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My Journey to Education

@mmerandall

The path is leading to a wide open field

The last half of this IICT Specialist course has directed us to looking at being leaders within our schools. We have developed Technology Plans for our schools, considered how we would mentor a app wheelcolleague one-on-one and decided how we would assess our success with these initiatives. This proved a challenge for me because, while I am very eager to take on this role of a leader in Technology, I hesitate to step on any toes. I was intimidated by the idea of assessing my colleagues’ knowledge and their use of technology but I am cognizant of the fact that it needs to be done if we are to improve as teachers and as a school. As I pondered these new directions in which I was being lead, I realized that I will need to help push the boundaries past where many of my colleagues are comfortable, firmly but carefully. Therefore, as a part of our new Technology Team, I will help lead the team to build resources, establish some training through Lunch and Learns, staff meeting and PD Day presentations and, hopefully, an EdTech PD block. Using surveys, discussions and observations and maybe some mentoring, we will be able to start assessing the impact of our initiatives. I am very excited for this new venture.

For one of our assignments, we were asked to add an assessment piece to our Technology Plans which we had previously written for our school. While the idea made perfect sense, I had not considered this aspect before. The article “ An Introduction to Program Evaluation for Classroom Teachers” by Howard L. Fleischman and Laura Williams detailed how programs and initiatives need to be evaluated in assessmentorder to assess their effectiveness, to determine if they are working and, if not, how to improve or adjust them. This idea was on a stage that I had never considered being on before so I looked at it first with much trepidation. However, as I contemplated the reading, I realized that it was not really that far removed from the expectations we already have as teachers. It will be a different experience having my colleagues as the “students” that I am assessing to determine the effectiveness of our Technology plans but that strangeness will evolve as we all get used to these new roles.

As always, I enjoy very much the conversations occurring in the discussion forum. We are all very respectful as we share our ideas and ask for clarification. Everyone’s willingness to share thoughts and ideas, resources and knowledge is inspiring and extremely helpful. I have found a myriad of new sources, new ideas and new ways of thinking through these dialogues. I tend to be quite casual and informal in my style of presenting and being exposed to others who are formal, methodical, and detailed challenges me to stray from my comfort zone. I have considered using such methods to reach greater audiences as I present and teach. I enjoy reading my classmates’ assignments. It never fails to amaze me how one assignment can be interpreted in so many different ways and it is a fantastic experience to read and learn from all these different viewpoints and perspectives.

I continually look forward to learning new tools and apps to increase my repertoire. I know that I will need to investigate resources that do not apply to my subject area (Core French) so that I may suggest them to my colleagues and help them integrate these tools into their lesson planning. I know that I will need to keep learning to understand in more detailcreative commons1how things work at the school administration and Board levels and ensure that the plans I have in mind are in line with them. Personally, I need to learn to research better. It is not my forté and I need to improve this skill so that I may help teach others. I would also like a review of Creative Commons. This is another area I know that I need to understand better. It is too easy to make mistakes with copyright due to lack of knowledge or understanding.

All in all, my path has been filled with wonder and new experiences and I look forward to the last module of my academic journey though my learning will never cease.

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Reflecting at the half-way point (LE2)

1. Describe one significant idea or issue that has arisen for you as you were engaging in the topics during the Learning Experience:
A significant issue that has developed for me is the concern of being a leader and my lack of experience beyond my teaching experience. As a Core French teacher, I have added technology to my lessons that are appropriate, such as Tellagami, the use of Edmodo as a class management tool and blog, Skype video conferencing and Google Docs. My experience using tools specific to Science, Math and Special Education tools is limited if non-existent. In order to be a leader, I will need to ensure that I am more informed and that I am aware of many of these other resources, even if I do not need to use them myself.
2. Elaborate on how specific resources, ideas or experiences in the learning experience have contributed to your learning. e.g. reading material, course activities etc:
I learned much in every assignment, and in particular the task about Special Education resources. My classmates have a wide range of teaching experiences and had many suggestions for tools that would be helpful for students. In fact, I made a list that I can refer back to later of their suggestions. I had never heard of a number of the resources they suggested. However, while some of them are known to me, they are not useful for French because they work best only in English.

What was really driven home to me, also, was not the lack of tools available, but the lack of training on these resources. At this point, we do not need more money spent on tools but more money spent on training for both staff and students.

3. Share how your participation in the discussion forum has contributed to your learning and connect that to your understanding of the Standards of Practice for the Teaching Profession.
I have enjoyed the discussions that have been increasingly collegial with my classmates. As mentioned above, our group has a large breadth of experience. I have learned of many new tools, and many ways to use them due to their suggestions. I have been able to ask questions to gain further knowledge and clarify my understanding. It has been exceedingly helpful to have at least two other French teachers in the course who are even more familiar with some of the app’s than I am. This is unusual in the AQ courses I’ve taken thus far and unusual knowledge among French teachers

4. Discuss any outstanding questions and the steps you may take to further explore your interests as part of your learning in the course:
I have already begun my investigations and practises into GAFE which I feel have been successful. I would really like to learn more about Coding and Robotics but am struggling to find a way to add it into my lessons effectively. My goal, is to make a comprehensive list of app’s and tools, with brief descriptions that can be used by staff, student and parents. I feel this may help reduce the “fear” and stress that many teachers have when considering adding Technology into their lessons.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Path to a Specialist

My path to my IICT Specialist one has been a very interesting one thus far. I had a great time writing and reading our first assignment as we compared our leadership styles to a shoe! There were hiking boots, various types of running shoes, flip flops and even a pair of high heels. Common sentiments on leadership that came out were flexible, fun, professional, adaptability, open-mindedness and patience. As part 3 of this course focuses a great deal on leadership and leadership skills, this has been very much on my mind. As a Core French teacher, and someone who is not always very assertive, I wonder if I will effectively be able to don the mantle of leadership at my school. This past year, however, I have taken tentative steps and found my efforts rewarded. As I gained confidence, and my colleagues realized I had some knowledge and experience in an area that assisted their teaching efforts as well, we all started to trust me more.

As the course topics continued, we have been looking deeper into the qualities of a leader and examining school-wide initiatives such as a Technology newsletter and a presentation to our principals with suggestions and demonstrations of our leadership. I found all of this exceedingly interesting. I thought about my staff and the various levels of technology acceptance and usage and considered ways to advance that. For the first time ever, I wrote a newsletter and I like the possibilities of adding a Technology component to our school’s newsletter or maybe as a bi-monthly item. I also very much enjoyed setting up my presentation website to propose my ideas to my principal. I had so many ideas that I had trouble paring it all down. I hope to actually use it and maintain it.

My colleagues in the course are fun and knowledgeable. With an array of different subjects and levels being taught, it allows for various and interesting perspectives and ideas. It has alternately strengthened and shaken my confidence about being able to lead my school in Technology as there is just so much out there that I do not know. If we look at the The Standards of Practice for the Teaching Profession: Commitment to Students and Student Learning, Professional Practice, Leadership in Learning Communities , Ongoing Professional Learning, it is evident that we are exemplary in following these guidelines. We are committed to designing the best lessons for our students, we are ready to pass our knowledge on to others, we share what we know with one other and have fun while being professional.

Moving forward in this course, I hope to gain even more confidence in my leadership skills and abilities. As mentioned earlier, my particular concern is the vast array of information out there and my ability to assist my colleagues with ideas and subjects with which I am not familiar; i.e. How can I know to suggest Geometry Sketchpad when I have never taught math and did not know that this resource existed? I guess I’ll need to heed my own advice to teachers frightened of technology – you can’t possibly know everything and so you’ll need to research, talk to colleagues, and even students, to learn from their knowledge. “It takes a village to raise a child (and a teacher!)”   leadership word cloud IICT3

An interesting new read.

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As part of my course, we were asked to look into some professional bloggers and in so doing, I came across a blog that seemed to pluck the ideas I’ve been thinking right out of my head to discuss and expand upon.

Let me introduce you to Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach at:

http://www.21stcenturycollaborative.com/blog/

Her site is nicely laid out, engaging and interesting which was what caused me to pause in the first place. Then I started reading. In the first post I read, she discusses the disconnect we so often see between educational research and practise, the frustration of teachers with this year’s latest new thing that we are expected to integrate as we are only beginning to grasp and integrate the last greatest new thing that was introduced!

Another blog post discusses society’s obsession with innovation which, I think, may be one of the causes of the above dilemma. Let’s take student-based/problem-based/inquiry-based learning as an example. If there is a huge difference between these three types of learning, I have yet to uncover it – great ideas, similar ideas, different names (problem #1!). These theories, I fear, are almost becoming “passé” because they have been around for a few years. They are not the latest and shiniest new thing. However, it is my assertion that if we want to see real change in education, if we want to see the real results and possibilities that this method offers, it will take time to implement and a significant shift in how we teach in order to see truly effective results of these methods. My foray into this new world this year has taught me that quite clearly. It is important to note that time is needed for the students as well to make the shift to this new style of learning. We need to continue building upon what we have started with problem-based learning and see this all the way through before we attempt to introduce the next new greatest thing!

In terms of this blog, I will definitely keep reading to see how many other of my thoughts Ms. Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach has managed to read!

I found that she has also written a book entitled: “The Connected Educator: Learning and Leading in a Digital Age”. It looks like it may be worth the read so I now have another title to add to my list of books to check out.

The Connected Educator book

Sharing is caring….

As I come closer to the end of my IICT, part 2, I have come across many resources, many tools and many sites which have inspired me, challenged me and made me think about what I teach, how I teach and even more importantly, how I ask my students to show their learning. To help others in their journey, I’ve decided to share with you some sites and information I have found that might make it easier for you as you venture down your path.

*A tool – Padlet: In their own words, “Padlet is an Internet application that allows people to express their thoughts on a common topic easily. It works like an online sheet of paper where people can put any content (e.g. images, videos, documents, text) anywhere on the page, together with anyone, from any device. Think of it like a multimedia friendly, free-form, real-time wiki.”

Here is a blog which gives you tips on how to create Padlet, how you might use it in a classroom setting and offers links to other resources to keep exploring:

http://www.coolcatteacher.com/how-to-use-padlet-fantastic-tool-teaching/

https://padlet.com/to get started on your own Padlet

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*A site – Celebrate Languages: Is a site full of resources and additional links to assist language teachers finding resources, useful apps and tools, music, games and videos to engage our students in their learning.

http://celebratelanguages.com/

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*A resource – Storify: This is a social bookmarking site that allows you to save and categorize all your bookmarks in one spot. You can access your bookmarks and favourites wherever you are. It can be overwhelming to keep all your sites and research organized and this site can help.

https://storify.com/

I will endeavour to keep adding to this list of resources as time goes by. And, as I learn more about WordPress, I hope to re-arrange how I am posting these resources for you, to categorize them and make them more accessible and easier to find. Stay tuned.

Checking out new tools….

Check out my first attempt at a Piktochart. It’s on Digital Citizenship and Character Education. I love the visual aspect of it. What a fun way to present your learning, advertise something, or present some information!

https://magic.piktochart.com/output/11854997-digital-citizenship-and-character-education

Try making your own Piktochart by clicking:

http://piktochart.com/

 

Resources again….

resources tree

The resources I’ve chosen to share come from various types of on-line sites and offer further avenues to explore after reading the initial article or post.

  1. The following article discusses how one project could have totally different results depending upon how it is introduced. Project-based learning offers avenues for greater student engagement and learning that lasts a lifetime. As you further explore the website, there are many suggests for further readings and further learning.

http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational_leadership/sept10/vol68/num01/Seven_Essentials_for_Project-Based_Learning.aspx

2. Similarly, this blog from webpress challenges your ideas about learning and also propses a Project-based learning style. The writer also offers further suggestions to develop the ideas she has begun exploring in this post.

 

https://bsherry.wordpress.com/thinking-about-learning-2/project-based-learning-pbl/

3. My last suggestion is more French Teacher specific. It is a closed group on Facebook called Ontario French Teachers. The teachers on this page share resources, ideas, knowledge, personal experiences and provide a place to vent frustrations and celebrate successes. I have gained more ideas than I can possibly implement.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/corefrenchteachers/10153676927184342/?notif_t=like

PLICKERS: An engaging way to assess while you play

Interested in a way to assess students in a way that will have them having so much fun that they won’t even realize they are being assessed?

I present to you a method to do that. Use PLICKERS found at https://www.plickers.com. You can use it free of charge. You can use it for nearly all levels.

Please see the attached Prezi as a brief introduction to using this as an assessment.

You feedback is welcome and appreciated.

http://prezi.com/1zcz6u7bl0wu/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy&rc=ex0share

 

Resources, pt2

Our assignment criteria was this: locate three resources that will further your understanding and assist you in supporting the needs of all learners. Try to locate one resource that may be of use for learning about First Nations, Métis and Inuit ways of knowing and perspectives.

Here is what I found.

1. As we have been focusing on Assistive Technology, that is where I began my search.

This is an informative document by the Ontario Ministry of Education which outlines what Assistive Technology is, its benefits, how it can be used in the classroom and links to various sites that go into more detail about specific programs and how and where they aim to help the students.

2. I then focused on finding something that related specifically to my classes, Core French and I found this interesting article:

http://www.edutopia.org/technology-software-english-language-learners

Assistive Technology and Language Learning

It speaks about honing specific skills, laying the groundwork and some specific programs which can assist student learning. What I liked best, however, were the “Language in Context” and “Authentic Connections” sections. The first one discusses the idea that none of these programs can replace the social interaction of learning a language and that isolation on a computer program teaching skills out of context is not really in the best interest of the learner. The latter section discusses using discussion formats such as blogs which have proven to hone students’ writing skills and encourages them to use more sophisticated vocabulary to truly communicate their ideas with a wider audience. I am, personally, seeing this in action with the penpal project. The students want desperately to communicate well so are putting more effort into it. Those with confidence issues are taking more time to get comfortable but that is to be expected. It’s a work in progress.

3. Lastly, we were asked to find an article about First Nations, Métis and Inuit ways of knowing and perspectives.

file:///C:/Victoria%20personal/AQ%20Computers%20II/HRBAP_UN_Rights_Indig_Peoples.pdf

Human Rights; Aboriginal adolescents

This is the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples for indigenous adolescents. I found this interesting because it was written in collaboration with the young people. It is colourful and easy to read. It speaks to what we discussed in terms of school BYOD policies and actively involving those implicated in the policy. It was interesting to read what was in it and what was important to those involved. We (read “I’, at least), tend to forget about the basic rights that we benefit from and take for granted but are not a part of far too many people’s lives. In the warmth and safety of our homes, we forget the brutal realities facing too many children around the world; the poverty, the abuse, the neglect, the discrimination. This declaration made me think about these things and what I need to do to help.

If you are able to take a few minutes to clink on the links I’ve shared and would like to further discuss any of points raised, please feel free to leave me a comment. Discussion and learning is the spice of life….

 

http://files.unicef.org/policyanalysis/rights/files/HRBAP_UN_Rights_Indig_Peoples.pdf

http://files.unicef.org/policyanalysis/rights/files/HRBAP_UN_Rights_Indig_Peoples.pdf

http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/literacynumeracy/inspire/research/WW_TechnologyTools.pdf

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