Wednesday, 6 March 2013

#I4ED... endings and new beginnings!

Last uni class tomorrow! I am excited see more student projects reflecting our learning journeys in I4ED! My summative project is posted below. I needed some help to get the audio and slides together, but am challenging myself to do another one by myself this weekend, so I do not forget how!
I have come to really enjoy blog-land. I like reflecting on my experiences, reading about others' perspectives and engaging in discussion and debate over issues that come up. This may be my favourite tool to come out of class, and one I will incorporate into my teaching in many ways. I have really enjoyed reading my classmates' blogs over the past few months... I hope to stay connected and keep sharing experiences through student teaching and job - hunting!
Hope everyone has a fun and fulfilling student teaching placement!

Sunday, 3 March 2013

The future and me and technology... and shout-outs!

As our class winds down, I have been reflecting on all I have learned and thinking about how my teaching will benefit from our Internet for Educators class. I spent some time reading classmates' blogs, and realize how much I have gained just from connecting with the students in this class! I hope we continue to share ideas, resources and stories as we enter our teaching careers! The connection / communication opportunities will ripple out from here as I explore the great resources students and educators generously share. The chances I have had to collaborate and to ask questions have helped me to acquire more confidence in using technology. Taking this class was a leap out of my comfort zone... as is well documented in this blog, I came late to this tech party! I have a low frustration threshold when it comes to things I can't reason with verbally... like computers and devices. Thanks to all my classmates who patiently answered my questions and helped me out... especially Lisa, Tyler, Kirsten and Jennifer. And our fearless leader, Mr. Mike Nantais...I am pretty sure I would not have joined this class if not for your encouragement and enthusiasm for all kinds of learning.

I learned about  new educational tools in every class.  I am much more aware of the amazing learning opportunities that technology creates, and I will use tools like Twitter, blogging, infographics, podcasts and video in my future classes. The most important thing that has changed has been my outlook. I am grateful for my new, improved perspective on technology. What I will really take with me from this class is a 21st century view of sharing. The sharing and co-creating of information and experiences has always been an important part of my teaching philosophy, but I now see  possibilities in the future and go... WOW! My students are lucky to be learners in this generation.
I want my students to experience success, and it  my responsibility as an educator to use all the tools in the shed to support their learning. This class has helped to "unlock the shed" for me! I am committed to this ongoing journey of learning  about and infusing ICT into my teaching.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

The Future is Happening!

Reading the NMC Horizon Report is an eye-opening look at the amazing ways technology is enhancing education and learning now, and a look ahead to possibilities for the future.
This is an exciting time in education. We have tools that can expand and and extend the learning experience for ourselves and for students. A few of my thoughts, ideas and realizations...
Smartphones/Tablets - These devices already have a strong presence in many schools. They allow students independent access to information and the ability to communicate and connect with others outside the classroom. A huge array of Apps allow for differentiation and offer some students specialized learning support. Before this class I was a little nervous about "dealing" with kids using phones in school all day, and fearing the distraction this might cause. Now, I have come to understand the many functions and benefits of phones and tablets. Students won't be distracted, and will use the tools for learning if they are guided and encouraged to do so... and that is my job.
Game-based Learning - This is an area I need to learn more about. I think that there are many benefits to games and often use cooperative and competitive games in my lessons. I agree that games can increase engagement and develop visual awareness, problem solving and strategy. I think I have an image of the "gamer" as being isolated, playing a game instead of interacting with real people. I realize  that most games have a community of players, and need to work on accepting Mr. M. Nantais' wise words... "these (online connections) are real people, too!" As with everything, moderation and balance are key.
Personal Learning Environments - This aspect of technology is really interesting to me. Students can use tools to create a personal environment to suit their own learning style. They can explore and connect with people in their own areas of interest. I see this embracing this development as true constructivism... students taking ownership of their learning. As a teacher, my goal is to instill in students a love of learning for its own sake. Through technology, students have more independence and more opportunity for self-directed learning.
Augmented Reality - The Horizon report is looking down the road and seeing these developments becoming classroom norms. The blend of "real world and related media and data" is basically an extension of how we are already using technology to connect with other classrooms and cultures,experiences, and places around the world. This kind of technology will offer contextual experience. As we all strive to make learning relevant and make lessons come alive, I can imagine the virtual tours of the future! My students might be able to explore Ankor Wat, or watch an ancient Olympics, or experience the life of an astronaut. Exciting stuff!
Natural User Interface Developments in technology mean advances in how people interact with devices. As my 2 year old niece shows me when she tries to "slide" the screen on my not-smart-phone to "see the pictures", people have already adapted to different interactions with devices and want hands on access! A point I really liked in the report was about this technology was considering the possibilities for people with disabilities that affect speech or mobility. Imagine what  gesture or voice based interface could mean for some people's ability to communicate and connect!

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Presenting... Awesome I4Ed Projects!

I was so impressed with all of the presentations in our Internet for Educators yesterday! I thought it was especially great to see how many different presentation tools and styles were used. I love  that this class is multi-faceted... we consider how  using the internet and technology can enhance our teaching, experiment with tricks and tools and have the opportunity to share the information in person and online. Real integrated learning! I think all of the presentations were a great example of this... taking a subject we all know a little about, extending our understanding and providing time for questions, opinion sharing and discussion. I learned from all of the presentations.. about the content, about the delivery tool and through class face to face interaction. Great work, all! The video made me consider a video for my summative project... it looked like this group had a lot of fun putting it  together.

When I joined the class,  I had fears that it would be a lot of independent work and exploration.  I was concerned that my skill level would mean I would constantly be behind and my questions would be annoying to the tech savvy among us. I have a different view now. I can see how many tools  enable communication and effective sharing. Even when I am struggling along on my own with something like infographics, or have a question about how the heck to get on my group's wiki, or wonder how my computer ate my blog post, I can use twitter to quickly connect and ask questions. It is  easy to  seek info and collaborate from a distance. The presentation day was the best of both worlds for me.. tech  tools and in-person combined! I am really looking forward to seeing everyone's summative projects next week.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

An Important Interactive Learning Site

This is an interactive website that I came across last term. It is a multimedia learning experience about residential schools in Canada. It is extremely user friendly and provides an authentic look at this issue in a way that has much more impact than reading a few paragraphs in a textbook.

This site has a wealth of important information.  Interactive activities for students including a virtual tour of a school, interactive maps and audio stories by residential school survivors. I also appreciate the links to teacher resources and support. As we move towards a culturally inclusive study of national and world history, the residential schools issue is a subject that needs and deserves respectful attention.  Integrating indigenous content into curriculum is important in all content areas, most especially in my own teachable area of history.  I think this site is an excellent starting point for learning, sharing and teaching.

Sunday, 24 February 2013


In the past, my experience with podcasts has been catching up on favorite CBC programs that I missed! I have been exploring some more podcasts specifically for history: I enjoyed listening to some historical speeches on Saturday... a great way to emphasize "primary sources" in history. Some of these are actually archived speeches, and some are dramatic re-creations. I can imagine all would be more engaging in class than just reading the speech... after all, a speech is meant to be heard! I believe that differentiation is really important, to address learning needs and to add variety to lessons. Using podcasts can be another way to appeal to less visual learners or reluctant readers. I will use podcasts in many subject areas. Short podcast interviews would also be great for presenting different points of view. I will continue to check out and build up my collection of interesting podcasts... even if it cuts into my "listening to CBC" time... I can always find and listen to "Q" later!