Here is my finished Summary of Learning Project! It was a lot more work than anticipated, but I only ran into a couple of hiccups in the process! I used Adobe Spark, and I really liked the simplistic layout and the ease to record. My laptop mic wasn’t working the greatest, which causes a lot of re-records so it was nice to be able to do it over and over again until I was satisfied with the slide! The only thing I didn’t like was that I couldn’t place a lot of imagery on the slides unless I created the images myself. The download speed took awhile but that could have easily been my connection. Anyways, here it is!
Enjoy my video and I’ll see you all on Tuesday! 🙂
I decided to take a closer look at Formative and I was impressed. Going in, I wasn’t exactly sure what it was, but it is very similar to Socrative. It is a formative assessment tool for teachers to help track data, give quick assessments, get real-time results and track student growth. It can be used for any subject, and there are a variety of different types of questions you can create. This was my favourite part!! So many times, teachers are limited to multiple choice for online assessments and this tool really pushes the
boundaries for what is offered. You can create questions as well as upload existing documents, PDFs, or questions you’ve already made (no reinventing the wheel here!). I think the thing I like most about this tool is that you can track and see the student data live. There is a video that explains the process very well, and you can even give students hints, and give them feedback as they are working. There is a ton of potential using Formative and the best part….it syncs with Google Classroom!!!! I’ve been really thinking about moving from a paper and pencil classroom, to a more online and paperless environment, and I think this tool may help me get there. I have also struggled with getting students to buy into my Google Classroom. I post all notes, assignments, and due dates/exam dates on it, but I can’t get EVERY student on it. They reject it or are too lazy to figure out how to access it and I think this tool would help me get the rest of them on board. They will need their log-ins and if the two systems are linked then I am set!
Continuing, I think this is a great tool for teachers to use in the classroom because you can see real data, in real time! It is quick to make, easy to integrate (as most students now have a device) and students don’t even NEED a log in; just a code for your assessment. If you’re feeling brave and want to give my Calculus problem, a try here is the link and the code is: LSPPBN. I think it would be an effective entrance/exit slip assessment that I would be able to assign as homework or get students to do on their way out the door. It’s flexible and provides many different opportunities for learning, and answering. There is even Math Tools available!! It even could have the potential to link to the outcomes of our curriculum, as it is already linked to Alberta’s.
One thing I didn’t like was that I could assign math problems…but getting students to write out and show their work on a screen would be difficult as many of them would rather just do it on paper and I agree with them. Showing their work on a screen is tedious and unnecessary, and unless it is a quick question, students would not benefit from the technology (so multiple choice is my limit in most cases). I also loved that I would be able to see my students’ responses in real time,
BUT what time? When am I ever sitting at a computer or in from of a screen while my students are working? Or working on phones? It is a great asset to the tool, but not beneficial to me, as I would almost never be just sitting at my computer watching their progress on a screen. It would be nice! But it is unrealistic for me. Does anyone think it would benefit them more?
The potential is great for short assessments where teachers are checking for understanding before, during or after a lesson. In math, it is limited, and it all depends on the types of questions the teacher has in mind to ask. Some things are better left for pen and paper, while others could definitely be used by Formative. In class, we discussed Kahoot and I love it, but it makes everything and every question a competition. This tool is the same, but takes away the competition and puts the focus on learning the content. I like that! Again, this is a tool used for formative assessment so it would make sense that full length exams should not be created in this format. It’s possible, but then as a teacher, you need to be specific on expectations and guidelines for pulling up other resources while working. There is a lot of monitoring that would be necessary for this to work properly, but I think with enough practice and patience, this tool could be a huge asset to a classroom.
What do you guys think? Would you use this tool in your classrooms or have you? What kind of questions would you ask? Are the specific subjects you would use it with or have?
I have to confess that I don’t think I’ve really shared to my best capability as a young, millennial could. I have all the knowledge, and the tools and yet I don’t feel like my lessons or ideas are valuable enough to share or for someone else to use in the online world. This is funny, because I don’t hesitate to hand over lesson plans, ideas, binders, or
USB sticks of information to fellow teachers in my building. If there is ever a need, I oblige and give any of my colleagues what they need, in hopes that one day the favour will be returned if I ever need it. In my short 5 year career, I’ve taught a whopping 18 different curriculums at a high school level. I know, in my earlier years, teachers handed me lots of resources and now it’s my turn to help some young, stressed out teacher play the part. In Sharing: The Moral Imperative, Dean Shareski talks about how it is our responsibility to share these resources not just with our colleagues in the building, but with the world and I totally agree. I think that main reason I haven’t, is because I’ve never actually thought about it! I should. I’ve had many compliments on my plans and curriculum. I’ve made a bunch of “original” projects that would and could be useful to many teachers, especially in Saskatchewan.
We discussed in class one night about who owns our lesson plans? Us? Or the division? In some cases, it is the division, but I know in Prairie South, sharing is encouraged and I don’t think I would ever be reprimanded for sharing resources online via Twitter or my blog. I think my personal barriers is thinking that my work will not be of benefit to others, even though I’m sure this is not the case. As Dani stated in her vlog, she didn’t think her post would be noticed even though she should have known better. I feel the same way. I think I get caught up in the idea that the internet is SO big, how would my tiny footprint, make a difference. I also think I haven’t shared online because in my busy day, posting an assignment or idea to Twitter seems irrelevant and like more work sometimes. It’s super quick and easy, but it’s just not something I consciously think about on a day-to-day basis.
The benefits to sharing work and collaborating online are incredible! Dean discusses a few examples in his video and the one that stood out to me the most was Dan Meyer’s Math Stories. He put over 18 hours of work into one lesson. ONE. And he felt validated by it because he shared it and had over 6, 000 people download and use it within a couple of weeks. I think as educators, we get stuck in our bubble and in reality, there is SO much information out there that can help ease the stress and pressure on teachers to be innovative. If teachers learn how to use the information, filter through resources and had time to collaborate together, I think there would be a lot more sharing going on. Teachers need some professional development and education geared toward how to share, why it’s so important, and the benefits that can ensue. I think that the younger generation of teachers is a lot more equipped to help this movement become a reality, however I think there needs to be support by divisions and maybe even time in a day, week, or month to collaborate with others in their buildings to help develop a sharing network for teachers. The movement needs to begin small, and with an implementation like that, I think it would be possible to create a culture of collaboration.
Sharing students work is another story. I think it is great to get their ideas out there and
amazing things can happen. Students can learn more authentically and understand how to navigate social networking sites and be able to filter through information. I’m starting a project with my ELA B30 class as we begin Hamlet. In the past, I’ve struggled to make it authentic and get them to really buy in. I created an assignment after browsing a few websites on making Hamlet relevant. I decided to use social media to help them relate to the characters (with some motivation from this class). I want them engaged so I’ve decided to get them to create character profiles for the whole play. They have the option of doing it alone or in groups and they have the option to interact with each other online as characters or as an omnipresent narrator. Here’s the link to the assignment (also my first attempt at sharing my work online): http://bit.ly/2AYEYJO. I’m pretty proud of this assignment already and I think the students are already engaged with it as I had two new Instagram followers (Hamlet characters) yesterday immediately following me handing it out! I will keep you posted as we progress through the play and I hope to actually share some of their posts if they are good! Of course, I’d love to know what you think of the assignment? Maybe a fellow Senior English teacher like Kelsie could chime in? Anything I could tweak? And what do you think would get teachers more involved in openly sharing resources online?
This week, we were charged with the task of evaluating an OER (open education resource) and I chose the American Institute of Mathematics since I have been teaching Calculus for the first time this year! I wanted to check it out and see if there are any resources or lessons that could help me on my way to building my curriculum. I was slightly disappointed by what I found. To begin, the homepage is wordy and heavy texted. There are limited pictures and seems more like a mathematician’s website than a teacher resource (which is what I was hoping for)!
I did watch a pretty cool video about how mathematicians are working with strawberry farmers to create an optimal profit which could be used to supplement a lesson of sorts, but there weren’t really any teacher resources on the homepage.
I began checking out some of the other pages and links and although easy to navigate, there aren’t a lot of resources for middle years or high school students. There is a whole page dedicated to Workshops and a Problems List, however the problems are far above my students’ head as well as my own. It’s definitely a well-organized site but more for a higher level of education than what I currently teach, and as I moved on, I found what I was looking for: the Online Textbook Initiative!
Our Calculus textbook was brand new when I was in high school (8 years ago) and it is STILL being used. A new resource would be awesome for my students so I checked them out and was pleasantly surprised. There is an evaluation criteria and it even gives information about the textbook: exercises, solutions, etc. There is a plethora of textbooks to choose from for a variety of different courses and material and although I didn’t look at every one, they do seem to be of high-quality and focused on university course material. This is again, above my level of teaching but might be a good place to check out for my AP course next semester!
So although it is a high-quality website with a TON of resources, workshops, and problems, it is mainly a university website which is too bad because I was really excited to find some new resources for my students. I’m sure if I weed through some of it enough, I’ll be able to some examples, and problems for my students to use. But, I was disappointed in the text heavy layout of the website and pages as it makes it much more difficult to read and decipher. The language is definitely for those who understand mathematics and teach it at a much higher level than me. For high school or lower, it would not be very user friendly if you do not “get” the math language! I’m sure it would be a useful website for mathematicians, and university students, especially in terms of finding some free textbooks to use instead of paying the big bucks for them!
Open Education is defined as “education without academic admission requirements and is typically offered online. [It] broadens access to the learning and training traditionally offered through formal education systems” (Wikipedia, 2017). After watching the videos this week, I’m all for open education and honestly, I think I always have been – I just don’t think I knew it had a real definition or official term. If I think back to my university days, I was all over Google looking for math help to make it through those tough math courses and I found a lot of help in websites like Khan Academy and Wolfram Alpha. They were necessary resources for me to survive these courses, as well as help from fellow classmates.
As I moved into my teaching career, it is very rare I make a lesson or project from scratch. In university, the famous Rick Seaman told us “Teaching is Stealing” and I still believe that to this day. There is no need to reinvent the wheel if there are perfectly good resources online, or in another teacher’s hands. I have taken from the web, from websites like Teachers Pay Teachers, and used videos from Khan Academy as well as my new favourite resource, Desmos. For those of you who don’t know what Desmos is, it’s a FREE online graphing calculator app. No longer do you need to pay obscene amounts of money for graphing calculators and even better, it’s in colour. There is also a plethora of teacher-made lesson plans and graphing calculator activities on this app which anyone can access. I have yet to figure out how to make these activities, but until I do, there are plenty activities there that I can tweak and use for my students.
But back to my point on “Teaching is Stealing;” I think teachers should live by this rule.
As a beginning teacher, I have survived my first few years by asking other teachers for resources for courses they have taught, and in return, I pass on my resources to other teachers new to the career or a course I have taught. I believe the teaching community motto should be “pay it forward” always! I can’t tell you how many teachers have asked me for resources and I gladly help however I can, because when I need resources for a new course, there will always be another willing teacher to help me out. This is where I feel the “Everything is a Remix” theory fits directly into education (and I need to say, this video series was so interesting and informative; my mind was blown many times while watching). The main purpose of the video series was to break down the barriers of original concepts and make people realize that everything is indeed a remix, even subconsciously. Everything ever invented, has concepts from other places integrated into it, in order to create the completed puzzle. Teaching is the same way. Original ideas are awesome, but in a demanding career, why not remix a resource you find online or from a fellow colleague, instead of spending hours reinventing the wheel only to find someone has already done it?
Copyrights. According to Kirby Ferguson, “the belief in intellectual property has grown so dominant, it’s pushed the original intent of copyrights and patents out of the public consciousness” (Everything is a Remix, Part 4). In 1790, the original Copyright Act was intended for the “act for the encouragement of learning” and the Patent Act was to “promote the progress of useful arts.” We have gone so far beyond this, and as humans, we have become selfish. We are fine with copying Ferguson says, as long as what is being copied is not our own. There are constant lawsuits over this idea and as teachers, we do need to be aware of the consequences of copying resources online, if there is a copyright infringement.
From Everthing is a Remix Part 4
The idea of open education as a teacher is great, because it gives a plethora of resources that we can freely access without the worry of our school budgets. However, we do need to be aware of where we “steal” things from. The idea of the Copyright and Patent Acts was to “better the lives of everyone by incentivising creativity and producing a rich public domain.” (Everything is a Remix, Part 4). We depend too much on paying for resources, and not enough time taking risks. The idea is to beat the big companies forcing us to pay too much for ideas that should be for the greater good, our students, as Lawrence Lessig discussed in his Ted Talk, Laws that Choke Creativity when comparing the ideas of BMI’s victory over ASCAP in the music industry. So, we need to get back to this idea of sharing before it is too late for our society and we all become too selfish and stuck in the idea of personal wealth over common good.
This week, we discussed social activism online and whether or not it can be effective. Is it worthwhile? I think it is possible for it to be worthwhile and meaningful if the people that are advocating for the cause are invested beyond just social media. We discussed in class the idea of slackivism. Wikipedia explains this to be the concept that people believe that are contributing to a cause by simply re-tweeting, sharing or liking a page. However, sharing or liking something on Facebook, although a great way to create more acknowledgement towards a specific issue, does not solve the issue. It is a way to share information and give people who actually WANT to create change, a medium to do so.
One excellent example I found was Wael Ghonim: a social activist who used social media to help create the revolution in Egypt in 2011. Essentially the movement began with the death of Khaled Said, and a picture that was posted and shared relentlessly on social media. This sparked interest and Ghonim created a Facebook page to support this outrage. He gathered hundreds of thousands of followers; then realized, it wasn’t enough to just gather online. They needed to do something. He asked his users an important question: “Today is the 14th of January. The 25th of January is Police Day. It’s a national holiday. If 100,000 of us take to the streets of Cairo, no one is going to stop us. I wonder if we could do it.” (TED, 2015) And they did it. The video goes on to explain the aftermath and the revolution we know today. I think it is awe-inspiring that something so life-changing began on social media and with one picture.
As educators, I think we do have a responsibility to model active citizenship online, but it can be difficult. As teachers, we are on the radar all the time. Anything we say online can be traced, twisted, or interpreted the wrong way and it can affect us, personally and professionally. The challenge then becomes to advocate professionally and ask ourselves questions before interacting online:
“How will this be viewed by people who do not know me?”
“How will this be viewed by people that do know me?”
“Would I be okay if my students saw this?”
“Would I be okay if my colleagues/family saw this?”
Although, it is unfortunate we cannot be as uncensored as other people can be online, are these not questions we consider before speaking out loud? Why should what we discuss online be different than what we talk about in our classrooms or in our day-to-day lives? And shouldn’t all people really abide by these “unwritten rules”? We are taught from a young age to be kind, to listen to other’s opinions, to think before we speak, so why is it that as soon as we are hidden behind a screen and a keyboard that we forget these guidelines apply and become trolls, argumentative or outright rude? I think the most important thing is that we model our personal beliefs and values and model the
ideologies that we would be okay with our students, our friends, and our families seeing and modeling too! After all, that is our job and yes, sometimes it is hard to remain in this mindset in the heat of the moment, but these rules apply to the real world, why shouldn’t they apply to the online one too?
In today’s day and age, you can’t go a day without hearing some new rumour or supposed news story. Even real news stories can have a twist of fake-ness to them. So how does one educate the citizens of tomorrow how to distinguish between real and fake? Students are bombarded with advertisements, viral videos and countless media outlets on a daily basis. It is then vitally important to challenge them to be critical about what they read.
One way of doing this, is teaching them the proper way to research. I often do this in my ELA B30 classes where my students are in charge of researching a global issue via TED.com. They need to discuss their issue and present relevant information for the class and also come up with viable solutions for this global catastrophe. I encourage students
to find something they are passionate about and in most cases they do. I’ve had topics such as Blackfish, global warming, overpopulation,refugees and war, and poverty. These are REAL issues and my students gladly teach the class about why we need to act now! Of course, with these issues comes two very different sides. So, we discuss how to find credible sources, what types of things to look for in a valid website or post. We discuss finding said information in more than one place and making sure as Alec Couros said in class, “take the emotions out of the equation.” When people are revved up about an issue, it is human nature to find information that justifies our way of thinking and not information that challenges it. Coralee discusses in her blog this week a lot about the Trump government and his accusations that anyone who doesn’t agree with him is soliciting fake news. She also makes an excellent point that someone is obviously believing this fake news. To avoid this myself, I encourage my students to look at both sides. What are the arguments for? What are the arguments against? How can they challenge these points appropriately and rebuttal? The biggest challenge in teaching my students to think critically is getting them to remove their emotions from the situation.
The same works for day to day teachings. It’s not something I intrinsically do but it’s something that when the opportunity comes up that I take advantage of. It could be as simple as a rumour they heard at school. If a student confides in me, I ask them “how do you know it’s true?” It often gets them to pause and think about the source of
information, even if it’s for just a second. These little teachable moments are what matters the most because it teaches students to not only think for themselves, but it asks them to question the status quo and think about everything that they learn and hear. In class if a student brings up a question and one I do not know for sure, I ask students to google the answer; but not just one student, a few. This creates discussion around the answers they find as they criticize each other’s responses. Whose answer is right? Are they all right? Is there a combination that is correct? What sources did they use? These lessons are the most important and they aren’t something that can be structured, only molded into a lesson given the right circumstances.
As for myself, I try to read many different sources on a certain topics before deciding on a correct answer. It is more time consuming but then I can feel confident in the knowledge I am acquiring. I recently watched “What the Health?” a documentary on Netflix about the meat and dairy industry in the United States. What I learned on the documentary was enough to make me give up meat forever. However, I realized that the story was completely focused on veganism the entire time. Never bringing up the flaws in its own diet. After thinking about the documentary a little more, I started analyzing it and discussing it with a few of my friends. And then my search took me online to a plethora of resources both crediting and discrediting the documentary. My head was spinning with information. In the end, I did not give up meat or dairy because for one, I enjoy both of these things and come on, like I’m going to give up pizza! This is just one example of debates online and my approach to critically analyzing what I read and see in this world full of information. It is enough to make anyone feel overwhelmed, but it just takes practice to cut through the fluff and hopefully find at least a version of the truth you can feel satisfied with!