Monday, 28 October 2013

Teaching With Technology Website Video

On this page I have included a sixteen minute video which highlights some of the key components of the Teaching With Technology website resource.  This resource is one component of my Major Digital Project for EC&I 831.  In the video I describe:

  • the main focus of the resource
  • the nine effective teaching strategies
  • creating the environment for learning
  • helping students develop understandings
  • helping students extend and apply knowledge
  • the criteria involved in selecting the suggested tools

Please feel free to add any tool suggestions you feel would assist in the implementation of various effective teaching strategies here.  Thoughts or suggestions for the professional development workshops?  I would love to hear your comments.  For detailed information about my entire project, please visit the "Major Digital Project" section of this website or view any posts with the tag, "Major Digital Project".

Friday, 25 October 2013

Teaching with Technology Professional Development Workshops

In this post I intend to provide a bit of background around the development of our Teaching with Technology Professional Development workshop sessions.  For a complete overview of my Major Digital Project please click here.

As described in my Teaching with Technology Website post, Leanne Forrest and I originally developed a resource designed to facilitate the integration of technology with nine effective teaching strategies to improve student learning for the 2012 IT Summit.  For the 2013-2014 school year, we wanted to offer professional development opportunities for teachers looking to integrate technology into effective teaching practice.  The development of these workshops was a multi-step process.

We began by outlining our ultimate goal for this project, which is to develop a community of learners to support each other, and to reflect on professional practice through a Moodle course blog.  We knew we wanted participants to complete the following as part of the project:
1.       Reflect on the role of technology to support the nine research-based strategies for increasing student achievement.
2.       Explore, plan and implement a technology tool to support an instructional strategy or outcome. The model will support selecting, evaluating, and reflecting on the teacher’s plan.
3.       Share the successes, challenges, and implementation of the strategy or additional technology integration as a community of learners through a series of blog posts and reflections.  
Ultimately our goal is to showcase these projects and experiences with other interested teachers through a technology fair.

Once we had established our goals, we revisited the Teaching with Technology resource to determine changes we felt we needed to make in order to achieve our goals.  Our original resource only outlined seven of the effective teaching strategies.  We decided it was important to provide background information and tool options for all nine strategies, so we reviewed the Classroom Instruction that Works book and updated our resource to include summaries and tool options for all nine strategies.

Next, we determined a time-frame for delivering the workshops.  We decided to offer sessions in October, January, and February with a focus on Grade 4-12 teachers.  With this decided, we sent out a registration email to teachers.  Current registration for all three sessions is at approximately 30 teachers.

Finally, we decided upon the workshop format.  When we first developed the website, we delivered the information as a "presentation".  We spoke about each of the strategies and explained the tools we had listed.  However, we did not want this to be the main focus of the Teaching with Technology workshops. Instead, we wanted to ensure teachers had adequate time for resource exploration and project planning.  With this in mind, we developed a workshop agenda to allow for the following:
  • Project overview
  • Introduction to the Nine Effective Teaching Strategies
  • Connecting to the Teaching Strategies
  • Project planning time
  • Evaluating technology tools using the SECTIONS Model
  • Documenting the Learning Process - Introduction to blogging in Moodle
  • Individual project development time 
Leanne and I developed a number of resources in order to support the Teaching With Technology workshop, including: Teaching with Technology Website; Mimio presentation file; and Moodle course with Project Overview and links to required resources.
In future posts about my Major Digital Project I will describe in further detail the Teaching with Technology website, the presentation file, the Moodle course and blogging process, and the SECTIONS Model teachers used to select and use technology tools for the project.


Thursday, 24 October 2013

The Maker Movement

Tuesday night my EC&I 831 class had the pleasure of hearing Sylvia Martinez speak.  Sylvia is the co-author of Invent To Learn.  I am currently about half-way through the book, so I was thrilled to get the opportunity to hear Sylvia speak.

Sylvia is a proponent of the "Maker Movement", which is focused on allowing students to construct knowledge through experiences.  Many of her ideas are based on the teachings of Seymour Papert, who stated, "The role of the teacher is to create the conditions for invention rather than provide ready-made knowledge".  Sylvia's view is that kids are not going to be engineers - they already ARE engineers.  She suggests that teachers should provide students with experiences, because learning occurs when students are able to connect existing knowledge to a new experience.

When developing a learning opportunity, she suggests the following variables as described by Gary Stager:
  • A good prompt, motivating challenge, or thoughtful question
  • Appropriate materials
  • Sufficient time
  • Supportive culture, including a range of expertise
During her presentation, Sylvia described three game changers of the Maker Movement:
  1. Fabrication (Includes CAD and 3D Printers)
  2. Physical Computing ( Includes Raspberry Pi and Arduino)
  3. Programming (Includes Turtleart)
While reading her book, one quote relating to fabrication really struck a chord.  Sylvia states "There is every reason to believe that fabrication technology will change the world even more than the information technology revolution has."   During her presentation, Alec Couros referred to this as "disruptive technology".  Many in class, including myself, had not heard this term before.  Alec expanded by describing it as "Something that brings about societal changes".  I definitely see fabrication technology as something that could bring about such changes to our society.

Like many of the participants, I was very excited with the ideas Sylvia suggested.  Her MaKey MaKey kits got me thinking about ways that I have allowed students the opportunity to Invent to Learn.

Four years ago I was asked to develop Middle Years workshops to integrate technology and curriculum in the areas of Practical and Applied Arts, Language Arts, Science, and Career Education through the exploration of technology careers and skills for the 21st century.   The result was "Ex.C.I.T.E. Camp - Exploring Careers in Technology Education".

Over a period of three years, my colleagues and I provided numerous half-day workshops for hundreds of students.  The four workshop modules we developed as part of Ex.C.I.T.E. Camp focused on the areas of robotics, electronic circuits, photography, and webpage design.  These workshops proved to be extremely popular with students, and were very rewarding to teach, because students were fully engaged in hands-on learning.

The robotics workshop was designed to give students an introduction to basic robot programming.  In small groups, students were asked to build robots using Lego Mindstorm NXT kits.  Once built, students were challenged to add various sensors to their robot to perform various tasks.  Through trial-and-error, students learned how to program the sensors to perform different functions.  With extended time, teachers could allow students the chance to create more complex programs to upload to the robots.  This workshop proved to be especially popular with Grade 7 & 8 students.

The electronic snap circuit session was designed to support the Grade 6 Science curriculum for the electricity unit.  Using Electronic Circuit Kits students were given the chance to create dozens of circuit projects from a list of more than 300 possibilities.  Students enjoyed creating working alarms, flying saucers, and AM radios.

A valuable lesson that we learned when planning and implementing the workshops with students was that they needed LOTS of time for experimentation and play.  Our first sessions included direct instruction at the beginning of the workshop.  We soon realized that students learned the same concepts we were telling them about by actually working and experimenting with the kits, so we ensured that hands-on-learning time was the priority.

Another thing we learned was that the projects described in the kits were good, but students learned a lot more when faced with a challenge they were asked to solve.  For example, the kits provide detailed instructions for students to build series and parallel circuits.  Instead of simply asking students to build Project #3 and Project #4, we provided students with the following challenges:

  • Using two light bulbs, 1 switch, 2 batteries, and 8 wires can you create a circuit to light both bulbs?
  •  Using two light bulbs, 1 switch, 2 batteries, and 8 wires can you create a circuit where one bulb remains lit when you unscrew the second bulb?
In this way students created a variety of different circuits and experienced first-hand the difference between series and parallel circuits.

Because the Education Technology department is currently focused on directly supporting a number of new initiatives, I get fewer opportunities to be directly involved in Ex.C.I.T.E. Camp workshops.  However, teachers are still able to borrow these kits, and the workshops continue to be a popular way for students to learn about circuits and robotics.

Thinking about starting your own version of Ex.C.I.T.E. Camp?  Feel free to contact me for more information.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Teaching with Technology Website

As explained in my previous post, "Final Project Outline", Leanne Forrest and I originally created the Teaching with Technology website as part of a presentation we gave for the IT Summit in 2012.  In this post I intend to provide a bit of background around the development of this resource.  For a complete overview of my Major Digital Project please click here.

The inspiration for the Teaching with Technology resource came from reading the book -  Classroom Instruction that Works 2nd Edition by Dean, Hubbell, Pitler, and Stone.  In the book these authors regroup the nine effective teaching strategies as originally identified by Marzano, Pickering and Pollock into the following three categories:
1. Creating the Environment for Learning
2. Helping Students Develop Understandings
3. Helping Students Extend and Apply Knowledge

Focusing on these three categories and nine effective teaching strategies, Leanne and I developed a resource designed to facilitate the integration of technology with these strategies to improve student learning.  As is stated on our home page, "Focusing on these strategies to improve learning while matching pedagogy, content, and technological knowledge, allows a focus on teaching and learning that includes technology."  

While this resource lists a number of technology tools, our focus is not on telling teachers which tool they should use, or on providing them with technical instruction for how to use each tool.  Instead, our goal is to help teachers identify effective teaching practice, and to realize that technology can be used to help support the implementation of each teaching strategy.

In the resource have provided a brief overview and summary for each category, and have divided each category into sections based on the corresponding teaching strategies.  For each strategy we have included suggestions of tools which could be utilized to integrate the strategy into teaching practice.  By no means is this list of tools all inclusive, and it has been updated and modified over time.  As part of this final presentation we have created a public Google Spreadsheet and we are asking for teacher input.  Our intention is to periodically visit the spreadsheet and to update the website with tools suggested by workshop participants.  Please feel free to add to the document.
When first developing the list of tools, Leanne and I attempted to suggest tools that fit the following criteria whenever possible:
1. Since we originally designed this resource for Regina Catholic teachers we did not include apps, because we did not have tablet devices available at a system level at the time of creation of this resource.  Our intention is to further develop this website to include app suggestions for each teaching strategy.
2. Because our division does not have student email accounts we tried to include tool options which do not require student email accounts in order to create accounts
3. Because many Web 2.0 tools include terms of service which require students to be 13 or older to create an account, we tried to include tool options which do not require the creation of accounts, or that allow for teachers to create "class" accounts for students.
4. When possible we have tried to list "free" tool options.

In preparing for our Teaching with Technology Professional Development sessions we revisited the entire resource and made a number of  modifications:
  • Added the "Reinforcing Effort and Providing Feedback" section
  • Added the "Cues, Questions, and Advance Organizers" section
  • Added the "Additional Tools" collaborative Google Document
  • Revisited each effective teaching strategy section and modified suggested tools (removing outdated tools and updating new offerings)
Please feel free to explore the effective teaching strategies document and to add to the list of tools we have suggested.  Feedback will be greatly appreciated.

1. Creating the Learning Environment
2. Helping Students Develop Understandings
3. Helping Students Extend and Apply Knowledge

I plan to provide a more detailed video explanation of this resource in future "Major Digital Project" reflections, along with information regarding the development of the professional development workshops, and project reflections. Please visit the "Major Digital Projects" section of my blog for resources and support materials related to this project.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Updated Presentations Page

I have updated my presentations page to include some of the Social Studies and Mimio resources I have co-presented over the past year.  Please feel free to check them out here.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

"Future-cation" - Virtual Keynote Presentation

In January 2012 I attended the FETC conference in Orlando.  I would highly recommend this conference to any person involved with Educational Technology.  The keynote sessions were excellent, and the conference offered literally hundreds of break-out sessions to choose from.  Since attending the conference, I have taken part in two of the free virtual conference events which have been offered by FETC.  Thursday I listened in on a number of sessions offered as part of the 2013 Virtual FETC event.  For those who missed it, I believe sessions can still be accessed by registering here
The keynote session by Marc Prensky was titled "FUTURE-CATION: New Basics and New Balance For a New Age".  In the 60 minute presentation Marc addressed three big questions:
1. What is the goal of education?
2. How do we teach for the future?
3. What should we teach in the 21st century?

Marc suggested that "our kids see a world in which everything is more variable, uncertain, complex, ambiguous, rapidly changing, and connected."  And unlike us, these kids never knew a world that was not that way.  According to Marc the goal of education is different for society, teachers, and kids.  He suggested the main focus of education should not be on the "learning" but on the "becoming".  We should be preparing students by helping them become good, capable people, and learning should just be the means to this goal.

As for how to teach for the future, Marc proposed that education can no longer function from the top down.   "The goal is to make all of our students (and citizens) effective 'Nodes on the Network,' because in the future 'Education' will have less to do with courses, diplomas and exams and far more to do with everyone's becoming linked to resources, and to each other... With teachers as coaches and Guides... and, of course, with more technology".

An idea I really liked is Marc's suggestion that technology should be viewed not as a tool, but as a foundational skill.  He listed a number of "Skills" he called verbs.  These included things like thinking critically; presenting logically; communicating; persuading; being rigorous; understanding context; and creating emotion.  The verbs are things that "stay the same".  Marc compared "Tools" to nouns, and suggested that these change rapidly.  Examples included the shift from books to e-books; blackboards to electronic boards; laptops to tablets; and Powerpoint to Prezi.  What I really liked was Marc's suggestion that we "teach and assign only verbs and give students their choice of nouns."  he is not concerned that technology will replace teachers because it lacks "respect, empathy, and passion".

Marc concluded the presentation by addressing what teachers should focus on in teaching.  I agreed with his viewpoint that we should not just use technology to teach old things better.  Technology should be used to advance our pedagogy and to be used in new an innovative ways.  Marc stated that our problem in education is that we teach too much from and about the past and we teach it in the wrong context.  He dubbed this type of teaching "Past-ucation".  Past-ucation worked in education in the past because the world changed slowly, and in that context past-ucation worked well.  Instead, Marc proposed that the focus on education today should not be for or about the past, but for and about the future.  To do that, Marc feels schools should focus less on the "MESS"
Social Studies
and more on the new core basics: Effective Thinking; Effective Action; Effective Relationships; and Effective Accomplishments.

How might you respond to some of the reflection questions Marc proposed to participants?
1. How do you balance the past with the future in your school?
2. List as many things as you can in your school that would constitute Future-cation.  What would you add?
3. How would you integrate the subjects currently taught in your school into the areas of "Thinking, Action, Relationships, and Accomplishments"?  What tasks would you have students do under each of the new basics?

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Final Project Outline

Teaching with Technology

This week I took a number of significant steps in the development of my EC&I 831 major digital project.  For me, this project has been in the works for close to two years, and it is one I am hoping to continue developing into the 2014-15 school year.  Over the next few weeks I intend to outline my project; share the resources which have been created to support this project; and to document and reflect on the processes involved in achieving my goals.  As this is a work in progress, any comments or feedback would be greatly appreciated.  So what exactly does my final project entail, and why have I been working on it for close to two years?
In the spring of 2012 Leanne Forrest, Digital Fluency Consultant for Regina Catholic Schools, approached me with the idea of creating a presentation for IT Summit in Saskatoon.  Because our division was actively promoting effective teaching strategies, we felt it would be a good idea to develop a resource that identified ways in which technology could be integrated to support these effective teaching strategies.  In preparation for the presentation we read Classroom Instruction that Works 2nd Edition by Dean, Hubbell, Pitler, and Stone.
Marzano, Pickering and Pollock (2001) examined decades of research to find the teaching strategies that have the most impact on student learning as part of the first edition of Classroom Instruction that Works.    In 2012 Dean, Hubbell, Pitler, and Stone revisited these strategies and updated them for the 21st century by dividing them into three categories. 

In 2012 Leanne and I collaborated in the development of a website designed to facilitate the integration of technology with these strategies to improve student learning.  The initial version of the website summarized seven of the nine effective teaching strategies and identified a number of tools which could be utilized to support the integration of each strategy. 

For the 2013-2014 school year, Leanne and I have decided to provide professional development opportunities for interested Regina Catholic Schools teachers looking to integrate technology into effective teaching practice.  Over the next few months we will be offering a series a Teaching with Technology workshops which will focus on technology as a tool for reinforcing effective teaching strategies.  Our intent is to also develop a community of learners to support each other, and to reflect on our practice through a blog on the Educational Technology Moodle Course page.  

As participants in this PD, teachers will…
1.       Reflect on the role of technology to support the nine research-based strategies for increasing student achievement. Examples of tools and implementation strategies will be shared as part of the session
2.       Explore, plan and implement a technology tool to support an instructional strategy or outcome. The model will support selecting, evaluating, and reflecting on the teacher’s plan.
3.       Share the successes, challenges, and implementation of the strategy or additional technology integration as a community of learners through a series of blog posts and reflections.  Our intention is to build a professional learning community interested in education technology to support improved teaching and learning that can model reflective practice.  

Workshop participants will have time to explore different technology tools and select one to apply to their teaching.  We will guide teachers through a model to prepare for and reflect on the effectiveness of the tool to support learning in the classroom.  And, most importantly, the teacher participants in this PD will share their learning and support themselves and others with improving teaching through technology.  Ultimately, we would like to showcase these projects as part of a technology fair or "unconference"in the Fall of 2014.
Over the next few weeks I intend to blog about the process involved in creating and implementing this professional development opportunity.  Related posts will be tagged "Major Digital Project" and "Teaching with Technology".  Resources related to my project will be uploaded to the "Major Digital Project" section of my blog.  Feedback related to the website or project as a whole is greatly appreciated.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Tweaking My Blog

This past week my EC&I 831 course had the great fortune of hearing Sue Waters present "An Introduction to Blogging."  As a novice blogger, I listened with great interest as Sue provided tip after tip aimed at making each of us better bloggers.  Over the course of this week I revisited the notes I had taken and began to implement  many of the suggestions Sue had recommended.  Here is a summary of what I have managed to accomplish:

1. Failure to Link
Sue's first suggestion of providing hyperlinks wherever possible is a key benefit for using blogs.  I had been attempting to provide some hyperlinks in my posts, but Sue's example demonstrated for me the types of links I should be including.  People reading my blog should be able to easily explore the topics I am writing about, and hyperlinks provide that ease of access.  I am now making an attempt to include more hyperlinks in my posts.

2. Failure to Connect
In describing the blogging cycle, Sue suggested that people may be good at publishing posts.  However, she noted that effective blogging is about more than just publishing posts. A slide she included summed it up well: "Blogging isn't publishing.  It's about social learning."
 As part of the cycle, I should be reading and reflecting on the posts of others, and then commenting on those posts.  Having connected and engaged in dialogue with others, I should then return to my blog to continue my publishing.  This week I have made an effort to read the posts of fellow colleagues, and to comment on a few.

Sue also mentioned the importance of including an "About Me" page on a blog.  As a result, I now have a dedicated "About Me" page which includes a brief summary about me and contact info for each of my social network profiles.  I also took the time to update my profile descriptions with Google+, LinkedIn, and Twitter.  I also made it easier to follow me on Twitter by including a "Recent Tweets" gadget on my blog.

Enjoying "the process" while  tweaking my blog
3. Reading Online
Sue provided a number of hints for improving the reading experience of visitors to the blog.  I have kept my theme pretty plain, so my blog did not require any radical changes.  However, I did agree with Sue's suggestions of using interesting titles and the incorporation of images as attention grabbing techniques.  These are two things I will continue to incorporate into future posts.

Sue also recommend that effective workflow should be about "working smarter, not harder."  She suggested the following workflow pattern:
  •  Visit the EC&I Blog Hub
  • Select a post of interest
  • Comment on the post
  • When leaving a comment ensure that the notification option for follow-up comments has been selected
Sue also recommended the use of Flipboard as a curation tool for EC&I 831 content.  I have been a big fan of Flipboard for the past couple of years, but I had never taken the time to set-up an account and create my own magazines.  After hearing Sue speak, I created an account and began curating my own magazine content this week.

4. Focusing Too Much on Readers
The final point Sue made is that bloggers sometimes focus too much on what they think readers want to see.  She recommends that blogging should be primarily about enjoying the process.  This is something that I am starting to embrace.

Sue ended presentation by providing us with a wealth of links for effective blogging practice, and directed us towards some exemplar blogs.
Accomplishments This Week
  • Created About Me section for my blog
  • Updated and expanded my profile for Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn
  • Increased my use of images and hyperlinks in my posts
  • Continued reading, commenting, and sharing of resources
  • Chose a final project and began work toward the presentation

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Fun in the Classroom

This week I had the pleasure of helping five different middle years classrooms kick-start projects incorporating the use of technology.   It was a great week working with students from around the city.  I truly have an amazing job assignment!

Music in Me GarageBand Project

Monday I helped a teacher introduce a Music in Me project inspired by @DOREMIGIRL.  For this project each student was asked to find five songs which hold significant meaning in the student's life.  Using GarageBand, students will provide an introduction for each song, along with an explanation of why the chosen song is meaningful to them.  Students will then insert a 30 second sample of the song before moving to the next selection.  The students were quite excited about the opportunity to express themselves through the use of music.  Introducing this project at the start of the year is a good way for a teacher to learn about each student, and for students to learn about fellow classmates.  I look forward to hearing the completed projects.

Willow Awards Book Trailer Project

On Friday morning I worked with Grade 7/8 students as they began a book trailer project.   Using iMovie, students will create a book trailer for each of the books nominated for this years' Willow Awards.  Using Creative Commons and Compfight images, students will provide a narrative description for each book.  These book trailer movies will then be posted to a private Youtube Channel, and a QR code will be created for the link to the video.  The QR code will then be pasted to the inside cover of each book.
Because our school division has adopted a system-wide BYOT policy, students are allowed to use personal devices to connect to the student Wi-Fi network (with parent consent and teacher permission).  This means a student would be able to enter the library with an iPod, smartphone, or tablet, pick a book off the shelf, scan the QR code and instantly watch a book trailer for the book they are considering signing out from the library.  If successful, it would be great to expand this project to include more books and more libraries.  QR codes could also be used to provide students with a chance to try sample AR questions before taking an AR quiz. 

Personal Memoire VoiceThread Project

Friday afternoon I was asked to help two Grade 7/8 classrooms begin a personal memoire project using VoiceThread.  My use of VoiceThread has been minimal, and I have never used the Education version, so this project provided me with some great learning experiences.  The students had no prior knowledge of VoiceThread, so the introduction lesson was a good opportunity to discuss the idea of online collaboration.  It also gave us the opportunity to reinforce positive digital citizenship skills and prompted a discussion on how to comment appropriately on other students' projects.  I am always amazed at how quickly and easily students begin using a new program.  This is another project I will be closely monitoring over the upcoming weeks.

If anyone else has experience in similar projects, I would be happy for any advice or comments.