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Connecting…

A final focus for my project I wanted to “connect” my students  and myself to the global community as well as connecting my parents to the classroom.

Blogging unlocked the door…

My students have been working hard all semester at learning how to be safe online while blogging and commenting on blogs.You can read our work on Kidblog. The students looked for our digital literacy symbol on our daily visual schedule and were disappointed on the days it wasn’t scheduled.  For the first while we had only parents commenting on our blogs. We were able to connect to two classrooms via #S2SBC on Twitter. There is a google form to fill in with your contact details and classrooms around the world can connect. I was able to share this with my EC&I 832 classmates and they were able to connect their students also. Our class is also waiting on a connection via the Google+ community Classrooms without Borders. This community allowed my students to take a virtual field trip around the world and look at schools if different places. It was an “Edventure!”s2sbc

The students were excited to communicate with other kids via their blogs. It gave me an opportunity to discuss how to respond politely and the importance of asking a question to encourage the conversation to continue. Students were able to watch as email alert notifications came through on the interactive board. Blog connectThey established a procedure (self driven) to take the first 5-10 minutes of our blogging time to look for comments and reply. Once a week we read our connected friends’ blogs and commented on at least two. We continue to use this forum to talk about exciting news, our learning as well as explore any topics we want to learn more about. The progression of the students has been amazing.

My blogging continues to develop. I have a unique perspective as an educator in a Supportive Learning Environment classroom. Sharing this on Twitter has allowed me to connect with educators all over the world. I find myself drawn into Twitter and scanning for more valuable connections. I was honoured to be asked to write for EDWords blog and will be considering this in the new year.

 

Class Story …

This year ClassDojo added a class story (much like a Twitter feed) and this allowed me to connect the parents to what their students were doing and learning about in the classroom. It was well received by the parents. The ClassDojo app also added a chat option so that I can communicate directly with parents on their device. One thing that I really like is that I can have multiple parents sign up (blended families, living with grandparents etc) and send out important announcements so that everyone is receiving the same information.

Parent Communication

I also share the Class story feed with the students as I post and it gives them pride to see themselves and know that their parents are seeing it. Often I will end the post with a prompt for the parents to ask their son or daughter at home about their day at school. I am hoping that this encourages a conversation beyond “How was your day at school?” “Good.”

ClassStoryFeed
In the end it is all about communicating… with our students, parents, colleague and the global community. We need to model and teach respectful ways to give and accept feedback.

 
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Posted by on December 14, 2015 in Major Project

 

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Blogging in a Multi-grade Classroom

For the bulk of my major project I have spent some significant time blogging with my students and have seen tremendous growth. We have had some exciting times over the past few weeks! The benefits of blogging are endless. According to the article Blogging as Pedagogy no matter what grade level, age group and subject area. Blogging supports four primary areas: Reading, Writing, Reflecting and Sharing.

blogging-as-pedagogy

It all started with a note…

I needed to get my parents and guardians on board with blogging and of course needed permission to publish publicly. The blogging letter was borrowed and edited from Budtheteacher.com. My version of the letter is available for you to edit also.

While we were waiting for signed permission slips the students were practicing locating the site, logging in, starting a new post and saving it as a draft. Using KidBlog (click the link to visit us) was the easiest option to allow for a gradual release with the students.

blog privacy

As we began many of them couldn’t get much beyond a few words on the screen in the time allotted. As we progressed the students went back and edited posts and learned how to select a pre-loaded header to add to their post or it often became the subject of their blog post.

1st post sample2nd attempt

The grade 2-4 students experienced very little difficulty generating blog posts. When they became more proficient in writing them, checking for capitals and punctuation we discussed adding a picture to go with their post. This was a great opportunity to discuss creative commons and giving credit to a picture. I showed the students how to use Photos for Class because it downloads with the citation already attached. The older students in the class are able to complete this independently now and know that they can’t just take any picture off the internet.

3rd attempt

Because I have a multi-grade classroom blogging looked a little different at each level. My grade 1 students shared their ideas with the Instructional Assistant to write on a whiteboard. This usually only consisted of a few sentences and the students typed them into the computer on their own. The challenge was that they had difficulty transferring the lower case letters from the whiteboard to the uppercase ones on the keyboard. So for a while we wrote on the whiteboard in all capital letteVoice blogrs. We have access to android devices so to make things easier for the younger students I created a QR code to take them to the login screen and allowed them to use the voice to text option on the devices. This posed a bit of a problem as they had issues with speaking to loudly, softly, quickly or with a speech problem. What they were wanting to say often was not what the program typed. It did create frustration for the students.

One of my grade 4 students was very interested in Youtube videos. He found a viducksdeo at home that showed a duckling and a man. He was amused by it and decided that he wanted to write a blog on ducks and put the video into the blog. He was motivated to write and we worked together to insert a hyperlink into his blog on Ducks.

 

The older students also chose a topic to research and blogresearch blog about. I guided them on safe internet searching and helped them select information that they could include. At this stage it was difficult to teach them about plagiarism. That topic will be covered in future writing classes.

We have published almost all of our blogs and look forward to making global connections. This opens the door to reading and responding while practicing responsible digital citizenship.
 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on December 7, 2015 in Major Project

 

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Behavior Tracking Apps

October – November 2015

My teaching position is in a supportive learning environment classroom. In my classroom I have students who have significant behavior challenges and are on eIIPs.  Each term we are required to goal set with the students and collect data on how they are achieving their goals. Initially in the classroom we were tracking behavior data on an 11 x 17 sheet of paper and then transferring this information to other documents and calculating percentages from there. The information was then funneled into the student communication books which are transported back-and-forth so that their parents know how their day went. As a final step the information is also put into our anecdotal records so that our administrator can see any major incidents that happened during the day. Just as it sounds, it was very time consuming and redundant. Another concern was that it didn’t really provide any feedback for the parents in a clear way. This led me to another part of my major project. So for the month of October and into November I wanted to explore some apps to track student behavior in my classroom and utilize technology to make the process smoother but also find a way to communicate with parents. 

Initially I saw some reviews online of Behavior Tracker Pro and thought it would be a good fit for my classroom. When I went to download the app I noticed that there were several other app options and decided to choose two additional ones – Easy Behavior Tracker and Behavior Tracker.

Behavior Tracker Pro is by far the most expensive of the three apps and I hesitated purchasing it. It was my first choice app as it appeared to provide much of what I needed. It allowed me to take frequency and duration data. It also allowed me to take ABC data ( antecedent behavior consequence), high frequency behavior data and interval data.BTP

This app has the capability to insert a video of the child displaying the behaviour which may be helpful in a clinical situation but in a classroom situation we need to be careful about video taping our students.

I was excited to be able to graph the data which would make it easy for parents to understand but it became too complex with the amount of behaviours we were tracking.

This review highlights all of the capabilities of the app and I was sold on the ability to graph the data to show parents. Unfortunately it wasn’t ideal for our classroom. We ran into difficulties tracking the behaviour when multiple students were experiencing difficulty. We needed to be able to record instantly simultaneous things with different students. This app allows you to focus on one student at a time. I could see it being useful for clinical observations but not in a busy classroom.

The next app Behaviour Tracker that I downloaded actually met most of our needs but was outdated and had some glitches. There was no simple way to get app support as the developer appears to have moved on to other things. I was able to enter my student information and add a picture for quick access. I could also customize the behaviours I wanted to student list1 behaviourobserve. This app allowed me to take data quickly
on several students with a simple touch. I touched the student’s name / picture and a selection of behaviours appeared.

One really great things about this app is that it time and date stamps the behaviour so that you can identify patterns. There is an option to have a timer start when you select an observed beha
viour. This was a good thing in the beginning to track how long a student was ‘off task’ but the timer stays on the screen and doesn’t allow you to select anything else while it is going. This creates the same problem as the Behavior Tracker Pro as you can only focus on one student at a time or gives an inaccurate indication of time (1 second etc) because another behaviour or student was selected.

Behaviours

Another great feature of this app was the ability to indicate the teacher’s response to the behaviour (redirect, intervene etc). This gave me the opportunity to see if my responses were met with a behaviour correction or further off task behaviour.

This app has the ability to generate reports to email to parents but it is in a simple list format with the date and time. I found that this wasn’t very helpful.

 

The final app I explored briefly was the Easy Behavior Tracker. It was a mid priced app and would be beneficial to use in a high school or upper elementary. It was very easy to setup and user friendly however it is more for recording a single incident with a student. It didn’t have the specific capabilities that I needed for charting frequency of behaviours.EBT 3

After reviewing all of these and thinking about student privacy I began to question the use of any of these apps. What access do the developers have to the information? Can they only access information housed on their site or can the mine the app for data?

In order to get something that we could use in time for three way conferences a colleague developed an excel form and it generates graphs to share with parents. Simple and powerful.

 
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Posted by on December 6, 2015 in EC&I832, Major Project

 

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Embracing Technology in the Classroom is NOT Enough

 

I h8583949219ave been spending a lot of time thinking about what i have learned in EC&I 832. One thing that stood out for me was realizing that I thought I was informed and in fact I knew very little. Digital literacy, Digital Citizenship and Social Media all look very different to me after 3 months.

Initially, I felt like I was doing a great job educating my students about being responsible on line by embracing technology and  simply transferring the character education I was doing in class to online behaviour. It is SO much more. Many of my colleagues still feel that they are educating their students by simply embracing technology, this is NOT enough.

It is so easy to say that “I use the Mimio, incorporate videos and devices in my lessons”. Moving beyond this is the challenge. In some cases our students know more about being online than we do. They are using Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Chat Rooms at home and on handheld devices. They are constantly connected and often begin the journey without realizing the digital footprint they are creating. They are growing up in a digital age. What they do and learn now will directly affect them in the future and the frightening part is that age online isn’t as apparent. Facebook policy is that no one under 13 years of age is allowed to sign up, yet I have had grade 2 students send me a friend request.  Parents think that this is a recommendation not a requirement and can lead to things that we want to protect our children from, like bullying but even more serious sextortion. Parents need to be part of the conversation about what their children are doing online but what role do educators have in it?

 

Technology is changing the definition of community we are no longer limited to our neighborhoods and places we can travel to be connected digital citizens can engage with groups that are local and groups that are not geographically connected simultaneously. We need to cultivate 21st century skills within our students and teach them how to manage these connections. The problem is if an educator is not willing to learn these skills themselves chances are the will not cultivate them. Educators need to also be learners.

Students are using digital media all of the time. The students in this video Youth and Digital Learning: Are Kids Different Because of Digital Media? students explain the shift in thinking with digital media. They also explain the disconnect with the generation before them (their parents and often their teachers).

It is critical that we move beyond becoming familiar with the following documents to effectively using them to guide our student’s learning.

Because many schools are shifting to BYOD policies and pushing for integrating more technology in the classroom students need to be able to effectively understand and examine their online activity. There are 5 Reasons You Should Be Teaching Digital Citizenship

  • The gap is growing
      • Most educators embrace new technology without fully understanding the consequences of implementing them Our. students will continue to use them whether or not they’re available at school so teaching them how to use them responsibly is important.
  • Digital footprints are easy to leave
      • Employers and colleges are using online digital footprints to screen potential employees and college admissions. Many students don’t think about what they post online and how it can effect them in the future.
  • It’s real life
      • Our students are accessing technology everywhere and it makes no sense to avoid giving them the opportunity to do it in a real authentic way in the classroom with guidance.
  • There’s a culture of multitasking
      • With increased connection and instant access to multiple things multi tasking or fragmented attention is growing we need to teach students how to regulate and sustain their attention.
  • Content curation is an emerging literacy
    • Students have access to information at all times they need to be taught how to carefully collect site and determine which information is reliable.

Educators need to step out of their comfort zones and work with students to access and connect responsibly. I have struggled with finding my voice in this blog and on Twitter BUT I now have a better understanding of what my students need because of it.

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Posted by on November 30, 2015 in EC&I832

 

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Don’t forget the heart

3643510503This post strays slightly from the posts for the class but I felt the need to reflect. The past week has been an incredibly emotional week. It is been difficult to find time to work on my major project or any additional work outside of my job. I found that I was on a roller coaster of ups and downs and realized that in fact my reading for the week tied into everything that was going on. Being educator is normally an emotional rollercoaster. I am with “my kids” during the week sometimes more than their parents are. It is difficult not to be moved by the children in my classroom. They come to school and share stories of what’s going on at home, other parts of their world, and with their friends. The openness and honesty of these children is sometime shocking. They will tell you why they didn’t eat a meal last night or why they have that bruise or even why they didn’t get much sleep last night.

So because I am an educator my job is emotionally challenging on a daily basis. Add to this the fact that I work daily with students who have behavioral challenges and /or medical diagnosis in addition to what other students may be experiencing. Although as a professional I know what happens during the day with my students is not a personal attack on myself it leaves a mark on me. If they are melting down, angry and unable to self regulate I may be the target of objects or unkind words. It reminds me of the story that I frequently use with my students. I will bring in a fence board perfectly smooth, beautiful and unmarked. Then I bring out the hammer and we talk about how the words we use or our actions impact others. Each time I hit the board with the hammer it leaves a mark. We never know the sensitivity of others and what those words might be that leave a mark. So we should always choose to treat each other with kindness and respect. 3515977739.png

This week my great uncle passed away. He was 97 years old and had lived a very full life. As I listen to the words that people were saying about him and how he impacted their life I began to wonder why do we only share this when someone is gone? Why do we choose to spread the gossip, mean, and nasty things about people? We see it daily on social media. From celebrities, to friends of friends and professionals in our community. Every mistake becomes a scandal and spreads like wild fire in seconds on the web. How different would the world be if we chose to let people know how they impacted your life or if we chose to use social media to spread those good things that happen on a daily basis?

As educators it’s a rare thing for us to know exactly how we impacted the lives of our students. We hope, at least I hope, that I’ve made a difference in the life of even one student in each class each year that I teach. They always say be careful what you ask for but in this case it wasn’t a bad thing. I ran into two former students who are siblings and I had the opportunity to teach both of them in grade 2. They were a few years apart and I taught the older brother first. As we were talking their dad was explaining some of the challenges they’ve had over the past few years in education. The older brother more so than the younger sister had experienced significant difficulties and was kicked out of two schools. I was shocked by this as it wasn’t the kid that I knew in grade 2. He was strong academically, was able to get along with others socially and was intrinsically driven. As I sat with him and talked a little bit about what was going on you could see the disappointment on his face. He told me “you were one of my favorite teachers and I know I’m not doing that good now”. I was faced with a moment of heartache sitting in the middle of a busy restaurant having a 15-year-old boy crying because he felt he disappointed his grade 2 teacher. I reminded him of all the wonderful things I see in him. The potential to do great things. The kindness and love that he shows for others and the support he still has from me. When I left him I made sure that he knew where to find me and that if there’s anything I could do to come and see me. He smiled and said thank you. There was no way I could know exactly how much what I thought of him meant to him.

I started thinking about every interaction we have with people. Whether it’s a hello on the street or honking crazily in the middle of traffic because someone is in a hurry or a “like” on social media. Each interaction is like a hammer on the wood and it leaves a mark. The depth of that mark and whether that mark changes the object to something more beautiful or something less appealing is up to us. I watched the Amanda Todd story and immediately became sad, angry and disappointed. This is a girl who made a mistake, who needed help in several different areas of her life and ultimately felt hopeless enough to take her own life. How many kids in our own class could potentially be in this situation? Our students need to not only be taught how to be good citizens in society but they need to be specifically taught how to be responsible online and just as importantly how to protect themselves and treat each other with respect online. Although Amanda Todd story was about sexploitation and harassment by someone she potential didn’t know there are instances that I know of where students have done this to other students in their school. As an educator and as it administrator what is our role and responsibility in a situation like this? What is the responsibility of the parents?

As my week came to a close I received a phone call from a former parent. (YES! an actual phone call not a text!) I had the opportunity to teach their youngest son and coach their oldest in the same year. It’s been at least two years and I have since moved schools. She called me to update me on how the kids were doing and talk about potentially inviting my husband and myself over for dinner one night. And then there was silence… The next thing I heard was the crack in her voice and I knew the tears were flowing down her face. As she began to speak and let me know that the real purpose of her call was to thank me for the impact I had on her youngest son. He has become her rock and her comfort. She didn’t speak a lot about academics at this point but she spoke about teaching her son to be a good person. Teaching him how to be respectful, kind, and not afraid to love.

I’m not sure that I can take credit for all of the things she gave me credit for but I do know that I impacted the life of that child. I am grateful that the parents took the time to let me know that it made a difference in his life and theirs. 4983443426

Consider the ways you interact with students, parents and strangers both online and offline… what mark are you leaving on them?

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2015 in EC&I832, Uncategorized

 

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Beginning with the end in mind…blogging

My initial proposal for my my major project had three components 1) blogging with my students 2) using apps to communicate and build our classroom community with parents 3) looking at behaviour tracking apps that would work in my classroom. I have been working diligently on my major project but have neglected to post on my blog about it… so be prepared to be inundated with posts for a couple of weeks!!

A bit about the school and the students in my class.It is a behavioural intervention program for students in Kindergarten to Grade 8 with more complex behavioural difficulties.

In consultation with the parents, students are referred to the program from the home school to provide them with additional supports and skill building opportunities.  I currently have seven students in grades 1-4. The skill level of the group is so diverse, from non-readers to very proficient ones. Naturally my approach to teaching them to blog had to be very creative

Blogging (First two hooks set)
Blogging has been a difficult journey for myself and working in a classroom with the most vulnerable kids in our school division I felt I needed to be extra mindful of the privacy concerns as well as levels of frustration of the students. The students in my class are fairly techno-savvy but if something doesn’t go quite right there is potential for them to become frustrated and toss (quite forcefully) the device aside.

I knew that the idea of writing journal entries frustrated most of my students and they always asking me “how many sentences do I have to write?” My answer was usually “how old are you? that is how many sentences you have to write.” This was a great deal for my younger students but the 9 year olds in the class often felt this was ‘unfair’. So this was my “in”.

I presented the idea of blogging to my three senior students in the class. They weren’t quite sure what it was but one student knew what a Vlog was so I showed them the Youtube video How to Vlog: From the Vlogbrothers.  They weren’t keen about the idea of having their faces on screen and figuring out what to say on camera, as I knew they wouldn’t be … too much pressure. So I continued by showing them the samples of Kid Blogs.  I repeated the process with each grade level. They were intrigued and the hook was set. I showed them where we wanted to go (best backward design ever!) and now we had to figure out how to get there.

Step one: we need to know how to stay safe.

Using the Digital Citizenship Continuum from Kindergarten to Grade 12 I focused on the Protect section. Students watched the Youtube videos by Planet Nutshell What is the Internet? and What is Personal Information?

When we finished these we talked about what information should stay in our “castle”. Students completed sheets with a footprint on it (yes! we discussed what a footprint was and why it was important when we are online) and we posted it on our Dojo news to start conversation at home with their parents.

castlestudent

The students were very anxious to get onto the devices but knew that we had to talk more about digital citizenship before we could blog. I received emails, calls and messages from parents about blogging because their children were very excited… hook number two set… parents curious and involved.

 
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Posted by on November 19, 2015 in Major Project

 

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Near the End but Truly Just Beginning

We need a pedagogy free from fear and focused on the magic of children’s innate quest for information and understanding. — Sugata Mitra

The readings this week led me on a journey that took on a life of its own. So many ideas and thoughts swirling around in my mind. I have suspected for years that I am a visual / auditory learner (reading is not my forte) so I started with the videos.

I know I am a couple years behind on this idea but I feel as though my eyes have just been opened. Although our EC&I 832 course is not Massive (although it is larger than any Grad class I have taken), nor is it open for registration to anyone, the format is much like Dave Cormier discusses in his videos. I think it would have been helpful to have Dave Cormier’s video introduction about the Massive open online course (MOOC) before we started the class to give me an idea of how different it was going to be. I had taken an online class previously which does not even come close to resembling this course. In that course the assignments were given, readings were chosen and you completed your essay which was handed it in to the professor. The only feedback I received in that course was from the professor, there was no peer review or collaboration. So I had come into this class with the preconceived idea that this was going to be the same. I think if I would have seen this video at the beginning of this course my mindset would be different.

Dave Cormier states that we need 5 things to be successful in a MOOC.8620174342

  • Orient- get an idea of the content
  • Declare – make your presence known (Twitter, blogs etc)
  • Network – Interact with those that are also taking the same content
  • Cluster – Connect with those that share similar ideas and views
  • FocusContinue to be active, read and respond

It may be a little too late to back track now (I feel like I am still orienting and declaring) but at least I can finish the class out continuing to network, cluster and focus. (Thanks Katia for the feedback!)

I was interested in the idea of MOOCs and wanted to explore it further. I watched the Ted Talk Why massively open online courses (still) matter . When we look at access anyone with an internet access can participate. To put it into perspective Agarwal explained that “155,000 people enrolled – 7,200 passed the course” If he was “teaching at MIT 2 semesters every year” it would take him 40 years to teach this many students. It has opened the doors for large scale education. The idea of this leaves me wondering ….How would this work in an elementary school situation? Could it work in an elementary school situation?

As i was preparing to post a comment on Ashley’s blog Is There a Role for Schools in the Future? I realized that my comment was going to be part of my “blog confession”. Her post derailed my thinking as I was finding my way through the course readings and caused me to dig a little deeper to challenge my own perspectives. I am at the end of my course route in completing my MEd. and feel like I am just beginning my learning because of EC&I 832. My role as a teacher has changed over the last 10 years and in many ways I have failed to adapt with it. I embraced technology but have failed to follow through and keep up with the ways to guide student learning in the digital world. A course like this needs to be mandatory at the undergrad level (maybe it already is?) so that pre-service teachers aren’t afraid to allow learning to look a little different in their classroom (fear has always held me back) as well as do our students justice by teaching them to use their skills and access in a responsible way. I don’t think school will ever cease to exist but I do think that the way education is delivered most definitely has, will continue to and should.

I came across a tweet as I was composing this blog and it fit with what I was curious about. Sugata Mitra talks about the future of learning in his TED Talk and proposes we “Build a School in the Cloud”. He discusses the changes that have happened in the way we deliver education and the way we adapt it to meet the needs of society. He claims that traditional schooling is obsolete. Kids don’t need to have beautiful penmanship or know how to add numbers based on the jobs we have today. (I disagree to some extent with Mitra). But i do agree with the larger idea he presents about opening the borders of learning and giving students some freedom to direct their learning is important in changing the way we educate students in a digital world. He did some interesting “hole in the wall” experiments that are worth watching if you haven’t already.

A final thought … How would unschooling or open schooling or a school in the cloud work for students who have difficulty with executive functioning skills?

 
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Posted by on November 16, 2015 in EC&I832

 

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