Summary of learning

My Journey through ECMP 355 has been an exciting but challenging one. I was introduced to and tried many new programs such has Twitter, Blackboard collaborate, WordPress, Google Community, Smore, Kahoot and Pensieve. I stepped outside of my comfort zone and joined Twitter and created a blog to share and reflect on my thoughts. Despite the challenges, my journey through ECMP 355 has also been very rewarding. I have gained an understanding on the importance for both myself and my students to develop a positive online identity. And I am now more comfortable in knowing how to do so. I have also expanded my toolbox of technology resources in which I can use in my classroom. Finally, I have grown as pre-service teacher by learning meaningful ways I can incorporate technology into the classroom.

Please watch the following summary of learning Jennifer and I created to illustrate the road we have traveled over the last thirteen weeks to expand our knowledge about technology and its place in the classroom.

And That’s A Rap

Over the last thirteen weeks, I have been learning to quilt mostly from online sources. A few times I did seek support/advice from the employees at Fabricland, a classmate, and a family friend. But this was only when I had a question about something I had found online. When I first heard that we were being asked to spend 50-100 hours learning a new skill from online sources and then sharing our progress online, I was a little skeptical in how successful I would be with this project. I thought that learning a skill from online sources was not going to meet my learning style. I know that personally I am a visual and auditory learner. I feel that I learn best when I am told how to do something or shown how to do something. As well, I like to be given a finished product and then figure out how to recreate that product.

Before taking ECMP 355, I associated learning from online sources as learning information rather than skills. I thought skills were best learned in face-to-face situations were you could observe demonstrations of the skills, practice the skills, and then receive immediate feedback. I think my views on how skills are best learned are influenced by my previous experiences. However, after learning to quilt using online sources, I now realize that there is so much information online that you can learn any skill. Due to the mass amount of information available, there are so many different methods and perspectives available that you are bound to find one that will work for you. If one method or resource does not make sense, then you can supplement your understanding with another resource.

Before this semester, I associated online sources with reading long, professionally written texts where I would have to pull the information out that I needed. However, I now realize that online resources can be divided into two different groups. The first group of resources is websites. I found the most beneficial websites in supporting my learning journey were personal websites like blogs. With these types of websites, the information was straight forward and easy to understand. Especially if the information was presented in point form and well organized using pages, categories, and subheadings, it was easy to follow and comprehend and, in turn, had a more successful outcome. The websites that also included pictures were helpful because seeing a visual of what they were writing about helped clarify their words.

The second and my favorite type of resources are videos. I found videos the best way to learn online because often, the person giving the directions was actually doing the steps. I found that through the videos, I got more detailed instructions rather than just the highlights of what you are suppose to do. Furthermore, pictures are great but with a video I was able to see how to successfully get to each step. Finally, I liked that with videos I am able to perform the task along with the video.

Below is a chronological list of the things I have learned along my quilting journey.  When visiting each blog post, you will see my favorite and most useful resources that supported each step of my learning and why I liked each resource or found it useful. To see my full quilting journey and all of the resources that got me to a finished product please check out my blog under the My Major Project (ECMP 355) tab.

Highlights of my Quilting Journey:

  1. Choosing to Quilt
  2. How to thread the sewing machine and wind the bobbin
  3. How to have a clean seam where the thread is not bunching up
  4. Video: What I have learned so far 
  5. Choosing a style of quilt and what pattern I would use
  6. How to choose fabrics that will look good together
  7. How to cut the fabric into blocks and then strips
  8. How to design an appealing to the eye quilt top
  9. How to sew the blocks together, how to press seams, and how to square the blocks off
  10. How to connect the blocks into rows
  11. How to solve the problem of the blocks not being square
  12. Loosing quilt pieces
  13. How to sew the rows together into a completed quilt top: How to sew long seams
  14. What a border does to a finished quilt top
  15. How to add a border
  16. How to quilt the quilt top, batting and backing together
  17. How to bind the edges

After completing all these steps I have a wonderful finished product that I am so proud of!!

My Finished Quilt!!

My Finished Quilt!!

How is edtech related to social justice?

This week in ECMP 355, we were presented with two blog prompts to think about: “How is edtech related to social justice?” and “What can we do to make the Internet a more equitable place?” Both these ideas were new to me as I have never really been exposed to them or been required to think about them. After some reflection, I started to wonder why I have never been introduced to the idea of there being a connection between edtech and social justice. Over the last four years of my education degree, we have talked about social justice in a number of different capacities, however, never in regards to edtech. This started to concern me because edtech and technology in the classroom is growing in popularity. As pre-service teachers, we are entering into the education field at a time when it is almost expected that we are going to use technology in the classroom. Therefore, I think it is vitally important that we are made aware of the connection between social justice and edtech. More importantly, we need to understand how we can take steps to make the Internet a more equitable place for all our students.

When I first heard we were going to be talking about how edtech is related to social justice, my first question was, “are the relations between edtech and social justice positive or negative?” I think social media allows people to share social justice issues quickly and to a mass amount of people. Again, this can be both positive and negative because it can be a way to bring attention to otherwise silenced issues but it can also bring attention to negatively portrayed issues because even if you don’t agree with it you are still viewing it on social media, which still brings attention to it. I thought that social media was a place for all groups to speak out, so I was amazed to hear that some social media spaces have practices in place to silence voices. Therefore, I think the representations of social issues we see on social media are not always accurate.

I am still asking myself how to make the Internet a more equitable place for all, particularly my students. I think this demonstrates the importance of teaching students how to be digitally literate. I want my students to be critical thinkers in terms of what they see online. As well, I want my students to use social media to break down barriers rather than further the gap.

Pensieve Resource Package

I had a blast working with Tessa Vibe, Breanne Hack, and Jennifer Clace to create our resource package for ECMP 355. We chose to focus our resource package on Pensieve because some of our group members had heard about Pensieve during internship and shared it with the rest of us. None of us had ever heard of Pensieve before internship or had used it or seen it implemented in the classroom. So we were curious what all the excitement was about. As well, I was excited to explore Pensieve more because during internship, I had the opportunity to experience guided reading with some elements of Daily 5. During our guided reading time, I would meet with two groups of students each day. While reading with the student, I would try to collect anecdotal records. However, I was never able to establish a good system for data collection. My method included having a book and dedicating a page for each student. However, that did not always seem like the best method. Some days I would just write my anecdotal records on sticky notes and then try to get them into my book after. On other days, I would write one sheet for all the students in the group and then sort through the notes on each student. On the days I was really organized, I would have my book there at the table with me so that I could write on each student’s page. In the end I was not overly fond of any of these methods and was still seeking a better method.

I think using Pensieve could be a better method for me. Pensieve is a program created by the two sisters to help teachers take better organized anecdotal records. Pensieve was originally designed for Daily 5 as the goals for comprehension, accuracy, fluency, and efficiency are already pre-loaded into the program for the teacher to choose from. However, a teacher could enter their own goals to customize it for any subject.

So what exactly is Pensieve you ask? The main features of Pensieve are that, as the teacher, you can enter each student in your class and their reading level. You then have a space for each student to set what goal they are going to be working on, the instructions you will give, record anecdotal rerecords, decide what the next step should be, and whether the student has met this goal. As well, you can group the students and then record the information based on the group. We created a smore with more information on Pensieve and screen casts on how to add your students and create groups. I would recommend any teacher curious about Pensieve or wanting to use it in there classroom to watch these videos. You will discover just how easy Pensieve is. Please check out our Pensieve smore!!

Enter your class on Pensieve

Enter your class on Pensieve

Space to manage each students information.

Space to manage each students information.

Another great thing about Pensieve is that is has bunch of really cool extra features. Our favorite feature is the ‘share’ feature. So if another teacher has Pensieve, you can send a student’s information to them. This would be really helpful if a student is moving part way though the year or at the end of the year. That way the new teacher has an idea of where to start. The video bellow will give a more detailed explanation of all the extra features. This video can also be found on our smore.

 

The final section of our smore and resource package is a collection of our favorite apps that can be integrated into the different areas of Daily 5.

Apps for Daily 5

Apps for Daily 5

 

 

Assistive Technology

Technology in the classroom is rapidly expanding including the assistive technology that is available to students. As a teacher, I feel that it is my job to create an environment where students are given the tools that they need to be successful. Allowing a child to use technology to complete academic tasks is not cheating or taking the easy way out. Rather it is creating an inclusive environment and providing the right tools so that students can perform to their full potential.

For children with disabilities, assistive technology can help them overcome hurdles and conquer barriers that may be present due to their disability. I think a strength of allowing students to use assistive technology is that it allows the teacher to assess the task at hand and helps to eliminate other aspects. For example, if you want to assess a student’s ability to construct a story with all the elements of a story you have been studying. But if you have a student the struggles with written expression, it will affect their ability to get a story down on paper. Therefore, to ask the student to hand write a story may not be an accurate picture of their understanding of the elements of a story. You want to assess their ability of being able to create a story that has all the elements of story not details such as their spelling. So I think allowing students to use assistive technology to orally scribe the story still gives an accurate picture of what you want to assess.

Assistive technology can gives students with disabilities the ability to fully participate in activities in the classroom. As well, it will build their independence and self esteem in the classroom. I think the following video perfectly illustrates the independence assistive technology can grant to students with disabilities.

I have personally seen the difference that assistive technology can make for a learner. Throughout high school I was supported by a few different means of assistive technology that led to my academic success and making school a less stressful environment for me.

There are many things that need to be considered when exploring assistive technology for students. However some of my favorite assistive technologies that I have experienced using are:

  • Dragon Dictate– Dragon Dictate is available as both an app and software for your computer. It is a voice recognition software that allows you to speak to the computer while your computer is typing what you say. The one thing I do not like about the Dragon Dictate software is you have to train it to listen to your voice. This can be time consuming. Check the above link for Dragon Dictate as it provides a great detailed explanation on how to get Dragon Dictate, what situations it will support you in, and what it is capable of.
  • Kurzweil– Kurzweil is software that offers the opposite service of Dragon Dictate. With Kurzweil, you are able to scan in any text document. Kurzweil will then read the text to the student. As the text is read to the student, each word is tracked by a colored bar. Kurzweil also has many features to go along with the text being read to the students. Check out the video on the home page of the Kurzweil site (found at the link above) for further explanation of additional features.
  • Livescribe Smartpen– I would say that the Smartpen is the best kept secret and most under used piece of assistive technology. With a Smartpen you are able to record audio along with any text that you write at the same time as the audio. You can then upload the audio and written notes onto your computer or tablet. Clicking on different places in the text will take you to that spot in the audio. To fully understand what a Smartpen is capable of, check out the pen casts at the above Livescribe Smartpen link.
Smartpen and Notebook

Smartpen and Notebook

  • Office 365- Many people may not consider Office 365 “assistive technology” however, the app has some great features. With the app on a smart phone you can use Word online and scribe any word processing document. Then because the document is on your Office 365 account, you can open the document on your computer to print or do any formatting that needs to be done. This is my new favorite tool. I learned about it at a Technology Lunch and Learn during internship. I then used it all the time during internship. I was AMAZED at how accurate the voice recognition is: I would almost say that it is perfect.
Office 365 app

Office 365 App

My First Attempt at Coding.

Yesterday in ECMP 355, we talked about coding. I heard the term “coding” before but I had no idea what it was or what it did. Please correct me if I am wrong, but I understand a code to be what is used to make websites, web programs, apps, or games. A code is like a set of instructions that allows a person to tell a computer what they want it to do. This sounded really complicated to me, and I thought I never used a code in what I do online. But Katia explained that when I click on the text editing mode and put a picture into my blog, the great big long line of letters and numbers I get is an html code. I know I did not make this code but thanks for boosting my confidence Katia for reassuring me that I do know what a code is. I was excited to try to code something of my own….until I actually tried. I was SOOOO frustrating!!! My main frustration stemmed from the fact that I had a vision of what I wanted to do but I could not figure out how to do it. In the beginning, I wanted to have the crab crawl across the bottom of the sea with a school of fish swimming above him and a frog jumping up and down on the bottom of the ocean. It took me close to two hours to get the crab to crawl across the bottom of the ocean. So, I ended up settling for just the crab and one fish. As well, I was frustrated by the fact that the instructions, I put in said ‘ten steps’ or turn ‘fifteen degrees’ but that’s not actually how much the animals moved. So to get the fish to turn in a full circle it was a lot of guess and checking to see how many ‘degrees’ I needed for him to go in a full circle because it was not 365 degrees like I thought it should be. And then the guess and test method took forever because I could not figure out how to reset the fish to the beginning if it did not end up where I wanted it to. So, I would delete the fish and start again. I am sure there is a much easier way to do this but I could not figure it out.

I think coding could be a valuable leaning experience for students because they would have to use their problem solving skills. In math, students often use guess and check when solving word problems. To effectively solve word problems using the guess and check method, they have to develop a system to follow. Having the students practice their problem solving skills in a visual manner will help some learners to then better implement them in math. As well, coding is a beneficial learning activity for students because they are asked to see the big picture (finished product) and then break it down to see each individual part.

However, I don’t think coding is valuable learning activity for all students. As teachers, I think we need to realize that some student would really enjoy and benefit from learning how to code and others would find it very frustrating, confusing, and/or stressful. If I was to have my students engage in a coding activity, I would also provide alternate activities that would have the same learning benefits so that students could chose as to what they did. For example, students could make a short video clip where their characters are made out of plasticine and they have to move the characters a little bit at a time to make a fluent motion in the video. Students would be developing the same skills but in a different manner that might not be as frustrating.

Check out my first coding project- Under the Sea!! Click on the green flag to see the animals play under the sea.

 

Five Card Flickr Story- A Day at the Park!


Five Card Story: A Day at the Park!

a Five Card Flickr story created by JayTay


flickr photo by bionicteaching


flickr photo by bionicteaching


flickr photo by bionicteaching


flickr photo by Serenae


flickr photo by dwtno

On Saturday morning Zach woke up extra early because he was so excited! Zach jumped out of bed and raced to his moms bedroom but she was asleep. Zach banged on her door until she woke up. Zach’s mom sleepily opened the door to see Zach standing their fully dressed with a bowl of cereal in his hand. Before she could say anything Zach put the cereal in his moms right hand and grabbed her other hand dragging her to the front door. Once Zach’s mom realized what was going on she said “Zach, its 6:00 in the morning, go back to bed”! “But mom” replied Zach “I have been waiting all week”! Zach’s mom had been promising him all week that on Saturday she would take him to the park to try out his new 3D sidewalk chalk he had gotten for his birthday. Zach and his mom agreed that 9:30 would be a good time to go to the park. Zach’s mom went back to bed and Zach camped out at the dinning room table sketching out what his first drawing with his new sidewalk chalk would be. He drew dinosaurs, elephants and aliens but finally he decided that his very first drawing would be of a big scary monster. When they finally got to the park Zach Spent two hours drawing his monster. When he was done he stood up and proudly admired his work, until is baby sister crawled right over top of his monster and smudged in EVERYWHERE!!! Zach was crushed, he was so sad he started to cry. He had worked so hard and now his monster was gone. However, Zach was quickly distracted by the other kids playing in the mud. Zach ran over to join them. The kids were using sticks and stones to make roads in the mud to drive there toys cards on. Zach set out to collect some more sticks to help the other kids make the roads. Like any little sister, Zach’s little sister Maggie wanted to join. Maggie started to drive Zach’s favourite blue car through the mud. Maggie soon became worried that her hands were dirty. She ran over the her mom, yelling “wash, wash, wash” and waving her hands in the air. Zach made sure to grab his car back while she was gone and completely covered it in mud so Maggie would not want to play with it again. After 3 hours of playing at the park Zach, Maggie, and there mom returned home tired and hungry. They were all excited when they walked in the door and saw their favourite cake in the middle of the table. While they had been at the park their dad had spent the morning baking them an extra special treat. After a lunch of grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup and of course an extra big piece of cake for dessert they all had a nice long nap! What a perfect Saturday!


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