Quite a Journey! Final Project

Well, here I am at the end of course five with my final project now completed! I have learned a great deal throughout my COETAIL journey and I’ve established a very large PLN group that I will continue to seek advice from long after everything is done.

For my final project, I used the unit from my Course 4 final unit plan Stories My Grandparents Tell. I had originallyIMG_0490 attempted to make the unit plan as inquiry and project based as much as possible. I did find this to be a bit challenging, but while completing the unit with the students, I found realized how many questions and the direction the students wanted to take so we had a lot of fun! The children were very interested in the different toys from the past and they had a lot of fun interviewing other students as well as their parents.

 

We also created ebooks which was much more challenging than I expected. I taught the students basic research tools and how to create their ebooks. The children that learned the technology quickly became great teachers and helped other students that needed more support. It was very cool to see the children helping and teaching each other! Now that the children are more familiar with creating ebooks and using Kiddle to do research, I am hoping that we will create another ebook that is longer for their unit about plants and animals.  

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The students also enjoy using Seesaw to share their work with their parents. I have no really used it as a portfolio as much, but more as a means to share work with parents. The children decide what to share and how often they want to share. It has become more of a portfolio and has given me the opportunity to see how the children are doing. There are still so many things I would like to learn and do more with Seesaw, so I am hoping to continue to try new things and learn through others.

 

Some of the unit changed as we were completing it. We were originally going to have parents come, but that did not work out.  However, we were able to include our “how-to” writing unit with this social studies unit. The students created “how to use an old toy” book with actual toys and they had the opportunity to teach the third graders how to use the toys. It worked out very well. The students had a lot of fun and I am very happy we were able to integrate writing with our Social Studies unit.

With the unit complete, and fairly successful (despite the changes made). It was time to create the video. I had a harder time doing that because I am using one of the school’s Chromebooks and couldn’t find a way to make videos. I finally settled on using WeVideo, but I did have to pay for it. The video wasn’t easy to create and it isn’t super fancy but it’s ok. I will probably not make videos very often, but who knows. It may be something fun to try with the students in the future.
All in all, I really feel much more confident while using technology in the classroom and I have a new appreciation for trying new tools with the kids. My view of technology has changed a lot and  know realize the importance of providing the children with the necessary tools to be technologically literate.

 

 

Keepin up with my PLN

I’ll admit, I have been slacking off a lot during course five (though I have been teaching my final unit and trying new technology while teaching it) I have not been using my PLN at all in recent months. I realized I needed to catch up see what others are doing, then I read the description for week four, and realized this was the perfect time to check in with several of my fellow Coetaliers that I have been following (and working with ) since the second course.

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I always enjoy reading about what Holly Fraser is doing and have found her to be an excellent resource when I’ve needed help or wanted to collaborate. I noticed that she is working a lot with Seesaw, a program I have been playing with some this year. So I reached out to her in order to find out how she is using the digital portfolios and what steps she is taking.

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I noticed that she is working with Andrew Grover using Seesaw to create digital portfolios. I have lurked on his page from time to time and spoken to him a few times, but now that I see what he is doing, I am very curious and excited to follow his journey with using digital portfolios. It will be interesting to see both Holly and Andrew’s final project and find ways to implement digital portfolios more effectively in my classroom.IMG_2367

IMG_2366 While reading some reflective blog examples for week four, I noticed one of the blogs discussed how they use pinterest as well as Twitter to create a larger PLN. Of course, I had never thought of pinterest being a PLN, but I use it all the time and find it to be a very valuable PLN. I even spent some time looking up new ideas for Seesaw in a kindergarten classroom and there is tons of stuff! I even learned about a new app for graphic organizers called Popplet! Why had I never realized what a valuable PLN pinterest can be!

 

IMG_2369 Of course I have been using Twitter since Coetail began and I am still learning more about how powerful of a PLN it can b I follow several fellow Coetailers and use twitter to communicate with Holly and Linda Grunwald, whom I worked with for a collaboration project during course 2. I also enjoy reading several articles on twitter and am trying to use it more with hashtags in order to find more resources. It is amazing how much stuff is out there!

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I enjoy having so many resources and so much help with my PLN. I will have to continue to develop it well after my Coetail experience is over.

The final project…thoughts and ideas ???

I have learned a lot through COETAIL (though I still get stuck on minor techie issues) and I have done some really cool projects such as The Little Ideas Swap Blog where my students blogged what they were learning and what school was like to other students in different parts of the world. I honestly don’t think I will be able to top something like that! I have tried to recreate it with a friend in the states, but it seems to have fizzled out.

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So off to the next big project and my final project for COETAIL. I struggled with ideas for this project. In course four,  I learned a great deal about Project Based Learning (PBL) and even discussed my thoughts in my blog PBL…Great Ideas Popping Up Everywhere! I knew right away I wanted my final project to be a PBL project.

 

The next step was to find a unit that I will be doing with my students. I decided to tackle  a new  unit title “The Stories my Grandparents tell” discussing the past/present as well as needs and wants. Picking this unit and making it a PBL unit while finding ways to integrate technology became trickier than I thought as discussed in my final blog in course 4.  Trying to think of ways to make this more inquiry based and not teacher centered was hard since the children were not around in the past and needed some background information. I figured I could use pictures, videos and a variety of different books to introduce the unit.  However, if I look at the SAMR Model, using technology in this way was only meeting the substitution strand of the model. screenshot-2016-10-30-at-5-41-07-pm

 

To add more depth, inquiry and higher and use more strands on SAMR I figured it may be fun for the children to come up with some questions to ask people that are older than themselves about the past. The children can interview high schoolers, their parents and grandparents to determine how different life was. They can as about toys, technology, tools, etc.  The interviews can be taped for later reference.

 

At the same time, I am hope to teach the students how to use the the Book Creator app so they can create a short story of their grandparent or parents’ childhood. They can use pictures from their parents or use the website Kiddle to find different pictures to add to their short stories. These stories will be shared with their parents as well as put in their digital portfolio.

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While discussing my ideas for this unit with my colleagues, we realised that we will be teaching “How to” books at the same time we do this social studies unit. It may be fun to bring in older toys (slinky, etcha-sketch,  jump rope, jacks, etc.) and have the students learn to play the games and work with partners to create a “how to play…” using the older toys. They can them share their “how to” on Seesaw as well as create an ebook (if time permits).

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I’m excited to give this unit a try and see if things change or are adapted along the way. Of course things do not always go as planned but I may be surprised at how this unit develops when actually doing it. I have learned through my years of teaching as well as during this course to sometimes have fun experimenting with new things with the kids and learn along side them so if anyone has any ideas of something that may be fun to try or may work better, please let me know!