collaborative


It has been a long time since I last blogged and when I checked my blog I realized that that last time I wrote on this page was in 2010! Where did the time go and what happened???? At the time I was busy in my classroom of grade fives and sixes, had many collaborative projects running and was actively using technology in my classroom. I think I got wrapped up in my little world and started to forget about the world around me.

Since my last blog post I have changed schools and changed roles within the school. Last year I moved to George Lee School and started working as a Learning Resource Teacher. My school environment is quite different. My previous school had about 100 students and was a community school with a high First Nations population. My current school has just under 400 students and has a high EAL population. I am fortunate to hear a multitude of languages and accents along with learning about many cultures. This year I have taken on the role as acting vice-principal  along with continuing to work as a Learning Resource Teacher.

I have also traveled to Kenya and Tanzania the last three summers to work with Education Beyond Borders.   

EBB Workshops in Tanzania

EBB Workshops in Tanzania

I was fortunate to work with many wonderful teachers as we shared ideas about project based and inquiry learning, differentiation, collaboration and working with professional learning clusters. During my first summer I worked in the GIlgil area about 100 kilometers northwest of Nairobi, the second year I worked in the Mount Kilimanjaro area of Tanzania along with the GIlgil area while the third year I concentrated my work with EBB in Tanzania. All of my experiences were extremely rewarding and taught me so many things about myself as a teacher, person and world citizen.

http://www.educationbeyondborders.org/photo/albums/naivasha-gilgil-2011

I am starting to feel the need to re-connect to my professional colleagues that I have worked with around the world through blogging and twitter. As well, I am considering planning some collaborative learning projects for students this year. With the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi it might be time to start planning on project for that.

It’s good to be back and I’m looking forward to reading blog posts, tweets and articles from my many colleagues around the world.

I love the information, links and ideas I get my Twitter network. The thoughts of other educators are often provoking and make me think about my teaching. This morning I was checking my TweetDeck and checked out the Curriculum 21 ning site. ‘Langwitches’ had posted a new quote.

Curriculum 21 Quotes

Curriculum 21 is a new ning site for me but I liked the tag line on their site “Mapping the Global Classroom of the Future.” I’ll have to look around the site more but I may have to join this new network and make some connections.

nichcy.org

Great new video from New Brunswick, Canada!

I’m at the end of another grad class and with this class it’s the end of my Master’s program. I’ve enjoyed the challenges, research and discussions associated with all of my classes. I’ve had to read articles with words I didn’t understand and had to read with a dictionary on one side of me. I’ve read articles that confirmed ideas I had about teaching and I’ve read articles that made me question some of my teaching practices. With every class I’ve learned about myself, my colleagues and developed my philosophy of teaching.

For my last class my instructor has posted questions for us to think about and reflect on. At the beginning of the class we had to think about where we were on our learning curve but the funny part is every time I embrace a new experience I’m right back to the bottom of the curve.

What new understandings of the role of educational technology to support learning have you gained, acted on or perhaps strengthened?

I’ve been searching for articles, websites and blog posts that describe the integration of technology in subject areas. I’m looking for exemplars, case studies and information about the impact technology integration has on both the student and the teacher. I’ve been scouring state and provincial education sites to look for guidance on what other groups are preparing for their teachers as the teachers tackle the ISTE standards for themselves and the students. I’ve been reading information on the State of Florida’s education site, looking at the Province of Manitoba’s Curriculum Navigator and checking out the Galileo site. I want to be able to ‘show’ teachers what technology integration looks like.

Technology in Our Class.

What has had the most influence on your horizon of understanding?

My network continues to have the most influence on me. My network has expanded once again through the use of digital technology in this grad class. I’ve connected with more teachers in Regina Public Schools, I’ve chatted with teachers around the province through email and comments regarding the challenged they are facing in their schools and I’ve received great feedback on my blog posts. The network that I’ve already been working with provides with links and blogs to provoke thinking, my network offers me support and my networks expands my knowledge. When I’m lacking an understanding about a concept or theory I can approach my network, ask a question and receive information through blog comments, emails or Twitter posts. My belief in George Siemen’s Connectivity Theory is demonstrated by the support from my Web network.
What new questions have emerged for you?

There are questions that I continue to think about. What is stopping teachers from integrating technology? How can I convince teachers that technology integration isn’t difficult? But as to new questions I’m thinking about how Regina Public Schools can create technology integration , resource pages along  with links to outcomes and indicators that will allow teachers to integrate technology into their everyday teaching. I wonder how I can make a difference and help teachers overcome whatever barrier is stopping them to integrate technology into lessons. I often think where our school division will be in five years or ten years and what changes will occur.

Digital World.

I’ve been watching Henry Jenkins video on Edutopia.  Big Thinkers: Henry Jenkins on New Media and Implications for Learning and Teaching | Edutopia.  He believes that students and teachers are being hampered by schools due to filtering and sites being blocked. The access to technology is being restricted by school IT departments who are not the people actually using the technology. I’m starting to see this trend in my own school division. I know that the internet has more filters and restrictions in the high schools in my school division and right now there are very few sites filtered in the elementary schools. This means that my students and I can access information, videos and web tools whenever we want to. Yes, occasionally a student goes on a site I don’t want them to go on but that becomes a teaching opportunity when I talk about digital responsibility. Jenkins also states that teachers and districts need to recognize that there is a lot of learning going outside of schools. He believes that educators need to value this learning and incorporate it into our teaching. If we give students to discuss and share what they are learning beyond our four walls we open up our classrooms to rich sharing and discussion opportunities.

Jenkins states that it is time to get rid of the roles of digital natives and digital immigrant.  I’ve often thought that those terms were over used and not always correct. There needs to be a shift that we work and learn together particularly in a culture of connectiveness and sharing. Jenkins also believes that we need to move away from the autonomous model of learning and move to a collaborative culture of students and teachers being partners in education. To accomplish this teachers need to be connected and build a supportive and social network to support the work they want to do in their classrooms. I believe that if teachers are connected we are more apt to connect our students to enrich their learning.

Jenkins suggests we need to make a paradigm shift in our teaching to give students the skills they need to work in the new media landscape: play, performance, judgement, networking, negotiation, collective intelligence and appropriation. These are collaborative skills that translate into all subject areas and into students lives beyond school. The bottom line is that students won’t remember a lot of the subject content that we teach them but they will carry they skills we teach them far beyond us.

Jenkins poses some interesting discussion questions which makes me consider the roles of teachers, technology and schools in teaching students for the future.

1. How are schools limiting kids’ access to digital tools? Do you agree with these policies?

2. Do you see the participation gap in your school and community?

3. How do we create shared learning opportunities across generations?

4. Are schools ready to give up control to kids, families, and communities of learning? What are the opportunities and challenges?

5. What does authorship mean in the digital age? How do we teach it to kids?

Big Thinkers: Henry Jenkins on New Media and Implications for Learning and Teaching | Edutopia.

I finished reading Will Richardson’s article “Footprints in the Digital Age” this morning and I thought about my footprint then about my students. So in the spirit of Block 5 I thought about I could use digital tools to represent my learning. I decided to create an Animoto movie with the ideas from Will’s article. I love using Animoto for my own projects and it’s a great alternative to iMovie for my students to use. The tricky part is that I’m having a tough time embedding it on this wordpress blog. I’ve tried exporting it directly but wordpress is not recognizing my password when I export from Animoto. I downloaded the movie to my desktop but because I don’t have Quicktime Pro I couldn’t export or upload it to my blog post. So I’m on attempt number three. I’m uploading the Animoto movie to YouTube then I will get the html link from Youtube to insert in this post. You’ll know if you see the movie that it worked. This exercise reinforces the concept to me that we don’t have to be technology experts but we must be willing to learn with our students, experiment, experience technological defeat and be ready to try again.

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