Tag Archives: technology

Kindergarten: The Noise in the Background

A few weeks ago, I had the chance to work in a kindergarten class at Ridgeview Public School. Unlike other grades, there are a lot of different activities going on in kinder at the same time and I would like to capture them not just with still pictures but the conversations that take place when their talking out loud their creative minds.

What fascinates me more upon hearing these captured talks are the noise in the background. I played the video over and over to listen closely to what’s happening beyond what the lens can cover. I knew what exactly took place to the little ones that I was speaking with but there were more speakers around that were talking meaningfully at the same time.

 

 

Until now, I still find myself watching and listening to these videos and wonder. And yes, kindergarten is very busy.

Hats off to all the educators out there who make learning so much fun and meaningful for these young minds during their first years in school. How do you capture all these moments?

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Tips and Tricks of Using Seesaw From Our #SeesawChat

#SeesawChat: 12th May 2016

“There are so many new things out there about what technology and how to use it in the classroom. I am not really comfortable using it.” This is a common statement among educators who are not comfortable infusing technology into the classroom. Very true. It can really be overwhelming. If I ask a couple of teachers, they will come up with at least 5 different apps they use in class.

This is what I tell them, “I am quite comfortable using technology in the classroom but will never catch up with every new tool out there. I remind myself, use one as it fits.”

Here’s one that caught my attention last summer and was able to delve into it more a few days ago by taking the training to be a Seesaw Ambassador.

My first #SeesawChat with fellow educators brought saw many ideas that I would like to share in this post. Both teachers and students are capturing and documenting the learning that takes place in school.

Spelling via Mrs. St. John’s Class

Capturing progress on IEP Goals via Heather Gauck

Genius Hour via Miss Zeisler

Reader’s Response via Jess Ische

Math via Miss Elikwu

Assessment via Traci Piltz

Text Features via Joni Quintavalle

Math via myself courtesy of Mrs. S MathTechLearnCentre class

Health via Traci Wood

Oral Reporting via Jennifer Sanders

Interactive QR Code via Emily Corrigan

Retelling via Miss Knutson’s Class

Word Connections via Mrs. Gadtke

Science via Ryan Wiggins

Expect more collections on how to enhance students learning through the use of Seesaw and other apps as I continue to explore this digital road.

At one point, I read a line that somehow goes like this, “If you’re doing something great that no one knows, then, there’s not much greatness in what you’re doing.” Share the love. Feel free to add to this list below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DPA: Daily Physical Activity

A slice of exercise for the Slice of Life Story Challenge: Day 29.

Often times, I feel guilty having students sitting for the longest time because they need to finish an assigned task. Meanwhile, as a teacher, I like to move around. When attending workshops, I need to have some caffeine boost especially if it’s happening after work and I know I will be sitting down for a minimum of 2 hours.

Kids are the same way. They want to move around. Some of them need more space than others. One or two would need that extra room on the carpet when the whole class is there. I had one student who would be moving from one spot to another during this time but he’s all attentive to what’s happening. As a whole class, we learned that it’s what he needed. We gave that to him.

Four years ago, I made a compilation of dance songs in a CD. Of course, one of them was Cha Cha Slide. Now, there are more resources that are available for us to use in our classroom. As long as we have the internet connection, they are available for use anytime. They are more up-to-date too. Here are the links that I use that the kids love.

I am getting better at allowing frequent breaks in the classroom reminding myself that exercise is good for the heart as well as the mind.

 

A Game of Pick-up Sticks

A slice of pick-up sticks for the Slice of Life Story Challenge: Day 28.

One of the kids prizes that were given yesterday during our Easter celebration was a set of “old school games” in one box: pick-up sticks, dominoes and jacks.

The one that these three boys chose to play was Pick-up Sticks. These boys are 18, 15 and 11 years of age. They had no clue how to play the game and didn’t even know what it’s called until they looked into that small piece of paper called instruction.

At an early age, they’re very much exposed to playing games online. They can figure out the mechanics of these games easily. Their interaction to players is not limited to physical presence but rather open to a global community.

But I would like to strike a balance. Touching what you’re actually playing with, winning the battle face-to-face, and an actual human interaction in this digitally connected world are also essential and one of the basic needs of people.

I wonder how many households have these games still. Or how many families spend time together playing them.

When students ask me if they can play a board game whenever there’s time, my answer is always yes. I will not stop them from learning something new but will also give them a taste of both worlds: appreciation of the old.

 

Homework: To Do or Not To Do, That is the Question

Hannah just graduated high school and going to be in university this September. I looked after her when she was 2 months old and was there until she’s 12. If not with the homework she did independently or with some help when she started school, I would not be able to give her some practice tests that prepared her for some skills she will be needing in life.

This post may sound more of like Dear Diary.

A. Howework. Divide.

A few days ago, I got myself involved into a (tweet)chat about homework that really made me reflect on this century old way of learning. I am a product of it and proudly, will say it out loud.

With the digitally connected environment we are getting used to that brings us to a vast amount of resources to better our teaching, as educators, we have been really thoughtful of how we teach. Growing up with no internet, but having pen and paper, textbooks and notebooks for every single subject, and a typewriter on hand, were what my childhood looked like. If I consider how I view homework today, it will be a homework overload. But, it was the norm back then. No question ask. My parents would not question my teachers if I have to sit for an hour or so to finish it. Get it done. Period.

As a teacher in the elementary level, I am not going to do the same. I am more conscientious, more reflective, more considerate and connected. There’s a shift in the way I teach, the environment in my classroom, the way I deliver the curriculum,  and the kind of homework that I give.

It’s a working family these days. That’s the norm. Parents are doing an 8 to 5 job or shift work to make ends meet and provide a better life to their children. Sometimes, I question the statement, “Technology makes our life easier.” Does it, really? How come we still say, we live a busy life?

I only had my students for 2.5 hours a day and they had to go to French class in the afternoon. That time was without rotary subjects like Music, Drama and Physical Education. I wanted my students to take the learning outside school hours.

For me, homework will do that but in a different context. Last school year, when I came on board after a month of school had started, my Grade 2’s were already doing Spelling: Words of the Week (8 words a week) as homework. Spelling folder was handed out on a Monday and returned on Thursday. It consisted of 9 activities varying from bubble letters, definition, sentence usage etc. The last few months of school, I gave them the option of doing it on our class blog, http://kidblog.org/class/miss-manahans-class/posts, or on paper. A small number of students did 3 or less activities because that’s what they could only handle. And that’s okay.

Most students developed the independence over time through repeated practice. Their work was handed in before Thursday or done online right away. They would tell me that they’re already done with their homework because they know how to do it on their own. Some would say that their mom, dad or sibling help them out with one activity or two. Some would ask me, “Did you see my spelling on our blog?, with excitement in their eyes. There’s always one or two that would not get it done and when asked, they’d say, “I forgot… We didn’t have the time because… I was in my dad’s house over the weekend…” These are the realities of life.

In my heart, I understand why things don’t get done in time. They happen to me all the time. But as their teacher, I also need to teach them a sense of responsibility at an early age, not in a form of punishment but encouragement. Repeatedly and it gets tiring at times (with all honesty), I say

  • Let me know if you need extra time and need help (parents wrote notes for me to explain it again to their child because they didn’t know how to support their child).
  • You can use the dictionary here at school if you don’t have one at home.
  • Do 3 activities of your choice.

On a Friday, they got 2 worksheets to work on over the weekend. One on math and the other one was for Language. At the beginning, they were the old school, typical homework worksheets. Slowly, as I get more connected, the assigned homework became more flexible and reflected individual learning. Open-ended math problems and more real life connections were given. We also use our class blog when possible.

The homework given was not a new lesson. It’s what was discussed and shared in class. Out of 31 students, only a few needed help. The rest can do them independently. Some were not able to do them all the time because of internet accessibility and the environment at home.

Before the end of the school year, I can tell who have developed good study habits, a sense of responsibility and ownership of their learning. The homework stayed. What were changed? The type of homework and the tool on how it was done. A student went to China for a vacation and was very worried about missing the spelling lists and other lessons. I told him that I would post it on our blog for him to see and he can do it if he finds the time.

Alice Keeler,  Mark Barnes and John R. Walkup have strong views about homework. They challenged my views, beliefs and thinking.

Moving forward, after doing some reflective thinking, homework is staying. It will not be how it was given to me. It will be more flexible, open, beyond worksheets that will produce the same answers, and challenge their thinking. I need to strike a balance.

At an early age, a little bit of structure is needed to develop good study habits. In my case, the old school type of homework was given because of limited access to resources and teachers connectivity but I looked back and somehow, one way or the other, it contributed to the skills that I am using today: to persevere, more responsible and how to manage time.

My self-reflection on this topic cannot be done in 140 characters. What’s yours?

Parents as Stakeholders

Let’s build the fire together.

It’s summer and I am trying to catch up with the self-directed PD learning that’s taking place here in Twitter, and with my PLN that keeps on growing. The other night, I was able to catch up on #EdTechBridge chat. It’s my first. Their topic, “Parents as EdTech Stakeholders,” caught my attention as I was scrolling down my feed.

When I had my Gr. 2’s last year and introduced a class blog, http://kidblog.org/class/miss-manahans-class/posts, I received different reactions from parents. Some loved the idea because it gave their child the enthusiasm to read and write without being told. Others felt that it increased the screen time at home when they were trying to limit it.

As their teacher, it opened the door for my students to own their learning and extend it outside the classroom.

These were the conversations that struck me and will help me to get the parents on board moving forward. Even up to this point, three months after that meeting with a parent that was concern about the screen time still resonates in my head.

It is an open door policy in my classroom. I invited a parent to come in the classroom to see what takes place during the instructional time. This way, the parent will get a clear picture and understanding on how to support the child at home in order to be successful at school and in life. At the end of the period, the parent knew how the child was performing individually, with a partner and with a group. During the last assembly at school, the parent came to me and said, “Thank you so much for helping my child. You’ve done everything you could. It’s my turn to do the same over the summer.” That hour long made a difference.

Make them be a part of the change. This is something that I need to improve on next time. If I can get my students to dive head in first with the use of technology, the parents have to be on the sidelines to see it happening and on the go.  We need to convince them about its value in education. We need to earn their trust that it is essential for the young generation to be prepared for their future.

My takeaway after I jumped in the #EdTechBridge chat, let’s not forget to inform and educate the parents on where the education is heading to. They need to have a clear vision of how and why we need to integrate technology in our teaching and in their child’s learning. Yes, we do know and understand it because that’s what we do. Our parents came from all walks of life, from different cultures and generations. We always tell our students to be inclusive. Isn’t it time for us to tell ourselves to be inclusive of parents and say “No Parent Should Be Left Behind in this Journey?”

What Keep You Connected?

How long have you had your Twitter account? How many tweets have you done? 200+ tweets? 2000+ tweets? 20k tweets?

I’ve had mine since March of 2012 and yet, it was only last year that I actually discovered the #powerofatweet. It was hit and miss for me before then.

In everything we do, we need to find reasons to justify our willingness to take risks. We need to get inspired. We need to understand the power this change is going to bring. It’s never easy to leave our comfort zones. We need to find people to inspire us to begin a new journey or continue what we have started. I was only aiming for one tweet a day but for the past few months, I am well beyond that number.

My well beyond one-tweet-a-day was inspired by Aviva Dunsiger and Jonathan So because of what they do in the classroom. I saw them every day on my feed. That pushed me to share what we were doing in school as well. Whenever I could, I tried to tweet it during the instructional time as opposed to after a few days or so. This way, it gives people a virtual window on what is happening in our classroom, in real time.

The bar is raised high. I’ve also joined different chats before the crack of dawn or after the sun sets that I came across with as I scroll down my feed or encouragement by Jason Wigmore. Chats such as #peel21st, #aussieED, #asiaED, #nt2T, #txeduchat, #satchat#sunchat, and #tptchat are the ones that I made a lot of or started contact, learning and collaboration with.

This time, I am not only sharing what is happening in the classroom or at school, but also, tweeting personal interests that one or some people may be interested as well.

Interacting with my PLN (Personal Learning Network) hasn’t only led me to professional learning but also some good laughs shared with Aviva Dunsiger and Brian Woodland with his tools and cooking.

The web is an infinite source of information. Twitter has led me to good reads that I would never knew existed. Because of the limited characters that it allows me to use for every post, I become more conscious on how I am going to send the message across.

With 1000+ tweets, I am still a beginner. Steadily, I am finding my way. Yes, I do get frustrated when things do not work the way they should be. But they bring out the better in me because of my willingness to learn, unlearn and relearn and this is a work in progress.

 “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” -Alvin Toffler

Truly, it can be very overwhelming. As educators, our plate becomes full of apps, websites and devices before we know it. When this happens, it is time for us to sift it through. Personally choose what will work as a start. Begin with one or two. Get yourself familiarized and make yourself comfortable using it. Learn as you go along. Unlearn what doesn’t work. Relearn new things.

Now, I am taking the next step, blogging (with a clear purpose), as I am getting myself at ease with tweeting. This is my 5th. If we find real meaning in what we do, we will find a way to educate ourselves with the changes happening around us. This time, I find more meaning to be a connected educator.

For me to continue to take this path, I need to know and understand why I am doing it. Having a great list of PLN will keep me going because I know myself, without encouragement and a little nudge every now and then, I may stay where I am rather than continue to move forward.

One of the many words of encouragement from Brian Aspinall is a great reminder for me to keep on going.

You may be on a summer or school break like me or starting a new school year, and with our own busy lives professionally and personally that we have to attend to, what get you started and keeping you connected?