Tag Archive | technology

Can I PLEASE do my homework?

Recently, Ms. Proch and I took two huge steps: we flipped our Pre-AP ELA 9 classes and we also implemented Outcomes-Based Grading (Standards-Based Grading for my American readers). Needless to say, we’re really excited, but I’m also a little bit hesitant/nervous/anxious/terrified. I’ve done both before, but not in an English class. Math made some much more sense to me when it came to exactly what my class time versus homework was going to look like, but English is a whole new kettle of fish.

Today is the first day where I noticed a huge difference in what my class is like. I assigned some prep-work (the work my class will do the night before a class) last night for my students to do. (You can check out my class website for the resources mentioned.) Their job was to watch a short video on Shakespearean Insults and to do a little reading about how to paraphrase when reading Shakespeare. Today in class, we took our knowledge about how to read Shakespeare and applied it to how to write like Shakespeare. They were tasked to act as a “secret admirer” to another student in my class and write them a kind letter. In theme with Valentine’s Day this week, this letter could be romantic (not required) or platonic, whichever the students were comfortable writing, so that I can pass them out anonymously on Friday for a little Valentine’s pick-me-up (some of them were super sweet–I almost cried reading how kind-hearted my students are).

Here’s where my students were struggling with the flipped concept: they were working, but not very hard. I reminded them that the assignment was to be completed by the end of class. They had more than sufficient time to complete this work if they were working diligently, but many of them were not. As the deadline drew nearer–fifteen minutes left, ten minutes left, five minutes left–the students began to panic more. Several students put up their hand at the five minute marker, and asked if they could take this home for homework.

Normally, I would be OVER THE MOON if a student willingly volunteered to take work home so they could complete it and “do a better job,” but I’m in the process of retraining their thinking on how class works. I said no, and they were dismayed. I took time to have a “teachable moment” and explain that they need to be maximizing their class time or we aren’t going to accomplish anything all semester. I’m lucky to have a spectacularly motivated crew, so they were on board with actually being productive. I am also fortunate that I get to keep my class all afternoon, so we dipped into some of fifth period to get the letters done to their satisfaction.

All in all, this was a great learning experience for me: I need to be grateful for my very eager students, I need to be more diligent with managing class time, and I need to reinforce the difference between prep work and class work (and the absence of homework).

My question to you, as readers, is what strategies do you use to help your students to transition their learning habits from a traditional classroom to a flipped classroom? 

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It’s Time to Recognize

Well, I’m pleased to say I’m back to the blogging world after a somewhat long hiatus. It’s not that I intended to be gone for so long, but, as you probably know well, the life of a teacher is busy!

I have spent the better part of the last month really focusing on what I’m grateful for: good health, a wonderful family, supportive friends, and a welcoming school. I am happy to be back at the school where I completed my internship in Fall of 2011. My heart is so full of gratitude for the kindness the staff have extended to me so far this semester.

In particular, a number of staff members have volunteered to “take me under their wing” to informally and formally mentor me. To me, having a group of mentors is invaluable. Each person brings a different perspective, different advice, and a different skill set for me to draw on and hopefully emulate.

One person, in particular, has gone above and beyond the call of duty to make me feel welcome and loved. Jodi, an enthusiastic technology expert, has an unparalleled pedagogy. She strives daily to connect personally with her students, all the while using multiple forms of technology and media to deliver a sound education to everyone who sets foot in her classroom.

What strikes me most profoundly about Jodi is her kind nature. She never seems rattled, she always looks for positive solutions, and she always has time to lend a hand. I can honestly say that no one has had a more powerful impact on my pedagogy, desire to further my knowledge formally and informally, and plain old love of teaching than Jodi has in just a few short months. She is truly inspiring. I can attribute 90% of my sanity in the last few weeks solely to Jodi and her caring advice. 

Because of this, I am in the process of nominating her for a provincial teaching award to recognize her for being so gosh-darn wonderful. What I didn’t know before I started doing my research on this incredible role model is just how involved Jodi really is. Her resume is jaw-dropping, and her technical abilities astound. She is digitally connected through social media and blogging, and she makes such strong connections in the physical world too. I could probably write a fifteen-page essay on just how remarkable she is, but I have marking to get to eventually.

Why I write today is partially to recognize Jodi, but more importantly to highlight the importance of recognition in general. Teaching is such a politically sensitive job. We are continually scrutinized by the government and the public. Our careers can quickly become so negative. One of the complaints I’m hearing most often from the teaching community is that they feel undervalued. Perhaps this value doesn’t need to have a dollar sign (although, I won’t complain if it does), but rather it needs to come in the form of praise and recognition. This praise doesn’t need to come in the form of an award, but rather in small, personal moments. It can be as simple as saying “I walked by your classroom today, and I was so impressed with the mature discussion your students were engaged in.” It could be a note in a mailbox thanking someone for their help with a particular lesson. It can be anything, but I think it is all too often forgotten about. We have a busy job, and things like this can quickly be put on the back burner. Let’s support our fellow colleagues and take a moment every now and then to recognize each other for the tremendous work we all do.

If you’re reading this and you’re a teacher, I bet you are thinking about a remarkable teacher you know too. Let them know it! If you are a parent, a student, or anyone else, you probably know a teacher who could use a pat on the back. Take the next three minutes to do it. Send them an email, write them a quick note, text them, tweet them, phone them, or find a funny comic that reminds you of them. Whatever you want. Glue macaroni onto some construction paper, even. Whatever you do, remember to be grateful for the work everyone does. It takes a minute of your time, but it will make that teacher feel wonderful for a lifetime.

Jodi, if you’re reading this, THANK YOU. You are a miracle worker every single day. I have a high-five waiting for you tomorrow morning!

So How Did I Do? My ECMP Self-Evaluation

One of the hardest things I’ve been asked to do all semester is self-evaluate. For my Technology in the Classroom class, we were given the freedom entirely self-evaluate ourselves. Initially, this seemed like a pretty sweet deal. What could be better, right? Wrong.

If you’ve never visited my blog before, I’ll give you a quick heads up — I’ve been doing a lot of rethinking this semester. I haven’t really come to terms with grading and evaluating. I’m all for assessment. I love assessment, but numerically evaluating someone’s work just doesn’t quite sit right with me. This is compacted by self-evaluation. We’ve all been there — the stress of marking one’s self. You know how it goes… the students who put in a ton of work are really tough on themselves, while the students who put in the bare minimum give themselves outstanding marks.

I suppose part of my anxiety of this whole thing is that I know what grade I want. That’s the part of me that is so marks-driven. The other part of me worked to my advantage though too. That part of me saw an opportunity to learn, and, free from rubrics/grades/scary stuff, I learned for the sake of learning. I can honestly say that if I was being graded on my blog, it wouldn’t be half of what it is today. Why? I’m not entirely sure, but I guess it has a lot to do with me doing this for me, not for anyone else.

My mission today: honestly and fairly grade the last four months of my progress.

I’ve been sort of keeping track of my learning from this class on an excel spreadsheet, just to keep myself on track. Dean gave us a list of assignments that we needed to complete this semester. Each assignment is to be weighted no less than15%. How we distribute the marks after that is up to us. To make the math simpler, I gave myself a mark out of whatever percentage I had each category weighted at. He also asked that we justify each mark. Since I’ve become a reflecting maniac, that’s no problem at all.

Assignment: Weekly Blog

Grade: 29 / 30

Justification: Our blog was intended to hold weekly updates with reflections about our class, as well as its presenters. Over the last four months, my blog has grown into a regularly updated (usually a couple of times per week) blog. It has stuff not just from this class, but from other classes, as well as anything education that pops into my head. It’s become a platform for me to think about ideas, gain insight from others, and network. I’ve used to do reflect for the sake of learning (not just because a class told me to), publish projects, write a mini-blog series about WestCAST, post my philosophy of education, and so much more. I do regret not commenting on my classmates blogs nearly as much as I would’ve liked to. However, I did develop the confidence to start commenting on other blogs of the professionals I look up to. It also opened the door for me to have conversations via twitter with many teachers world-wide.

Assignment: Teach Us Something

Grade: 14 / 15

Justification: This was interesting. I decided to present about the flipped classroom unit that I was working on for this class, as well as my Math Ed (then Moral Ed for the assessment). I really wanted to talk about the website Sophia, but part of that meant explaining a flipped classroom. I figured that to really talk about a flipped classroom, I needed to flip my presentation. I couldn’t exactly do that, since I wasn’t able to get the Sophia Tutorial (as recorded on Jing) done in time for the class before. Instead, explained what a flipped classroom was, showed the tutorial video, then talked about how I was using Sophia for my flipped classroom. Aside from how chaotic it was to use Jing to record a tutorial about Sophia in order to talk about flipped classrooms within a 10-minute time frame, I thought it went fairly well. I did find it kind of bizarre to be presenting to a class, but have no indication of whether or not they are listening, engaged, or even in the room. It was certainly more nerve-wracking than I thought it might be. I did have some technical difficulties while using Elluminate at the beginning, but once things got going, I powered through. Overall, I’m really proud of my Teach Us Something presentation.

Assignment: Virtual Internship

Grade: 9 / 15

Justification: I have to say, I really dropped the ball on this one. I was in contact with one of my mentors and ended up being involved in her classroom for their celebration of the 100th day of school. It was very cool. Being a secondary math major, seeing how math looks in a grade 1/2 classroom was eye-opening. I couldn’t get over how capable the students were! They were so inquisitive. I did plan on doing lesson with her class again, but the end of the semester caught up with me and I wasn’t able to. Being one to keep my promises, once my semester calms down, I would like to reconnect and teach a lesson! No reason for learning to stop just because I’m not paying tuition! While that mentorship went well, I can’t say the same for the other. Between me not understanding time zones, getting overwhelmed with homework, and procrastinating, I only skyped with my other mentor once. She taught philosophy in a private high school. While it sounds like a fantastic class, it really wasn’t my cup of tea. I had all the good intentions of the world of getting involved, but I wasn’t as motivated to do so as I thought I would be. I’m really disappointed with myself for this one. I know I’m not that type of person, but I seriously dropped the ball.

Assignment: Create Your Own Assignment

Grade: 24 / 25

Justification: This assignment that I “created” flowed really nicely from my Teach Us Something assignment, my Math Ed project, and my Moral Ed project. I decided that if I’m really going to dig deep into something, I may as well dig as deep as I possibly can. I decided to completely flip the polynomials unit in the Math 9 Curriculum. How I justify putting that project in this course is that I know I put in the effort for more than three courses worth of work (if that makes sense). I specifically justify it in that I used technology for everything for this project. I learned how to use Sophia. I learned how to make a good screencast/tutorial. I learned how to reach out to my twitter network (and build a bigger twitter network) to aid my research. I primarily used blogs for my research (I didn’t use on theoretical, scholarly journal article, since I wanted my research to be grounded in field-tested, real-life classrooms). I used my blog as a platform for publishing my project, reflecting, and networking with other teachers. Lastly, and most frustratingly, I learned how to negotiate Movie Maker when it doesn’t want to cooperate. I spent nearly 14 hours trying unsuccessfully to get it publish my video reflection for the Moral Ed portion of this assignment, so I tried to play it on full-screen mode with a screen recorder. Eleven different software programs later, and still no luck. Magically, it began working again, so my project saved. I then learned how to compress a wmv file down to a mp4 file, then adjust the compression settings to keep it under 500 MB. Needless to say, I feel pretty tech-savvy right now. All in all, I am beyond happy with how this project turned out. It really pushed me to re-establish my beliefs, it’s changed the way I feel about education, and it’s changed the way I want to teach. Because I didn’t have a grade looming over my head with this project, I had the freedom to take it as far as I could, and I certainly did. This project will forever evolve and it will never be complete, which is the beauty of publishing it on a blog. All I can say is, “Stay tuned, folks!”

Assignment: Final “Exam”

Grade: 14 / 15

Justification: Little did I know, but I was learning about my learning while I created my video reflection. It went a lot more smooth than my Moral Ed video did, but it was still a learning experience. I am not a short-winded person (my word count right now is at 1390… oops), so summarizing an entire semester of learning in 5 – 7 minutes was like pulling teeth! I had so much to say and so little time to say it. I can honestly say that I did stay within the time requirements. That in and of itself was a victory. I decided to combine video, audio, and visuals to enhance my reflection. I spoke somewhat candidly to the camera for part of my reflection, but for other parts, I recorded myself in Audacity to make a kind of a podcast that I added visuals to (screenshots and photos from flickr). For ambiance, and to make it seem more professional, I went on a hunt for some soothing music for the background. I initially searched through FreePlayMusic, but I couldn’t quite find what I was looking for. I tweeted out my conundrum and got a few responses of different websites. That’s where I found “6-26-11,” as song by “Easy Listening Section” on Sound Cloud. I messaged him, and he was quite flattered to receive the message asking for his music. It was so cool to get in contact with a complete stranger all for this project. I am so in awe of what I’ve learned to do. Never would I have guessed that I would experience that. My only regret is that it wasn’t done the night before. I finished editing it and publishing it only a few hours before class, so many of my classmates didn’t have a chance to watch it prior to class.

Overall, I have been pushed, challenged, and amazed throughout this entire course. I don’t know what I would do without Google Reader, my Twitter feed, or my blog. It’s really helped to change the way I look at education.

FINAL TOTAL: 90 / 100

How do you think I’ve done? Leave some comments for me — I’m always up for some input.

Final Reflection

For my Technology in the Classroom class, I’ve been tasked with summarizing my learning from the last four months. This in and of itself is a learning process, since there is quite a bit of reflecting. Why so much reflecting? Well, we have a 5 – 7 minute time limit. For me, this means trying to figure out exactly what is the most important stuff to squeeze into my video reflection. Anyone who’s read my blog before (and probably anyone who is reading it now) knows that I am, shall we say, not exactly short-winded. Part of this meant having to edit down each audio clip and video clip to be comprehensible, seamless, and somewhat brief. Not an easy task.

At the very least, I’ve got everything I wanted to say said, and the majority of it made it into my video reflection. I tried to stray from the traditional “what did I learn”-style reflection, and looked more at “how is this going to apply to my life/career”-style. While I did end up mashing the two together, I’m still happy with the end product.

Enjoy!

PS. Even though this class is over, I’ll still be thinking, learning, reflecting, and blogging.

Blogging and Twitter… But Wait! There’s More!

Lately, I’ve been loving the PD I’ve experienced through twitter and this blog. You can read my timely post about it here. In my ECMP 455 class, we had the opportunity to listen to Chad Lehman (@imcguy) as he spoke about free professional development that is all available online. Here I thought that I was rocking PD with twitter and my blog, but I can’t wait to expand my development with some of the great tools he introduced.

I’m not sure I can do all of these justice, but here are a few that really stuck with me:

Every year, K12Online holds a conference for teachers. Why is this so remarkable? Because it’s online, that’s why. They also archive all of their conference materials and presentations, so anyone can go back and find what they need to. The lovely blend of synchronous (for those that have a schedule that matches up, which I hope mine does for this year) and asynchronous (for those of us who can’t “make it” to the conference) makes it easy for anyone to experience professional development.

The next thing Chad spoke about was Classroom 2.0 Live, which is available on iTunes. I would never have guessed that I can get professional development on my iPod. Also available on iTunes is iTunesU. If anyone has any advice on these specific tools I would love to hear from you. From my understanding, they are resources that have many different podcasts and videos on different educational topics. They are all professionally done. Needless to say, I am excited to start exploring.

I’ve been watching TED talks for a while now, and I took TED breaks during marking while I was doing my internship. Now that TED is launching TED Ed, I am even more ecstatic. Aside from TED Ed (say that ten times fast!), TED has literally thousands of videos to watch. This can be daunting, but with some handy searching, finding some good talks isn’t all that hard. I’ve found some of the best TED Talks aren’t “on education,” but rather I can relate something they speak about to education or my life. Sometimes, taking that step back or going at it from a different angle puts things into perspective

iLearn Technology Blog was also given as a resource for us to use. You can never get your hands on enough info about technology. It’s an edublog that focuses on integrating technology into the classroom. It’s great because it doesn’t stay too focused on one thing — it really surveys all different technology available.

Similarly, FreeTech4Teachers.com has regular posts about different types of technology available. It focuses each post on a different technology, sort of giving it a review, with practical applications and how it can be used. I appreciate that it looks at some sites/technology that don’t necessarily directly market to education, then gives places/spaces to integrate them into the classroom/staffroom/school.

My eyes have been opened yet again. My PD is about to get a whole lot better. I’m finding that I’m also getting more efficient with my professional development. I know I should be using something like delicious, but between Google Reader and my browsers bookmarks, I’m keeping track of my favourite sites, as well as sites I know I’ll need to refer back to. I’ll be starting a “PD” tag in my bookmarks starting… now!

Thank you Chad for joining us on Monday!

UPDATE: Courtesy of Chad, I present to you his slides from Monday evening. He tweeted me the link, so I thought I better share it with everyone. Enjoy.

Teach Us Something

Tomorrow night for my ECMP 455 class, I’m signed up to “present” for ten minutes about some form of technology that intrigues me and that I see practical classroom applications for. Deciding what to do was hard, not because I had no ideas, but because I had way too many. Initially, I was going to present about Wolfram-Alpha, but one of the guest speakers in our class sort of covered it. Then I thought I could present about UJam, but it just wasn’t going to be awesome enough. Finally, I settled on talking about flipped classrooms, especially since they’ve been my education crush lately (see definition below).

Definition of an Education Crush

Here’s where the real problem started. I wanted to talk about flipped classrooms in a flipped sort of way. I decided that I would do a short talk about flipped classrooms, as per a standard presentation. I am then going to give my classmates a link to follow to watch a video (sort of a makeshift flipped presentation, but not really). After they watched the video, we could have a quick discussion about it. Here’s where it gets ambitious. My friend, and fellow student-teacher, Kyle, introduced me to a free website called Sophia. It is great for making Learning Packets (collections of media and resources for students with teacher-created content capabilities) for students, and I really like it for setting up a successful flipped classroom.

I’m not exactly sure how this whole thing is going to over — a lesson within a lesson seems a bit chaotic. Maybe this is the part of me that really couldn’t decide what to do, or maybe this is the side of me who is trying to escape the standard “presentation.” I’m not sure. I just wanted to talk about some things that I’m passionate about.

Here is the link the the Jing I created for my flipped portion of my presentation (i.e. the part about Sophia). Feedback is much appreciated.

If I’ve got my wits about me, I’ll record my presentation and post it in another blog post as well. I guess we’ll just see how it goes. I hope I stick to the ten-minute time allotment!

Live Blogging

I’m finally at WestCAST! I had my presentation on an E-Advisor model and it went really well. Likely, I’ll try to post something about that in the next few days. It was tons of fun, and I wasn’t nervous at all!

For this conference, I’m thinking that this is a perfect framework for me to try different types of blogging. The WordPress App has a “quick video” option, and I think I’ll give that a try. Feedback would be greatly appreciated!

Stay tuned..