Monthly Archives: December 2013

Final Project

My EDCI 338 Final Project is a collaboration with Michelle Hiebert, a Kindergarten/ Grade 1 teacher in the same district as I.  We had originally planned to create a scope and sequence document for teaching Social Media in the Early Years. There is currently no technology curriculum for that age level, and with Social Media becoming a huge part of our lives, we believe Early Years teachers have to start teaching some Social Media skills. The skills we were looking at were meant to show kids how to  interact positively and safely on Social Media, just as we teach social skills and stranger danger.  We had the hope that it would affect how kids interact on Social Media as they age.

Michelle and I looked at our schools with their unique clientele, and we realized that we had to adapt our scope and sequence idea. Michelle’s clientele come from homes with computers and ipads, where parents all have email addresses and are online. At my school, many of our parent do not have email addresses or computers in the home. Those that do, do not have the language skills to see what their children are doing online. We wanted to try and show educators how Social Media, specifically twitter, can be used in a classroom, and how tweeting with kids can model “positive” behaviour. Our goal was to introduce and ease the way for teachers who wanted to connect globally. By publishing our information in book format, we hope to reach teachers across Canada, and hopefully, beyond.

 Once we got everything rolling on our professional book, I thought it would be interesting to see what our 5-6 year olds thought after using twitter for 3 months. I thought it would be fun to create a twitter guide book of their own. This book would be written by kids, going over the rules and expectations which they know are appropriate for social media. This second text would also, hopefully, reach other K/1 classes and give teachers another tool to use when connecting young learners on a global level.

 I truly believe that we are not aiming to change policy, but to help develop teacher practice and classroom culture. The research we found supported the need for education about Social Media tools, and although the steps showing how to start tweeting are meant for young classes, they can be easily adapted to older ones. I hear teachers saying that kids are hard to connect to, and that kids don’t have a world view. Connecting to a class across your own country or even the world is one way to help kids see our similarities and differences, and to help share their learning.

 Throughout this process, Michelle and I have spent time looking at our own practices with Social Media in our classrooms, and I read several articles on underage Social Media usage in Europe, as well the PEW Institute’s research on Teens and Social Media Use. We each spent time writing sections of our book, and worked collaboratively on the steps a teacher could take to become more comfortable on Social Media. Our meeting times were very productive and fun!

 In Evaluating our project, I cannot just look at the finished product to see if we have been successful. Time will tell if people find our “How To” guide and use it in their professional development. I know, that for me personally, I look at the processes I learned throughout this project and can evaluate my own learning. I have discovered how to use a Google Doc, worked in Book Creator, and had to learn how to use the internet for research purposes (Yes, I’m that old).  It has been an informative and useful process as I can see Book Creator being used in my classroom, and I am excited to try new things  and experiment with Google Doc and Google Drive.

Created with Book Creator App

Blog Inspiration

I sat in front of my computer the other night, trying to determine Open Education opportunities I have had over the course of this term. I’ve tweeted and chatted and sat around a “campfire” with people I admire and am amazed at. One person’s blog, in particular, has inspired me to change how I view the technology in my classroom and to look at the “why” of what I am teaching.

I have followed Matt B Gomez’s blog for about 6 months now. I had heard of him, had conversations with him on twitter, and knew of him from #kinderchat. At the end of the last school year, I decided to start checking his blog posts on a regular basis.  I had subscribed to his blog, but hadn’t really taken the time to sit and really read his writing. Over the summer, when I received an email about a new post, I would give it a quick scan and go back to whatever pressing summer task was at hand. I didn’t really read the post until I saw one that I had originally skipped titled, “Living Centers in Elementary Classrooms”. It was a re-post from a year earlier, but as I read it, I started to get excited about implementing this idea into my own classroom. I realized that just skimming these posts of Matt’s was not cutting it. I had to get serious, because this teacher in Texas had amazing ideas.

I started to go back over Matt’s blog, and now when an email comes in to tell me that he has posted, I try to find an actual space of time to read and think about his post. As with everything, there are some things that I am not sure I am quite ready to do in my class, but I have started to adapt some of his suggestions and ideas to our learning environment. I recently expressed my frustration over teaching writing with my students. It has always been my weakest subject area to teach, and I was at a loss at how to help my little people take pencil to paper and express themselves.  Matt mentioned his Wonder Journals to me, which was a blog post I had skimmed. I went back to look at how he used the app Explain Everything to show a picture from Wonderopolis. Under the picture are 1-2 simple vocabulary words to help the kids recording what they wonder. I went back and read that post again and took the idea back to my class.  We didn’t jump right into the writing the first day, but looked at pictures and wondered aloud at the marvel we saw. By now, my kids are starting to record their thoughts and images in a Wonder Journal of their own, and are realizing that writing is not just frame sentences and phonics lessons.

There are so many ideas in Matt’s blogs.  He posts videos to show how he uses technology in the class and to highlight apps that he feels work in a classroom setting. He gave me the idea to plop a couple of our jack-o-lanterns into the school plant bed so that we could watch them decompose. His dance and alphabet mixes on Symbaloo get used a lot in my room, and have inspired me to start “messing around” with my own Symbaloo page. He has helped to show me that the iPad in my room can do far more than I ever imagined. I have started to refer other people to his website when they ask me for “good” apps and ideas for the limited technology in their rooms.

I would love to be able to walk across the hall or drive down the street to visit Mr. Gomez’s classroom and see him in action. But I can’t. Professional Development funds won’t quite cover the cost of a trip to Texas. His blogs are the next best thing to seeing inside his room, and thankfully, one can usually find him at the kinderchat for questions and advice.

Thanks for the learning and inspiration.

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