindergarten uses play as a learning tool and allows students to create and develop in areas of interest. Does this mean we pull out the crayons and play dough in high school? Absolutely not, we as teachers need to use age appropriate technologies to incorporate play, inquiry and exploration into every grade level.

“If older students are going to learn through the kindergarten approach, they need different types of tools, media, and materials.” (Resnick, pp. 2, 2007)

Can this change happen overnight? NO, this shift in how we engage students in the classroom will take time. At some points it may even feel like we (as teachers) are fighting an uphill battle to change a factory like education system. BUT this doesn’t mean we can’t take small steps towards a larger goal. In order for students to become creative thinkers, we as educators “need to provide them with more opportunities to create.” (Resnick, pp. 3, 2007)

There is a huge difference between being a PASSIVE RECIPIENT OF KNOWLEDGE and an ACTIVE PARTICIPANT IN LEARNING. The key is shifting from interacting with materials to creating and designing. There are many opportunities to encourage creativity and innovation, especially with the increased access to various digital tools. A quick internet search for ‘tools to develop creative thinking’ will bring up a number of sources and activities to try with students. However, I believe the most important take away is that educators recognize the value of kindergarten like education for students in every grade. And then, take steps towards integrating play, inquiry, exploration, and creation in the classroom.

 

Images retrieved from the public domain Pixabay

 

References:

Resnick, M. (2007). All I really need to know (about creative thinking) I learned (by studying how children learn) in kindergarten. In Proceedings of the 6th ACM SIGCHI conference on Creativity & Cognition (pp. 1–6). New York, NY, USA: ACM. http://dor.org/10.1145/1254960.1254961

The most important things we can teach students.

B.C. curriculum highlights 3 core competencies: COMMUNICATION, THINKING, and PERSONAL & SOCIAL.

These areas are believed to give students all skills needed to be successful humans. These competencies can be seen in every sub-discipline in education and are easy to recognize in any given lesson plan.

However, there are some discussion on which of the 3 are most valuable. I would argue that critical thinking is an integral skill that students need to function in a highly digitized society. Let me explain. Students are constantly bombarded with information, through internet searches, social media and the remarkable invention we call the ‘smart phone’. With all these resources just a swipe or click away, students are at a point where they need to be critical thinkers. Especially when it comes to evaluating sources of information.

Critical Thinking enables students to evaluate, analyze, question and implement ideas into their own understanding. Yes, each of the core competencies are important to having a well-rounded, life-long learner, but critical thinking allows students to develop as individuals.

Now how do we do this? As educators we have the unique opportunity to teach important 21st century skills like critical thinking. So here are a few digital tools and resources that may just help integrate critical thinking into your classroom.

 

WEBSITES:

 

VIDEOS:

 

 

 

 

Critical thinking skills influence students’ perspectives and enables them to develop deeper, meaningful understanding. When students are critical of the information they receive, they are better able to form educated thoughts and ideas. Students then become active participants in their learning and can take ownership of their education. Rather than imposing ideas onto students, educators need to teach students the skills for them to create understanding and perspective.

 

References:

BC’s New Curriculum. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://curriculum.gov.bc.ca/competencies

Learning Resources. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://studentvote.ca/canada/classroom-resources/

Teaching in a Pandemic

If you don’t already know …  we are in a PANDEMIC! That’s right people, a full blown, stock up, quarantine yourself and avoid all physical contact, pandemic.

Now, lets add a few curve balls into the mix:

  1. Entire countries are on lock down to combat the virus.
  2. BC has suspended face-to-face teaching indefinitely.
  3. Everyone has been told to self-isolate to curb the spread of Covid-19.
  4. You can’t find toilet paper, tissues, hand sanitizer or disinfecting wipes in any stores.
  5. Its Spring Break (at least for my district).

 

Let’s start with a few key issues I have.

  • I’m a little bitter that the announcements of school ‘closures’ (for lack of a better word) have come out at the beginning of my holidays- seriously I don’t want to deal with this right now.
  • There is no point in stockpiling goods- most major grocery stores will deliver to your house if you are quarantined – or here’s a crazy thought – CALL A FRIEND
  •  DON’T BE AN IDIOT – TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF AND DON’T PUT OTHERS AT RISK

 

Covid-19 may be one of the larger pandemics in my lifetime, however it is not the first. In my less than 30 years of life, there have been many viruses that plagued the public, in no particular order:

  • Bird Flu / H1N1
  • Swine Flu
  • Ebola
  • Mad Cow
  • Norwalk
  • SARS
  • Zika

And I’m sure there are many more, but these are the ‘big ones’ I can remember. Fortunately, I was not infected by any of these that I know of, but I do remember being affected by the aftermath. My point is, if we as a global community can make it through these, we can make it through this time as well. IF everyone, takes the recommended precautions.

 

Okay, rant over – now let’s get to Teaching during a Pandemic.

Currently there are a lot of questions and uncertainty about what ‘school’ will look like after spring break. Unfortunately, we don’t have answers. This isn’t for a lack of trying, but we honestly don’t know at this point. Even moving forward there will be a lot of trial and error. What we do know, is

  • Wash your hands
  • Don’t touch your face
  • Limit your contact with other people

For educators, we are going to have to get creative, in our teaching and our assignment expectations. WE ARE GOING DIGITAL. Some schools (like mine) are in a better situation than most. 60% of my teaching is done online, the other 40%is face to face. Yes, I will have to rethink that 40% and creatively engage my students so they can continue their learning. BUT I am far less than worried than many of my colleagues. Many teachers must digitize their face-to-face classrooms and instructions. This also means that parents and students must engage with their learning at home – with limited support.

 

Enough with the negative (there is a lot) and let’s look at the positive (not of the virus but society’s reaction)

  1. CREATIVITY: people are getting creative in how they interact with one another, and how they are spending their time.
    For example, Netflix is offering an extension that allows a group of people to stream and converse synchronously while they are in different places.
  2. PROBLEM SOLVING: Teachers/coaches are using different technology to instruct students/players and help those individuals practice and develop skills.
    For example, setting up an exercise competition, using social media to inspire activity, and sending out instructional videos to follow along.
  3. COMMUNITY: Despite social distancing, people are going to aid those in need (while doing so safely). For the most part, individuals are doing their part to help others, while following health recommendations.
  4. OPPORTUNITY: This is an amazing albeit a forced opportunity to integrate new digital technologies into the K-12 educational setting.

The next few weeks (possibly months) of teaching in a pandemic will have its challenges. But as a community of educators, we can collaborate and implement various teaching strategies to address learning during a pandemic. What I DO know is LEARNING CAN BE DONE ANYWHERE!

Digital Literacy Framework

Reflecting on my teaching pedagogy and practices, I believe I have vastly overlooked digital literacy as a teachable subject. Or maybe, its more that I have taken it for granted.

I have assumed that students’ either already know these things, or that it is being taught by another teacher. Primarily I teach physical and health education and social studies. And since my passion area is physical education, I (unfortunately) rarely think past developing physical literacy. (Which let me tell you is a desperate need in the student population that I see.)

However, this does not excuse my lack of attention to extremely important digital literacies. Moreover, I need to take more of a responsibility teaching these skills to my students and integrate digital skills into both social studies and physical and health education.

Looking specifically at BC’s digital literacy framework, I believe it brings up many important points in key aspects of digital education. However, I think something that could be added would be practical and effective integration into different curriculum. Especially, for teachers like me, who need help integrating these skills into the everyday classroom. Additionally, integrating digital literacies with the intention and purpose of teaching skills.

Another area that I think could be improved in the digital literacy framework is making it applicable for students outside the realm of education. In my experience, skills and ideas taught in school, don’t always transfer to students’ real life. If we want students to become quality digital citizens, then we need to teach them with examples from their life outside the classroom. Specifically, I am thinking around social media, and creating a digital footprint that they won’t be embarrassed of when they are adults.

Digital Literacy is an important set of skills that students will need. However, as a teacher I feel like I need additional support in integrating these skills into my courses and more importantly making them relevant for students.

References:

B.C.’s Digital Literacy Framework

Digital Story Telling

Digital story telling is commonplace at this point in time. Socializing, friendships, relationships and even professional encounters take place on a digital platform. Not to say that face to face communication isn’t involved in these areas, but digital communication is becoming more and more “the norm”.

This can be seen in the increased use and development of various social media platforms, as well as the attempted integration of technology in the educational system. Once again, education is behind the curve of social change. However, this is a very exciting time to be a teacher. Not only do I have a vast array of digital tools at my disposal, I am also encouraged to take chances and implement them into my classroom. Moreover, it is almost expected that I educate my self on how to effectively use these tools.

 

This leads to how teachers, students and the larger class can communicate their thoughts and ideas through digital story telling. Instead of listing the multiple resources available, let me demonstrate using one of my favourites, Powtoon.

Powtoon allows students to create a video, without having to film themselves. I find this very useful for students who are hesitant to record themselves or their voice for an assignment. Check out this link, to my powtoon.

https://www.powtoon.com/c/eLP9E5XrPdk/1/m

Digital storytelling allows students to be creative and develop connections with the material in order to display their knowledge and understanding. Digital story telling is an amazing tool, and the sooner educators get on board the better.

Sharing is Caring

The beautiful thing about talking with a group of teachers is the amount of sharing that goes on. You share the wins and the struggles. You share your ideas, and your goals. Most importantly, you share your wildest dreams you could see in an ideal classroom.

 

As I look towards building my masters project, it is great to share ideas and goals with colleagues. Specifically, which areas are being researched for literature reviews.

 

The challenge is that it brings up too many great ideas to pursue. Some spoke of how to integrate First Nations principles into their classroom, and others are looking into how artificial intelligence can engage students to be active learners.

Personally, my ideas for literature have shifted with every conversation I have had with a colleague. My big idea is to examine how to actively engage students in an online learning environment. However, I have branched into blended learning, engagement strategies, flipped classrooms and the influence of technology. Now I want to pursue multiple intelligence and see how valuing and evaluating multiple intelligence can engage a variety of students.

Its challenging to stick with one idea for research when there are so many interesting avenues to pursue. Thankfully, there is plenty of opportunity to collaborate and discuss ideas with classmates and colleagues.

Sharing ideas is one of the greatest aspects of being both a teacher and a masters student.

Collaboration is KEY!!!

As an educator I find that there is nothing more important than collaboration. Firstly, I have learned more from talking with other teachers, than I did in any course or class I have been in. Not to say there is not a place or time for course work, as there are important academic elements and theories that educators need to know. However, for the practical implementation and pedagogical development, I have found COLLABORATION IS KEY.

I am very fortunate to share an office space with my colleagues. This leads to many impromptu meetings and collaboration sessions. And more importantly the rambling brain work of creating amazing things that could be done in our school. Not only does collaboration give you the space to develop ideas and be creative, it is also a great sounding board and provides a committee for problem solving. I have spent many a lunch hour proposing issues and getting incredible feedback and ideas for solutions. I have found that the community of teachers/colleagues you surround yourself with is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT to becoming an effective educator.

Now although I benefit from a supportive group in the building, there are many ways to develop a collaborative community outside of your school building. For example, participating in social media with fellow professionals, or building relationships through educational endeavors.

This week in class, we participated in an Ed Camp – where we were able to meet in small groups and discuss topics of interest. I spent the time in a group discussing blended learning and online learning environments. From this discussion we elaborated on how the U-Connect program works and some of the challenges and barriers we face.

The recurring theme was the idea that students don’t have the skills to navigate online education when they enter school and that success rates in online learning could be better. After some discussion, the U-Connect teachers came up with an idea to create a 2 credit course that teachers all the practical skills required to be successful in an online education program. If we had not had the opportunity to collaborate and discuss blended learning with a larger group of teachers, we would have never developed the idea to prepare students for online education in an independent course.

COLLABORATION IS KEY. Period. The end. It allows educators an opportunity to become better professionals and better educators. It also allows programs to change and adapt for the needs of their students.

Images retrieved from the public domain Pixabay.

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