All teaching, all learning

This semester, we were asked to comment on the posts of our classmates, whether it be on Twitter, the Google Community or on our blogs.

The purpose of this is help each other through the use of technology by commenting and giving our honest feedback and commentary on what our classmates were doing.

Here are just a few on the conversations I had, comments I made, and comments made on my own posts by others throughout the semester.

Blogs:

  

On Twitter:

On the Google Community:

A huge thank-you to everyone who gave feedback or made comments on my posts this semester! You all rock!!

Here is a video of all of the contributions I made to other students’ posts, featuring an unfortunate (but free!) watermark:

These conversations helped me grow as a student and educator by pushing my thinking further. I was able to do this for others as well by giving feedback and asking questions, and in a way we formed our own little Professional Learning Network. Luckily enough, the internet doesn’t end after this semester, so our PLN can continue to learn and grow together as we develop professionally.

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Summary of Learning

I  really can’t believe this semester is coming to an end. Maybe it’s the eight-week course thing, or the fact that I had a ton of fun with this class that it doesn’t really feel like this is my last post of the semester! But hey, all good things must come to an end.

Thanks to everyone who followed along with me on this journey! This semester I learned more about technology in the classroom than I thought was even possible and even more than that I learned about myself, and my own preferences in regards to classroom technology. And thanks to my amazing EDTC300 classmates who contributed to my learning by providing resources, comments and more online. You guys really are rockstar pre-service teachers!

This semester I learned about amazing resources and extensions like Google Read and Write, Screencastify, Twitter, Tweetdeck, Feedly, and I learned how to be the facilitator of these resources for students. Below is my Summary of Learning video, which I hope you all enjoy!

Thanks again everyone, it really has been a blast!

Coding the Colours of the Rainbow

For this week’s blog post we were asked to use one of the coding websites provided (Scratch, Hour of Code , Code Academy) to code a short project. I chose to use Hour of Code, which has a ton of different projects to choose from!

I decided to go for this really cool looking project called Street Artist, which runs on a coding website called Kano.

I started off with the tutorial, which was really user friendly and easy to follow along with!

I really liked the instructions at the top, because they would often say “Stop and read the code, what do you think will happen?”. They really want learners to understand why a command will do what it does. After I got to level 1, I continued on making a spray paint effect.

After I learned how to code the spray paint effect, I learned how to do it in a bunch of cool different ways, like a rainbow changing spray paint.

Finally I made it to the end and scored a sweet Street Artist Master Badge!

What I really enjoyed about the coding experience was that the instructions weren’t just there to guide learners, they were here to help learners understand coding on a deeper level by asking them questions about why certain codes will do certain things. I can absolutely see the benefit of teaching coding in schools. As technology in our world continues to advance, many more jobs are going to start appearing where coding is the focus. Coding itself is also a great way to have students think logically and carefully about each step that they’re taking, and why each step is so important!

To Tech or Not to Tech

Technology can be an engaging, efficient way to run daily activities in the school and classroom. So what happens when a teacher is reluctant to use technology because they don’t want to, are afraid to or simply don’t know how? Below is a sample conversation between Ms. D., a tech savvy teacher, and Ms. K., a teacher who is wondering about technology in the classroom.

Ms.K is a very traditional teacher. She does not care for technology use in the classroom and takes away the students devices before each class. She has never cared to learn about any of the new digital tools available for teachers and does not understand how technology can be more effective than a paper and pencil.

Ms. D is a tech-savvy teacher who loves to use technology in the classroom, believing strongly that it will benefit her students in the end to be tech literate. She is always trying to find new ways to integrate technology in her classroom, and this year decided to use Google Classroom for much of her class work.

-A conversation between Ms.K and Ms.D in the high school in which they both teach at:

Ms. K: I cannot understand why my students keep talking about your classes and how fun they are. They must not be learning anything if they are on the internet the whole time.

Ms. D: Oh Ms K., they’re just on Google Classroom. It’s a place for the class to meet online. I can post lesson material like Powerpoints and documents for them to see, and they can hand in assignments and receive feedback. Plus,I can send out reminders to them!

Ms. K: Aren’t those reminders just giving them an excuse to have their phone out in class? I make sure my students keep their phones put away during class so they aren’t distracted by things like that.

Ms. D: Well you’re right there, Ms. K., but the students are probably going to be on their phones anyway, no matter how hard we try to get them off. Why not embrace what’s already happening and use it to engage students? At least Google Classroom gives them something to do on their phone that isn’t just texting or social media, and it can help them to understand how useful technology can be for things other than those.

Ms. K: Well, I have seen Google Classroom and it does not look efficient at all. It would take me too long to add all of my content onto each class when I could just keep my Powerpoints and Word Documents. Also, if I need to remind or inform my students on anything, I can do so in class. If I used Google Classroom, I would be encouraging my students to go on their devices instead of learning the curriculum. It does not seem like a tool that would benefit me or my students.

Ms. D: Well it might take a little while for everything to upload and add, but in the end it is a great time-saver! If everything is on Google Docs, it makes it easy for students to collaborate on a project without needing to get together. And as much as we like to think we’re being heard in class, how often do students forget about important events and due dates? With Google Classroom they have access to the classroom calendar so they never have the excuse of not knowing when something is due. Plus, it has the added benefit of keeping students who may be sick or away caught up on class activities!

Ms. K: I guess that is a good point. If I would be saving time and keeping students up to date, then maybe I should try Google Classroom out. But I am a bit nervous to start using my computer, I do not know much about technology. And what about student privacy? Aren’t my students more vulnerable if their information is on the internet?

Ms. D: I can come and help you after class tomorrow and we can run through it together! There are so many neat things that you can do with Google Classroom, and plus, you are saving paper! It is also very private, so it can be a safe place for your students to learn about digital citizenship, which I can also show you tomorrow! You should read this article that I found this week about 6 reasons why Google Classroom is such a great tool for teachers!

Ms. K: Okay, that would be great. I am excited to check this new tool out! I think that my students will also be excited to hear that I am engaging in technology as well. Thanks!

 

When Trolling Becomes Bullying

Watching Monica Lewinsky’s TED Talk, I couldn’t help but think back to high school. when in I was in grade nine, an eighth-grade girl sent naked pictures to her boyfriend, who sent them to everyone he knew. She came to our school the next year, but a good majority of the school had seen her naked before she even became a student. She would be the first of so many girls I knew or had heard of that had made the same mistake, and although many would pretend it didn’t bother them, I knew how I would feel if it were me who had done the same thing. Every one of these girls was like Monica Lewinsky, nothing but fodder for an internet willing to rip anyone and everyone apart.

via Whisper

I grew up in the digital age, and I went to high school during a time where the internet and cell phones were firmly set as our means of communication. I was in tenth grade when Amanda Todd, a girl living in Port Coquitlam killed herself in her family home because of cyberbullying. I witnessed, even after her death, memes featuring Amanda’s picture, with phrases like “Make a mess of life? Drink some bleach”. My peers and I learned early on that no matter how unbearably tragic your situation might be, people on the internet will always be ruthless in their bullying on the internet.

We learned to watch what we posted, and counted the likes we got on every picture, deleting the ones that we didn’t think got “enough”. What we didn’t learn, was how to navigate all of this. From my own experience, there was no class that taught students how to interact on the internet. I do remember the terrible ads and posters put up that were supposed to help prevent us from sexting or bullying online, but this was not a proactive approach — students my age were already doing these things. We were told not to bully online,  or sext, but we weren’t taught how to build a positive online presence. And while we weren’t learning about how to defend ourselves through a positive online presence, the notion of the keyboard warrior grew more and more each day.

2WPhoto via Flickr

So as a teacher, what do I do with this? I believe it is my responsibility, and the responsibility of all teachers to educate their students not only about the repercussions of posting anything to the internet, but how to behave in the online world. It is very likely that every single one of our students will have a digital identity, and so it is up to us to ensure that they don’t make the same mistakes that our generation did.

We learned the hard way, but our students don’t have to. We won’t ever be able to stop students from having online identities, whether or not we choose to use those in the classroom. The fact is that although the internet can be devastating for some, for so many others the internet and their digital footprint are a large, positive part of their life in the form of relationships, both professional and not. Having a positive online identity can be a wonderful thing, and it is up to us to ensure that students are able to navigate the internet in a way that they can build a positive digital footprint, while avoiding the pitfalls of the internet.

 

 

Find me on the web! If you can.

What’s in a name?

My mom named me Kali, who is the Hindu goddess of time, creation, destruction and power. Combine that with my last name, Day, and the whole thing sounds pretty cool right?

Well, try and throw it into a Google search, and see what you find.

As it turns out, my name is significant in two ways, neither of which are related to me. Kali Day in Hindi directly translates to Kali Puja, a festival thrown for my namesake.

It is also the name of a holistic acupuncturist. Even the first three pages of Facebook profiles associated with my name aren’t me. Even the Twitter account that shows up on page 2 isn’t me.

But whoever she is she is really excited to “get outta here”.

As it turns out, I’m not that easy to find.

Of course though, there are always other ways of finding people. I turned the creep-scale up a notch, and tried “Kali Day Regina”

Alas, the only important Kali from Regina is Kali Christ, the Olympic speed skater. At this point in my creeping, I was starting to feel a little bit offended. So I typed in “Kali Day Regina Twitter” because I really wanted to find something that had anything to do with me.

At first I was a little dismayed, until I saw it.

Could it be? My tweets had made it in between a few search results on the first page!

So what did I find out about my online identity?

I found out that even though I may be hard to find on the internet, it can still be done by anyone who really wants to see what I’m up to. Because of this I’ve realized that it’s a good thing I’ve got my privacy settings all the way up, because you never know who could be looking for you. That is why it’s also important as teachers for us to keep all of our profiles clean and professional.

My personal Facebook is something I’m not worried about as a pre-service teacher, even if others are able to scroll through a few pages of Kali Day(s) and find my profile. If someone were to find it I have an appropriate profile picture, and they would be able to see that I am a student at the University and my workplace, but that’s all. In general, my Facebook is clean, and my privacy settings are on.

My Twitter account is professional and focuses mainly on education, and I would like to have my blog itself pop up when my name is typed in.  I’m sure I could do that through tags and things like that, however, when you have a name that means something bigger than yourself, that thing will likely always pop up first. My goal is to build an online presence large enough that my Twitter or blog end up on the first page when my name is searched, so that others can see me as a professional online.

 

 

Teaching in the Digital Age

My mom was a teenager in the 90’s, which meant that her generation were some of the first ones to experience computers in the classroom. This fostered her love for technology, and she now runs her own online business from home, relying solely on advertisements from websites like Facebook. Without social media and the culture of participation, my mom’s business wouldn’t be able to run the way that it does — based on the online participation of others.

trustedregina
My mom’s business, Trustedregina.com

In her childhood, my mom couldn’t have dreamed of running a business on the internet, but for many today it is a reality — and it works. Today, we live so much on the internet, that our whole lives can literally center around it. Just like Dr Alec Couros said in our EDTC 300 lecture, “We shape our tools, and our tools shape us”.

When I was six years old, I got my very first e-mail address. This wasn’t for correspondence or business, it was mostly so that I could sign up for Neopets and Club Penguin without having to ask my mom. I remember spending a lot of my childhood glued to the computer screen — as a child in the early 00’s, myself and my peers saw the internet grow, and grew up with it. First it was Neopets,  Whyville and (the classic!) Runescape (which I recently found out all still exist? Goodbye life!). Then came Club Penguin (RIP), Webkinz and Myspace. Now, we have Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram and now VSCO and so many others.

Social-Media-App-Icons-Grid-Ready-Influence
via pinsdaddy.com

Countless websites and downloaded games took up the majority of our childhood, and today it is no different, we just see them in the form of apps on our smartphones, the computer we can take everywhere. If this was our childhood, how must the world look to those younger than us? Dr. Alec Couros, when talking about the ‘Culture of Participation’ mentions that children today are considered to be “born digital”, that many children, babies and even unborn babies have their lives broadcast on the internet before they are old enough to decide what content they want shared.

So what does all of this mean for us as teachers?

How do we navigate the web as professionals? How do we teach our students to use the internet responsibly? These conversations are crucial as we learn about and grow with technology. It is up to us as teachers to take what we learned in our childhood about the internet and use it in a responsible and professional way, demonstrating to students how the internet can be used for good, using tools like Google Classroom, Read and Write, Seesaw, Remind and so many more.

GoogleRandW
via Leanne Petrocelli – Wix

My parents grew up without the internet, but by their early twenties knew that it was something big and life-changing for many, something you could build a life out of. For my generation, the internet has always been there. We grew up around computers and the internet and we understand fully the capabilities of the internet and many of us use it in our daily lives. So what about the next generation of students, the ones who grew up with an iPad in their hands, and knew how to play with apps before they even got to school?

It is up to us as educators to use technology in a way that the students understand its positive uses, and its negative ones. It is important for us as educators to engage students with technology so that they are prepared for the fast-paced, ever changing world of technology we now live in, but also remind them of important life skills that don’t have to do with the internet. It’s great to use OneNote to jot down ideas or play a Kahoot to keep students interested, but we can’t forget to prep our students with all the life skills that they need, not just ones they can use online.

Testing out Google Chrome’s ‘Read and Write’ Extension

This week our task was to find an app or tool that teachers might find useful in the classroom, test it out and write a review about it. I chose the Chrome extension “Read and Write”, because I had heard really positive things about it before in regards to its use in the classroom.

To start using the extension, I decided to use a tutorial so that I could really understand and get a feel for the extension. So I went back to basics, and took a trip to YouTube where I searched for “Google read and write tutorial”, and found the video below.

The extension itself has quite a few features, and all of them are easy for students to use. These include Hover Speech, Translator, Practice Reading Aloud, a text to audio player, Prediction, Dictionary, Picture Dictionary, Screenshot Reader, Audio Maker, Web Search and multiple coloured Highlighters. These are all available on the paid version of the extension, but not the three version which only features Hover Speech, Translator, Practice Reading Aloud and the text to audio player. I checked to see if there was a free trial that I could use just for the purposes of this post, and while the website does advertise a “30 Day Free Trial Option”, it just sends you back to the Chrome store, where there doesn’t seem to be the option. For that reason, I had to stick with the free version.

I decided to test out the extension on a random Wikipedia page, and found the one for Elephants. First, I tried the Hover Text feature. This feature allows the user to listen to a webpage, including headers and additional information. It will automatically play the entire webpage, but if a user hovers over text it will play what the cursor is pointing to. The option to pause and stop the speech are available, while the other features are unavailable while this one is active, until the user hits “Stop”.

The next feature to try was the text to audio feature, which allows users to highlight a section of text on a page, hit “play” and listen to the selected text. This one works the same as the Hover Text feature in that the other features are unavailable while this one is active, until the user hits “Stop”.  Both features include the option to change the voice that is speaking to the user, under “Options” and “Speech”, where the language, voice and speed can be personalized.

The next feature I tested was the translator, which works by highlighting text and clicking the “translate” button, which looks like a shuffle button. The translation box will pop up and show the translation of that word, and the language can be adjusted under “Options” and “Speech”

The final feature that I tried was the coolest, and that was the Read Aloud feature. Once you click the “read aloud” button, it takes you to a new webpage, where they have copied over the webpage you were previously looking at. In my case, this was elephants.

You then have the option on the top right to record yourself reading aloud. After you complete your recording, you can send your recording to your teacher by clicking on the paper airplane. The page will then say it is “searching” for teachers to send it to, so I am assuming that it works by connecting with Google Classroom, and the option to type in your teacher’s email address also is there.

Out of curiosity I sent myself a recording to see just what the teachers sees when receiving them, and received this:

Overall, I think that Read and Write for Google Chrome is a great extension for classroom use. Of the features that I tried, all of them were simple to use, and functioned well for their intended purposes. I really enjoyed the Read Aloud feature, and in the classroom this could easily be used to track student’s reading progress, or in the younger grades keep track of reading at home if the parents have the extension as well. I do wish I could have tried all of the features, but even if the extension was limited to the features I tried it would make a great addition to the classroom.

My Twitter Experience

This week we talked about Twitter in the classroom and as a professional development tool, and created our own professional Twitter accounts to use for the term and beyond.

Personally, I’ve never been a huge fan of Twitter. Growing up with social media meant getting your own MySpace and Facebook page at around eleven or twelve, then branching off to Twitter, Tumblr and later, Instagram. But when I made a Twitter at age thirteen I didn’t really know how to use it (other than closely watching my favourite celebrity crushes tweets)– the hashtags were confusing, and finding things that my friends were posting was harder than it was on Facebook. Thus began the Twitter cycle: every couple of years I would log into Twitter, read my embarrassing tweets, delete them all, tweet for a week, forget about Twitter and repeat. However, this past week I have been able to use Twitter for something that I never thought to use it for, personal development and connections.

The kinds of connections that you can make on Twitter I have realized, are irreplaceable. 280 characters, although twice the old limit, still isn’t quite enough to articulate thoughts in a way I’m used to, and I find myself being able to get right to the point because of that limitation. Perhaps that limit is part of what makes Twitter itself so mysterious and fun to use, but it really helps users to understand what another user is trying to articulate in a post. Straightforwardness allows people to understand better what their colleagues and peers are really thinking, giving important insight without beating around the bush. This is something I have found incredibly valuable as I learn to write my own tweets and navigate others.

The Sask Ed Chat which our class participated in was an eye-opening experience that really showed me what twitter can do. TweetDeck made everything much easier to navigate as well! The chat itself was full of varying and interesting opinions on questions I had never thought of before. I think the whole idea of a Twitter chat, while slightly overwhelming at first is a fantastic for any kind of professionals, not just teachers, to engage in meaningful dialogue together.

When I was in grade twelve French, one of our tasks was an ongoing Twitter, similar to this very project. We used Twitter to connect to French music artists and students, collaborating online and using French the whole time. Based on that experience and this one, I can really see how Twitter in the classroom can help students to connect to others who they may not normally have the opportunity to connect with. Twitter in the classroom also helps students think about what they are posting, and the purpose of each post.

A few months ago, I tried to use Twitter again, but fell into the same trap I always had. I just didn’t know how to use it or, more correctly, what to use it for. However, I am really enjoying using Twitter now that I am using it for a purpose, and I think it’s something I will use and keep up with for the foreseeable future as I continue on me pre-service and eventually, teaching journey.

 

 

 

My Feedly Experience

Today, I tried Feedly for the very first time. And while I may have been a bit confused in the beginning, I quickly learned that this resource will help me quite a bit in looking for resources related to Education and specifically, Education and Technology.

First, I tried to look at the Google Keyword Alerts, but quickly realized that it was a paid feature so I decided to stick with looking for Publications and Blogs.

The first thing I typed into the search bar was “edtech”, but unfortunately no results popped up. I tried a different approach, and typed in “Educational Technology”, and boy was I met with a LOT of results!

I followed every blog on the first page that was relevant to the topic of educational technology, because I want to be able to have a variety of different things to look at and choose from. One blog that stood out to me was “Educational Technology and Mobile Learning”, because it was the only one which specified mobile learning which I thought was interesting. The blog has several different categories, covering everything from iPad apps to 3D printing and educational blog resources. The blog itself really is a compilation of resources for teachers which I am glad I found, because I can return to it again and again.

I can see how Feedly and other RSS readers can help us educators to find resources which otherwise might be difficult to find. I’m excited to be able to use this resource to find other resources, and keep myself in the loop in terms of Ed Tech, and really whatever else sparks my interest!