Technology

Chapter Reflection: Digital School by Clive Thompson

“As various educational analysts have joked, if you brought a bunch of surgeons from a hundred years ago into today’s hospitals, they would have no idea what was going on, because everything about their craft had evolved: antibiotics, laparoscopic devices, MRIs. But time-traveling teachers would have no trouble walking into an elementary school (or even Harvard) and going to work, because schools are nearly identical. Walk to the front of the class, pick up the chalk, and start lecturing.” (Thompson, 2014)

 

Educational theorists from around the globe agree that the model of school has not changed much in centuries.  I believe that is about to change.

 

The evolution of digital technology use in schools is increasing all the time.  Educators are using digital tools to augment the limitations of our brains, provide meaningful and authentic learning opportunities, and create artefacts of learning that can be shared and improved on by others.  Of course, this kind of process takes time.  Whenever a new practice is developed there are always those folk who realize its potential early and jump on board.  For others, it takes a little more time to change.

 

Innovators and Early Adopters are pushing the boundaries with digital technologies in schools while the Early Majority are now moving through the framework of SAMR model of technology integration in their classrooms.  I am sure, upon reflection, the history of school will be divided into the time before and after the digital revolution.

The utilization of digital technologies in our schools is still in its infancy.  Diffusion of innovation theory describes how, why, and the rate in which new technologies, ideas, and processes weave their way into the fabric of society.  According to Everett Brown’s research on diffusion theory, there are four main factors that influence the process of adoption of an idea:

  1. The innovation itself
  2. How information about the innovation is communicated
  3. Time
  4. The nature of the environment the innovation is introduced in  (Rogers, 2003)

The decision to adopt a new idea, process, or technology is based on what Rogers calls the Innovation Decision Period (IDP).  The stages of the IDP are:

 

Innovation Decision Process (IDP) (1)

 

“The adoption of an innovation follows an S curve when plotted over a length of time.  The categories of adopters are innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards.” (“Diffusion of Innovations,” n.d.)  The adoption of digital technologies, aligned with sound pedagogical models of technology integration, which are used to make school more meaningful and personally relevant to learners are still in the ‘early adopter’ phase.  Several factors stand in the way of the diffusion of digital technologies in our public schools and include; inadequate funding, privacy issues related to FIPPA, general resistance to change, infrastructure issues, hype, and misuse.  According to Thompson (2014) classroom technology has a long history of hype that has rarely delivered.  From radio to television, these innovations have been positioned as saviours to the education system but have failed to live up to their claims.  I believe that schools need robust instructional frameworks to manage new technologies and avoid spending a whole pile of money on using digital technologies for the sake of digital technologies by replicating offline activities, online.

 

When embracing digital technologies in the classroom the SAMR model of technology integration is both simple and robust.  The model encourages educators to move the practice of using digital technologies from the acts substituting offline activities to online activities to creative new ways of creating, evaluating and sharing content.

SAMR Model

Image the creation of Dr. Ruben Puentedura, Ph.D. http://www.hippasus.com/rrpweblog/

As educators move from positions of substituting offline for online activities to creating content, developing and sharing knowledge, they improve their instructional practice.  Embracing a model of technology integration like SAMR will increase the legitimacy of digital tools by the majority of educators, parents, and educational leaders.  At this point, comparisons with prophesied educational technology revolutions of the past, such as radio and television can end.  Resulting in a move towards creating a new vision of school where all stakeholders have a voice at the table.

 

Smarter Than You Think, a book by Clive Thompson, tackles this idea that change needs to be adopted in our education system.  His chapter titled Digital School helped me to question the purpose of using digital technologies in my classroom, and prompted me to critically-evaluate the tools I use.  Deciding whether or not to embrace digital technologies in schools is no longer the question we should be asking.  Instead, we should be asking how we can use digital technologies to create artefacts of learning, which are both authentic and meaningful?

 

Thompson’s discussion on the merits of coding in school were personally relevant as it coincided with my class’s participation in the Hour of Code.  I appreciated Thompson’s discussion around the work Seymour Papert championed in the 1960’s with his Logo programming language.  I’m sure I’m not the only teacher who struggles to make aspects of mathematics personally relevant to their students.  Unlike Logo, where students programmed a turtle to move around the screen during the Hour of Code, my students were making a character skate patterns in ice.  While I walked around the room, I observed several unique moments.  Students did not need to ask me constantly questions about a task; they seemed to understand what was required.  Secondly, I saw cycles of failure and success, which led to new learning.  I rarely see students take these kinds of risks in offline activities.  Thirdly, I saw students collaborate in more supportive ways than I have seen before.  Perhaps most importantly, from an educator’s perspective, I saw student’s experiment and develop new knowledge about mathematical concepts such as computational thinking, angles, and shape naming.  My Hour of Code was a complete success!  I certainly agree with Thompson when he says, “It proves that you learn by experimenting and making mistakes, and not by trying to be perfect the first time.” (Thompson, 2014)

References:

Diffusion of Innovations. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved December 16, 2014, from

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diffusion_of_innovations

Rogers, E. M. (2003). Diffusion of innovations. New York: Free Press.

Thompson, C. (2014). Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing our Minds for the Better. New York: The Penguin Group.

Advertisements

The Changing Role Of The Teacher In The Digital Age

In my latest #tiegrad class I was invited to discus the changing role of the teacher in the digital age.

 

Three Distinct Relationship Changes For Teachers In The Digital Age

 

Richardson, W. (2012) understood the changing role of the teacher when he stated, “In this new story, real learning happens anytime, anywhere, with anyone we like – not just with a teacher and some same age peers, in a classroom from September to June. More importantly, it happens around the things we learners choose to learn, not what someone else tells us to learn.” (p. 1).

Introduction

In order to understand the changing role of the teacher in the 21st Century, it is important to consider the historical role of the teacher. For centuries, direct instruction was the pedagogy of the day. The teacher held the position of absolute authoritative power and was the holder, and dispenser, of knowledge. Students worked to achieve curricular objectives designed and assessed by the teacher, and were given extrinsic motivators like grades and rewards as reasons to memorize information and demonstrate understanding of taught concepts. In contrast, the digital age represents an important time of educational change. The role of the teacher is evolving as new, digital, epistemologies form in an increasingly connected and networked world. In classrooms and schools around the globe, teachers are changing their methods to better suit the increased use of digital technologies available in education. Advances in technology have led to a more networked and connected world, and has given rise to a myriad of useful resources. Classrooms today are no longer confined to one specific educational theory, or limited by physical space. Education is no longer just about delivering curriculum in a way to actively engage the student in the room; it is about access to information. Active engagement and active learning have now become interactive learning. Teachers and students now co-learn across school districts, provinces, and countries. They share, collaborate and create information with a simple keystroke, click of the mouse, or via video conferencing available on their mobile devices (Thiele, Mai, & Post, 2014). The changing role of the teacher in the digital age can be characterized by three distinct relationship changes; between teacher and student, teacher and curriculum, and teacher and pedagogy.

Teacher with student

One fundamental change teacher’s face in the digital age is the change in the teacher-student relationship. According to Lemley, Schumacher, & Vesey (2014), “The 21st-century student will expect the 21st-century learning environment to provide opportunities creating a different role for the teacher” (p.6). In this version of school, the learning environment is flexible and dynamic. Learning is no longer restricted to the confines of the regular school day. It extends to the home, the community, and beyond. Learners prefer not to have education confined to the classroom, but want to have the freedom to be able to learn at any time and in any place (Rosen, 2011, p.5). Another shift between learner and teacher revolves around exploring curriculum together. Learning is a shared experience between teacher and learner. At one time, the relationship between teacher and learner was hierarchical in nature. The teacher was the dispenser of knowledge and communication between student and educator was one-way. That model no longer provides the best learning experiences for students. In the digital age, teachers are learning with their students through co-learning and collaboration. These methods form the basis of personalized learning.

Teacher with curriculum

Teachers are re-examining their relationship with curriculum and are moving from a teacher-centred perspective to a student-centred perspective. British Columbia’s version of this change in curriculum and pedagogy coined the BC Education Plan. Government of British Columbia (2013) states, “Our education system is based on a model of learning from an earlier century. To change that, we need to put students at the centre of their own learning” (p. 2). A move towards student-centred learning refocuses on the interests of the child rather than others involved in the education process. Teachers are making changes to their curriculum to include periods of inquiry learning. Exploring the path of inquiry learning with students follows a constructivist theory of education. Self-directed in nature, inquiry learning develops critical and creative thinking skills; skills learners will need in order to be successful in the future. Maiers, A., & Sandvold, A. (2010), talk about the importance of student-centred learning in The Passion Driven Classroom. They relate inquiry learning to finding learner’s passions and say, “It will be the passion that students hold, not for every subject, but for the ACT and PRIVILEGE of learning that will allow them to reach rigorous outcomes and excellence” (p. 6). When teachers move curriculum from methods of talk and show to methods of inquiry, they focus on each student’s passions, abilities, and learning styles; thus, allowing the teacher to move from a position of administering to facilitating learning. In addition, when teachers integrate inquiry methods in their curriculum, they honour the importance of student voice and recognise that it is central to the learning experience for every student.

In a student-centred classroom, students choose what they will learn, how they will learn, and how they will assess their learning. Student-centred learning requires students to be active, responsible participants in their learning. This aligns with Thiele, Mai, & Post (2014) findings in their research on learning in the 21st Century, “The implementation of technology can enhance learning by making the classroom more active and student-centered”(p. 1). In the digital age, teachers have a variety of tools and resources available to create curriculum with students, invite learners to discover the pleasures of lifelong learning, and open the classroom up to a global audience. According to the Government of British Columbia (2013), “Curriculum will increasingly emphasize key concepts, deeper knowledge, and more meaningful understanding of subject matter, and give teachers the flexibility they need to personalize their students’ learning experiences” (p. 3). Dewey, J. (1929) also realized the importance of student-centered learning in My Pedagogic Creed when he wrote, “The true centre of correlation of the school subjects is not science, nor literature, nor history, nor geography, but the child’s own social activities” (p. 4).

Teacher with pedagogy

If pedagogy is the art and science of educating (Webb 2012), then the relationship between teacher and pedagogy has changed dramatically in the digital age. Assessment practices, professional development opportunities, and a stronger understanding of how students learn best are reshaping relationships between teachers and their craft. Assessment practices have moved from ‘assessment of learning’ to ‘assessment for learning’; from teacher-directed assessment to peer and self-assessment. All this points to the learner becoming an active participant in the learning process. Advances in digital technologies have created complex assessment experiences, such as game-based assessments and online collaborative problem-solving. A wider variety of participants are invited into the assessment cycle including peers and outside experts. According to Webb (2014) there is, “Increasing evidence that uses of technologies are producing persistent changes in children’s brains and hence changing their capacity and capabilities for learning” (p. 10). Neuroscience is growing rapidly, and teachers are incorporating the latest brain research into their practice, specifically to assist in developing self-regulated learning skills. New digital technologies allow educators to engage in personalized, professional development, strengthen pedagogies, and create learning communities that cultivate professional relationships outside of school buildings. Collaboration in the digital age enables teachers to reach out and connect with like-minded educators. Historically, teachers developed their pedagogy through a combination of curriculum documents, colleagues, workshops, and other professional development opportunities. The digital age has changed the way teachers develop their pedagogy. Networked teachers continue to develop their practice around traditional methods, but also embrace new technologies such as video conferences, social networking services, and online learning communities. Couros, G (2010) agrees with the importance of a collaborative pedagogy, “We must ensure that we are working together as an educator community to continue to move education forward.”

Conclusion

Relationships teachers have with their learners, curriculum, and pedagogy are changing rapidly in this time of digital enlightenment. Early educational theorists such as Dewey and Montessori understood the needs of learners and the constraints of curriculum. Digital technologies have allowed teachers to realize the dreams of early educational theorists. Educators no longer need to work in isolation. They have the knowledge and resources to facilitate learning by exploring curriculum with their learners. When teachers revisit their relationships with learners, curriculum, and pedagogy in the 21st Century, they create innovative change to the education system and encourage children to thrive in a dynamic and rapidly evolving world. They accept that students must be at the centre of a more personalized approach to learning and must be given the freedom to pursue their individual interests and passions in the classroom.

References:

Abrami, P. C., Venkatesh, V., Meyer, E. J., & Wade, C. A. (2013). Using electronic portfolios to foster literacy and self-regulated learning skills in elementary students. Journal of Educational Psychology, 105(4), 1188–1209. doi:10.1037/a0032448

Couros, G. (2010). The power of working together.  The principal of change: stories of learning and leading. Retrieved from http://georgecouros.ca/blog/archives/1020.

Dewey, J. (1929). My Pedagogic Creed. In I. D. Flinders & S. Thorton (Eds.), The Curriculum Studies Reader (pp. 34–43). New York: Routledge.

Government of British Columbia. (2013). BC ’ s Education Plan, 1 – 9.

Lemley, J., Schumacher, G., & Vesey, W. (2014). What learning environments best address 21st-century students’ perceived needs at the secondary level of instruction? NASSP Bulletin. doi:10.1177/0192636514528748

Maiers, A., & Sandvold, A. (2010). 1 Achievement gap or passion gap? The passion-driven classroom: a framework for teaching and learning (p. 6). Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.

Richardson, W. (2012). Part 1: old school. Why School? How Education Must Change when Learning and Information are Everywhere (eBook) (p.1). TED Conferences. Retrieved from http://www.amazon.ca/Why-School-Education-Information-Everywhere-ebook/dp/B00998J5YQ

Rosen, L. D. (2011). Teaching the iGeneration. Educational Leadership, 68, 10–15. Retrieved from http://web.ebscohost.com.libdata.lib.ua.edu/ehost/detail?sid=3dc15bba-9972-4ca4-adb4-892d68f5a898@sessionmgr110&vid=31&hid=10&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ==#db=aph&AN=58108032.

Thiele, A. K., Mai, J. a, & Post, S. (2014). The Student-Centered Classroom of the 21st Century : Integrating Web 2 . 0 Applications and Other Technology to Actively Engage Students. Journal of Physical Therapy Education, 28(1).

Webb, M. (2012). Pedagogy with information and communications technologies in transition. Education and Information Technologies, 1–20. doi:10.1007/s10639-012-9216-x.

 

 

Conversations In Ed: The Complexities of BYOD

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) agreements are being developed in many school districts across the province, and although they vary in content from district to district, there are many similarities. I am currently working on developing a draft BYOD agreement for my district and I wanted to take the time to share my learning.

What are BYOD agreements?

Agreements to support the use of student’s own devices in schools, to educate students and staff on the consenting use of devices, and explain the consequences of misuse of the networks which support the devices. There currently exists a wide range of different BYOD agreements; some brief and others extremely lengthy. It appears as though no one BYOD agreement is a best fit for all schools, so make decisions that best fit the unique needs of school or district.

Why Do We Need BYOD?

We are in a time when so much of the research, inquiry, and collaborative learning students complete in a day are enabled by the use of devices such as a smartphones, laptops, or tablets. Schools and school districts do not have large enough technology budgets to accommodate the seer volume of devices required, so a well thought out BOYD agreement would enable students to engage in 21st Century Learning, and at the same time alleviate some of the budgetary concerns facing many schools. In addition, it is important to acknowledge the efficiency benefits of BYOD agreements. Without BYOD, students may need to spend unnecessary time learning unfamiliar software programs pre-installed on school devices before they are able to complete the required learning task. In contrast, students who are permitted to bring their own devices to school are already familiar with them and can attend to the learning task right away.

“By allowing students to bring in their own devices for learning–rather than insisting that they learn both content and device in school–there is an important opportunity to connect with not just their personal lives, but their natural way of doing things.” Terry Heick (teachthought.com)

Pros:

  1. Students are familiar their own devices and can concentrate more on creating, responding to, and reflecting on their learning, rather than learning how to use unfamiliar devices and software
  2. Helps to address the problem of schools trying to provide the necessary hardware for 21st Century learning with limited technology budgets by allowing students to bring their own devices to school
  3. Excellent learning tool to gain access to information, create content, respond and reflect on own learning
  4. Potential to widen the student learning networks from traditional classroom based networks to global networks

Cons:

  1. BYOD does not address the equality differences between students and schools residing in low socioeconomic areas
  2. Theft and misuse of devices
  3. Time and money spent on educating users on device etiquette
  4. IT and network considerations

Communication

It is critically important to clearly communicate the rationale of BYOD with all partners in learning; students, teachers, parents, and guests. Including the BYOD in a general acceptable use policy (AUP) is one option, but a more targeted approach might be more successful. Listing the BYOD agreement on the school district website, emailing it out, or adding it to each students’ school registration process might be more beneficial.

Education and Training

Teachers, support staff, and students may need ongoing training with the decision making process of when and when not to use devices to enhance learning. It is also important to spend time educating students on device etiquette. Students may not be able to establish boundaries between work and play. Educators use a variety of expectations around device usage in their classrooms, some of them include:

  • Silent mode unless being used
  • Device stays in the backpack unless a member of staff asks you specifically to use it
  • Students must not use devices to record, transmit, or post photographic images or video of a person or persons on campus during school hours or during school activities, unless otherwise allowed by a teacher – see more
  • Students should only be using the devices to access files, information, images, or video that are directly related to the content of the lesson or assignment

Network Access Requirements

It is important to clearly communicate what type of devices are permitted under your BOYD agreement: smartphones, tablets, netbooks, and laptops, and what the minimum hardware/software requirements are needed to gain access to the network. No teacher wants to spend their morning trying to get an outdated netbook connected to the school wireless.

District/School IT Responsibilities

In my school district when I, or when students in my class, have hardware/software issues we submit an IT helpdesk e-ticket, but what happens when the number of devices in my class increase with BYOD? Will the IT department be overwhelmed with additional requests? Will the IT department be expected to provide students with service level agreements? What will happen when student data is lost, and will more infrastructures be needed in school? I think students will need to charge their devices in the middle of the day, and schools/districts may need to consider charging stations at some point in the future.

 

Network Security:

Network security is an important feature of BYOD. We asked ourselves questions such as, how will you manage the network with respect to restricting access to certain sites at certain times? Would we continue to use Ministry filters from PLNet, or would consider using our own internal knowledge to program our own filters?

Another questions raised by middle/high teachers were related to bandwidth. In one particular school, the WiFi bandwidth was seriously impacted as soon as buses started to arrive at school. As a 1000+ students started to walk through the doors and their phones started to auto detected the network, the network slowed to a crawl.

In our discussion we decide to limit the number of devices a student can use to connect to the network, block certain sites during recess and lunch, and have several different wireless networks in school to accommodate different users such as staff, students, and guests. We are currently looking into Bradford Networks to assist us with providing the software to manage our networks. They will be able to register IP address, track infractions, block access to network and sites, and manage security threats.

 

Unanswered Questions of BYOD Agreements

Along the way to developing an agreement, we came across many questions we have yet to decide solutions for. For example, what happens if a device is lost or damaged on school grounds? Who covers the cost of fixing the problem or replacing the device? Schools simply cannot afford to replace the cost of damaged devices, so the sole responsibility needs to lie with students, but will this result in students, who have devices, deciding not to bring them to school in fear of damaging? Perhaps students will need to purchase a type of insurance to cover the costs of damaged devices in schools.
What happens to students who misuse the networks they are accessing?
Will sites be blocked during recess and lunch? If so which ones, and will this decision be made at the district or school level?
Will a BYOD agreement mean unexpected and additional work by IT departments?

 

Sample BYOD Agreements:
http://education.alberta.ca/media/6749210/byod%20guide%20revised%202012-09-05.pdf
http://www.allenisd.org/cms/lib/TX01001197/Centricity/Domain/1654/BYOD.pdf

Great BYOD Links:
http://www.teachthought.com/technology/11-sample-education-byot-policies-to-help-you-create-your-own/
http://www.classlink.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/BYOD-Guidebook-v13.pdf?9e9d1c
http://www.educatorstechnology.com/2012/07/what-teachers-need-to-know-about-byod.html
http://dangerouslyirrelevant.org/2013/06/we-have-a-byod-program-but-now-what.html
http://darcymoore.net/2013/06/04/byod-in-a-post-der-world/
https://www.diigo.com/user/cyberjohn07/BYOD
http://www.bradfordnetworks.com/

Two Ways To Engage In Creative Writing

 

1. The Progressive Story Project:  My teaching partner, @missbartel, stumbled upon this project last year.  Both our grade 5/6 classes participated with enthusiasm in the spring, and engagement levels were high throughout.  The Progressive Story Project was developed by Karen Ditzler, an instructional technology specialist, from Pennsylvania USA.  Groups of 5 classes, in schools around the world, work together to write a complete story.  Here’s how the project works:

  • The first class brainstorms and writes the intro paragraph(s).
  • Then the next class reads the paragraph(s), brainstorms and decides how they want to continue the story.
  • This will continue until the last class on the list writes the ending and gives the story a title.
  • Classes can edit their section of the story on the Wiki.
  • Once your class has finished the writing part, students can choose scenes to illustrate from their writing.
  • Once all illustrations have been submitted, a VoiceThread is created of the entire story.
This is a link to the story my grade 5/6 class created last spring.

 

2. QuadBlogging:  The primary goal of QuadBlogging is to increase the flow of traffic to a class blog or a number of student blogs in a particular class.  The project creates opportunities for classes, in different school across the globe, to develop their blogging and commenting skills.  If you are familiar with the Twitter hashtag #comment4kids, then QuadBlogging achieves a similar outcome but in a more formal way.  Here’s how the project works:

  • School A becomes the focus school for an entire school week
  • Schools B, C, D spend the week visiting school A’s blog(s), leaving comments and interacting with the content of the blog(s)
  • In the second week of the project, school B becomes the focus school
  • Schools A, C, D spend the week visiting school B’s blog(s), leaving comments and interacting with the content of the blog(s)
  • During the third week of the project, school C becomes the focus school for the week
  • Schools A, B, D spend the week visiting school C’s blog(s), leaving comments and interacting with the content of the blog(s)
  • The cycle continues until all schools have had the opportunity to be the focus school.
If you are aware of other ongoing projects, which attempt to connect teachers and students across the globe please feel free to add a link and the title of the project in the comment section below.

Tech Integration Post #10 of 10: Using QR Codes in the Classroom

QR (quick response) Codes are like barcodes on steroids!  They enable anyone with a QR reader app on their smartphone/tablet to scan the code using the device’s onboard camera, which then creates a shortcut to a variety different links.  Shortcuts may include links to website address, email accounts, pictures, videos, audio files, maps etc…

This QR Code links to a very informative Common Craft video which further explains QR codes:

Before you can use QR codes you need to visit a website to build it.  Here are a list of sites used to create QR codes:

Once you’ve created your QR code you should test with by using any of the free QR reader apps below:
When I saw the picture below, on a remote stretch of northern California highway, I realized the true impact QR codes have on our society, and how useful they can be to develop a deeper understanding of a subject:
Using QR Codes in the class:
  1. Self-guided tour of the school or the classroom:- QR codes could be place at key locations throughout the school and linked to an audio file which further explains the location and what should happen there.  For example, my school follows the EBS/PBS model for discipline, and one of the major components of EBS is the school matrix.  The school matrix outlines our code of conduct (Safe, Helpful, Awesome Attitude, Responsible, and Kind) and how it should be applied in various areas of the school (classroom, transitions, playground, assemblies etc…).  At the beginning fo each school year, or when new students arrive, QR codes could be placed in the above locations and linked to an audio files which would explain the matrix in detail.
  2. Student art gallery walk:- Any visual art lesson can be converted into a multimedia gallery type exhibition using QR codes.  For example, if my students are working on examples of op-art,  they can transform their 2-dimensional drawing into multi-sensory displays by attaching a QR code to the picture.  The QR code may then link to an audio file, which further explains the artwork.  In the audio file students can reflect on their work and use metacognition to express what was easy/difficult about the process.  They can also link their work to additional text and videos on the subject of op-art to encourage others to develope a deeper understanding of the concept.  Finally, students could assess each others work by recording feedback, creating a QR code and attaching it below the artwork.  Thus creating a comment section similar to a blog.
  3. QR Codes attached to homework:- Attach a QR code to your student’s place value homework which links to a video you made using Explain Everything (A video creation tool for the iPad).  The video can reinforce the skill of understanding the value of each digit in a number.  This has huge potential for occasions when support at home is not available.
  4. Guest Teachers:- Guest teachers who substitute in your room may feel more comfortable if they can follow some of the existing classroom rules/expectations.  QR codes could be place on the mobile computer lab, for example, to explain the rules of using the equipment.
  5. Student jobs:– In my classroom we share the responsibility for keeping the classroom clean and tidy.  QR codes could be place at various points in the classroom to reinforce what steps should be taken in order to make sure the bookshelf is fully cleaned, or to explain how to take attendance and where to take it when it’s completed.
I would welcome any additional ideas you have on how to use QR codes in the classroom.

Tech Integration Post #9 of 10: Create Concept Review Videos For Students And Parents

Throughout the whole of the previous school year, I often wondered how to reach more of my student’s parents and engage them (directly) in classroom concepts. I wanted to somehow have the ability to connect parents with what was happening in the classroom, and at the same time offer parents the opportunity to practice fundamental math concepts with their children, based on materials I had created for them.

Originally I had planned to video myself explaining math concepts such as place value, number sense, addition and subtraction, multiplication and division. When I first tried to video myself I had to consider things like lighting and position of props. It turned out to be time consuming and somewhat difficult.

Recently, I found a solution, and want to share it with you.  I use the iPad app, Explain Everything to create math review videos.  Explain Everything is an easy-to-use design tool that lets you annotate, animate, and narrate explanations and presentations.  It’s like an interactive whiteboard for your iPad! You can easily create dynamic interactive lessons, activities, assessments, and tutorials using Explain Everything.  It is possible to record your voice, add images, change pen colours and vary the thickness of your pen lines.  Not only that, but you can easily edit your video, and export to several different formats including, YouTube, Evernote, and email.

The intermediate division of my school is going to be focused on improving math skills this year, and it is my goal to email or host these videos in a place for my student’s parents to view before school starts, during the first few weeks or school, and at any time a review is needed.  So, the next time a parent of one of your students asks, “What can I do to help my child with math?” send them a link to one of your newly created math review videos.  It’s that easy!

Here’s a couple I made today.  Feel free to tell me what you think:

iPad + Blogsy: A Match Made In Heaven

Updating your WordPress.com blog on your iPad, while travelling, has never been easier with Blogsy. There are many applications you can use to manage your blog on the go including, WordPress, Blogpress, Evernote, but I really like Blogsy and its ease of use.

Before you begin blogging, you will need to purchase some additional hardware if you fo not plan to use the iPad’s built-in video and camera. If you have an additional camera you use to take pictures for your blog, or a video camera with more options you’ll need to purchase the Apple iPad Camera Connect Kit. This allows you to connect an external micro SD card or a USB device to your iPad. Once you connect the camera kit, the iPad will automatically import all video and images based on your preferences. It’s as simple as that. Once your media is stored on the iPad, you are ready to blog. It is also possible to add media via cloud picture albums such as Picasa Web Albums and Flickr without the camera connect kit. I’ll explain this later.

Once all the media (pictures and video) which you intend to use in your blog posting has been transferred to the iPad you can begin to interact with Blogsy. Before you create your first blog you will need to customize Blogsy. It doesn’t mater which of the three main blogging platforms you use, WordPress, Blogger, or Posterous. You will be able to use Blogsy’s easy to use interface to post content to your blog. Here is a useful video that explains how to complete Blogsy’s ont-time set up for your blogging platform:
 

 
Assuming, when about to blog on the go, that you don’t have access to cloud photo albums, Flickr and Picasa Web Albums, you will to transfer media (both still pictures and video) from your SD card to your iPad. This short video explains how to do this with the aid of Apple’s Camera Connect Kit:
 

 
Once you have transfered all your media to the iPad, you can write your post in full and publish to your favourite blogging platform. This short video explains how to add media to your post, apply appropriate categories and tags, and publish to the Internet:
 

 
I recently created a blog on the iPad using Blogsy. It’s as easy to blog on the iPad as it is on a laptop or desktop. By clicking on the link you can see the quality and variety of the postings on my summer cycle tour along northwestern coast of the U.S.A. All posts were created and published on the iPad.

Tech Integration Post #8 of 10: Live Streaming

This post was inspired by @gcouros and Forest Green School in Alberta.

Broadcasting live feeds to the Internet, or live streaming as it’s known, and allowing other students and professionals to watch events is guaranteed to increase engagement levels in your classroom, tenfold. There are many Internet broadcasting options available completely free of charge. Here’s a short list:

1. USTREAM
2. Livestream
3. Veetle
4. Freedocast

I like to use Livestream because it allows broadcasts to be streamed with increased quality when using the Procaster rather than the online webcast option. Livestream like many of the above has its downfalls.  Perhaps the most frustrating of these downfalls are the advertisements which pop up at the most inopportune times.  If you streams are fairly short you may gat away with it but if you stream live for any length of time you have to deal with the advertisements.  The free version of Livstream doesn’t allow you to transmit HD quality images even if you have a HD webcam which is somewhat disappointing, but I’ve learned to live with it.  I’m sure you will too.

This term, I’ve used Livestream in the following ways:

1. Present a weekly student news broadcast once a week: CETV News

    • You can follow the broadcasts live at 1pm PST on Friday’s here
    • I have a small broadcast-journalism news team of 5:
      • 1 technician, 2 newsreader’s, 1 script writing, and 1 researcher
    • On Monday morning I allow the researcher to research 5 segments including international, national, community, school, and sports news stories
    • Once the news stories have been identified, the researcher fills out a Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How table
    • On Tuesday and Wednesday the script writer uses the above table and adds his/her own unique touch to the stories.  It’s important to use a script writer who is comfortable using powerful language.  The script writer hands the final script to both newsreader’s by Thursday at recess.
    • This enables the newsreader’s to practice pronunciation and fluency in preparation for the broadcast the following day
    • During the broadcast we use hand signals which encourage the newsreader’s to slow down, speed up, smile, and speak louder. The cycle repeats itself again on Monday
    • Student engagement is high with this activity, and the fact that the broadcast may be viewed by anyone with the link means there is an increased level of professionalism from all involved.

2. Streamed live presentations of political candidates in the electoral riding of Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon

    • To coincide with the Canadian General Election which took place on May 2nd, 2011 my teaching partner and I invited all 6 electoral candidates for our riding into school to present to our grade 5/6 classes
    • The plan was to have candidates deliver a kid-friendly synopsis of their party platform to our students, and our students would then vote at the end of the week.
    • After further consideration we decided to invite other schools in our district to join us in the voting process.
    • Livestream enabled us to stream the presentations live to eight elementary schools in our district.  The live presentations offered an additional sense of authenticity for students, and resulted in a higher voter turn out.
    • Presentations can be view here: Central Election
I experienced several challenges along the way, but I persevered and was pleased by the end results.  It is critical to hardwire to the network rather than use a wireless connection when streaming.  We found that it is best to stream in a room as small as possible to get the best audio results.  I also found it was better to use the microphone built into the webcam rather the microphone built into my computer.  Finally, it extremely helpful to conduct several tests before going live to ensure audio levels and video quality were optimum.
If you plan to try this please feel free to contact me for help if needed.

Tech Integration Post #7 0f 10: Using Voki’s in Social Studies

After covering The United Nations, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), and The Convention of the Rights Of The Child in our social studies classes this term, I successfully used Voki’s with my students to demonstrate their knowledge.

Here’s an outline of what I had them do:

Assignment Steps:

  1. Visit www.voki.com
  2. Click on the create button in the top left hand corner
  3. Next, customize your character by gender, hairstyle, and clothing
  4. Once you are happy with your character click done
  5. Now it’s time to add the voice of your character.  I would like you to make your character talk about important points you have recently learned about the United Nations
  6. You can either record your own voice or use the text to speech box.
  7. Once you’ve selected an appropriate voice for your character click done
  8. You can now publish your work – click publish
  9. You will be prompted to name your work: Use firstname and UN in capitals
  10. If you have not already created an account you will need to do so now – use your @mrlister.co.cc email address and DO NOT use your last name
  11. Once registered choose medium sized voki
  12. Copy all the text in the box labelled “For Most Sites Use This Code”
  13. Once you have the code for your Voki visit the following Google Document and paste your code under your name – http://bit.ly/hsohIT

Student engagement levels were particularly high during this assignment and I received some thoughtful responses.  Here’s an example…

 

AC_Voki_Embed(200,267,”40fb56fdc05aa7ceb3bed7e9b22763a8″,3150442, 1, “”, 0);
Get a Voki now!

 

The Living Library Project: Everyone Has A Story

The Living Library Project is a project designed to improve oral language skills for all grade 5/6 students at Central Elementary Community School in Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada.  In the next 9 months, we plan to invite living books, local and global community members, into the classroom to tell their stories orally to our students.  Our hope is that through these stories each of our students will realize that they too are a Living Book with a story to tell.

Oral story telling has been practiced for centuries in many cultures.  For many of those cultures, such as the indigenous people’s, it is how traditions and beliefs are passed on to the next generation.  Sadly, this cultural gift of language is slowly beginning to diminish.  Our Living Library is an attempt at breathing life back into the gift of oral language by recognizing, maybe for the first time, that EVERYONE has a story to tell.

Goals:

  1. Living Books will introduce students to a variety of worldviews and life experiences
  2. Living Books will help students realize them have stories of their own to tell
  3. Students will use speaking and listening to improve and extend thinking
  4. Students will increase vocabulary usage and oral language skills

Process:

We are inviting Living Books, local and global community members, into the classroom to tell their stories orally to our students.  Our hope is that through these stories each of our students will realize that they are a living book with a story to tell.  If you have a story to tell contact us at livinglibrary33@gmail.com.

This project is meant to be shared with others, just as oral stories have been shared among cultures in our past.  Check out the website often to hear our most recent Living Books.