Update on Final Project

Well, I am doing well with the final project unit (not quite the same on the video making portion).I have been pleasantly surprised at how well the students did throughout the unit now that we are almost finished with it.

The unit’s main goals was to introduce the ideas of past, present and future and discuss the changes and similarities. We also wanted to add a short bit on the needs and wants during this unit as well. I found that creating the unit to make it more inquiry based was rather challenging. Thinking about the past is a very abstract concept for the children so I had to find a way to think about the past and come up with questions they had about the past.

I began the unit simply by passing my own childhood pictures around. They had no idea what they were looking at until they started seeing the older pictures and they figured it out. They had a lot of fun looking at my pictures and noticing some of my toys, clothes and even how I looked.  After we looked at my pictures, I passed around pictures from the past that were sorted in groups (schools, cars, toys, etc.). Their discussions were very interesting when looked at pictures from the past. This helped generate questions and thoughts about the past and really grabbed their interest!

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After watching videos, cartoons and commercials from the past (50’s-90’s) we had a high school class come over and we interviewed them! The high school students helped the younger ones with the video, bt each group took a video and had a lot of fun interviewing the high schoolers with questions they came up with. After that interview, my students went home and interviewed someone in their family.  The parents and children had a fun time with this project. I learned a lot about the families in my classroom and saw several really neat pictures.

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I figured it was time to introduce the book creator on the ipads and the students made a short (but very time consuming to create) video from their parents interviews.

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Now we are in the final stages of creating time capsules and recording what is in them. Hopefully these will be opened in 10-20 years!

Originally I was hoping to have the grandparents or parents come in at different points. I did invite them in, but only one parent was able to make it during the interviews of their past. I also changed the final activity. The children did have time capsules, but those will only be shared through Seesaw. They were also working on instructional “how-to” writing during this unit so my colleagues and I decided to have them write a “how to” use an older toy (Rubik cube, jump ropes, etc.). We invited the third grade classes to come and learn how to use the toys. It was a fun way of combining both writing and the social studies units.

Now with all the information and completing the unit (which took a lot longer than the expected time frame), I am off to create my video presentation. I will be honest and say I am not looking forward to this part. My video from unit three was only about 2 minutes and it took several hours to make! I am still new  creating videos so I know this will be very time consuming and a lot of my final post will be more of how the video making went as well as what I decide to include in it (there is so much!!) At least I still have about a month to figure it all out!

Still thinking

I had a lot of a-ha moments while reading week three’s suggested readings and watching the videos! I was very excited when I read the article Story Telling Advice from Akira Kurosawa and watched his video because I immediately thought of the Writer’s Workshop in my kindergarten classroom.  Akira uses an analogy of writing a screenplay to climbing a mountain:

Creating a film is an enormous task Kursosawa says, but the important thing is to not let yourself get overwhelmed by the size of the task. His advice is not just for filmmakers but for writers or anyone else who has a big, creative job to do in front of them. As he says, when you climb a high mountain you must not look up to the peak so often but instead focus on the ground just a head of you. Step by step you make progress. But if you keep looking up at how far you have to go to finish it will be discouraging and also distracts you from the moment at hand.

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Even though my kindergartners are not writing screenplays, I notice they often either rush to the end of a story they are creating (usually with pictures at the moment) or just give up all together and begin a new story right away (many have over 50 pieces of paper in their folder, many with unfinished pictures and stories).  Now, for five year olds, it is difficult to stay focused or remember what is being created, but they do understand the idea of a finished story versus one they are working on. I like the analogy Akira made about not looking up at a mountain, that take it step by step. After listening to him in his video (actually, just reading the subtitles because despite having lived in Japan for two years, I do not understand it) I was thinking of ways I can use mini-lessons to teach the students to take their writing step by step and to focus on finishing their stories (without rushing to the end) or at least revisiting their story in order to attempt to finish it.

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After Reading, then watching the presentation Presenting in Today’s World, I began to think about my final project and how I want to change the powerpoint presentation discussed in my blog last week, There’s so much more to  a picture.  

For starters, I would take the first page of the presentation away entirely because the next several slides discuss each subject area in the curriculum in more detail and the presentation would be much more effective if it was kept simple as discussed in the video: Presentation Zen: An OVerview.

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The overall back to school presentation would be much more effective not only with pictures (maybe even real pictures of the children) but with stories from previous classes as well as videos (of the children). For example, this is the second page of the current powerpoint:

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It is pretty simple, but I can revamp it by:

  • Possibly a brief video of the basics of a guided reading group (if I can figure out how to add videos)
  • add pictures of the actual books used, centers visited, etc.img_5863
  • tell stories of how guided reading groups work, some funny stories of previous groups or centers (a child enjoyed the center so much they took the whole thing home!) .

 

The presentation is often sent home after the back to school night for the parents that were unable to attend, or for reference. It may be helpful to have some brief notes attached to the slides for more meaning.

Those of just ideas and thoughts that are helping me with the final project (as well as use in the classroom with the students). Now it’s time to start experimenting with google slides, presentations and more!

What’s The Weather? Final project for Course 1

It took me a long time to figure out what to do for my final project. I have embarked on a lot of new technology features (a lot meaning two, but that is a lot for me to handle) and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do a writing unit or science unit since I have been using some new technology for both. I decided to stick with the science unit since we are still in the process of completing it and I included a little more collaboration with other schools throughout the world and a large portion of what I’ve learned in COETAIL so far has been about the importance of collaboration. I thought about what Andrew Marcinek said in his article, Help Students Use Social Media to Empower, Not Just connect:

As educators, we must model positive use of learning networks and groups, and give students the proper foundations in the effective use of social media. Let’s move students beyond the simple connections that they get, and really empower their voices, abilities, and talents.

I have learned that with my kindergartners, I can build the foundation on teaching the children how to collaborate with others around the globe in a purposeful manner. They can see the value of working collaboratively and having strong connections with others. We had wonderful conversations with other students from around the world and discussed their weather, watched some of them prepare to go outside (snowsuits, etc.) and gained a new perspective of people around the world. The students really enjoyed collaborating with others from around the world and learned a lot from them!snow

 

My school recently adopted the NGSS Science Standards, so my colleagues and I were already working on the unit for Earth’s Systems mostly about weather. The unit was originally planned out a while ago with very little technology, however with the introduction of the SAMR Model, I realized, I need to look at the limited technology and decide how to add new technology in a more purposeful way to help promote higher order thinking skills. Using both the SAMR model and the Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy, I  looked at the original technology planned (songs and videos) and realized that did not promote much higher level thinking and it was mostly used as a substitution for older videos and books.

That is when I decided to use Skype and connect with other schools (friends’ classes) to collaborate more and learn even more about the weather patterns around the world. As I said earlier, this was a great introduction to purposeful collaboration and networks. As the unit continued, I began experimenting with the Kid Weather app. The students had a lot of fun with it and we were able to record the weather in other parts of the world and see the clothing that might be worn.

As the final assessment of the unit, the original plan was to have the children forecast the weather with pictures and labels based on the patterns they saw in previous weeks. I decided to take this a step further after I was introduced to the Easy Blogger Jr.  The blogger has a function that allows the students to video their forecast and why they made the predictions they made. This will allow me to see more than just the final product, but also understand the children’s thinking.

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I have not completed this unit yet, and and still working on ideas that might not happen this year, but may come together for next year when I complete this unit again.  I was thinking it would be fun to share the bloggs with the other classes we spoke with and see what they come up with as well. I can challenge my own students to make weather predictions for the other locations based on the patterns recorded and send the predictions to them as well.

All of this is still a work in progress and I am still figuring it out as I go. I hope next year when this unit is taught, more will be in place and I will have more experience with different tools.

 

New perspectives, thoughts and ideas

I’ll admit that the many times I have used technology in my classroom, I have never put much thought as to the degree of learning (if any) is happening or how effective my use of technology is. It has often been embedded for the purpose of something fun, making sure it’s included to meet the standards, or to simply fill time (especially at the beginning of the school year when a five year old’s attention span is not much longer than five minutes).

However, after reading the mindshift article, How to Determine if Student Engagement is Leading to Learning, I realized that even if the students appear to be actively engaged, they may not actually be taking a new learning from their engagement. As stated;

Having fun, collaborating, communicating, and being creative are all very important elements that should be embedded elements of pedagogically sound lessons, but we must not lose sight of the importance of the connection to, and evidence of, learning. Thus, students can walk away from a lesson or activity having been very engaged but with very little in the form of new knowledge construction, conceptual mastery, or evidence of applied skills.

Children singing and dancing to a song counting by fives might not translate to a skill that during a math lesson. They may be able to sing the words, but they are unable to actually apply it to help solve a mathematical equation.

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I must begin to think about exactly how I am going to use technology in ways that students will  not only be engaged, but also learn and walk away with specific skills.

 

In his recent blog post, Integrations, connections and wonderings,  fellow cohort, Brendon.pe,

used the SMAR model to explore how authentic his technology he was using in his PE class was.

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It was interesting to read how Brendon rates the apps he used. I had never seen the SMAR before and realize this is an excellent to evaluate the technology I use in my classroom. If I were to look at my count by five’s song and use the SMAR model, I believe that it is simply a substitution and does not really act as a tool for creation nor does it allow for higher level thinking skills. In fact, a good portion of the technology I have used in the classroom simply acts as a substitution or Augmentation. I realize that I need to create more authentic uses of technology to allow for modification and redefinition. This is quite a challenge for me as I am not tech savvy and often stick with the easiest tools I can figure out quickly.

As I’ve said many times, I am very nervous, yet excited  to continue in my COETAIL journey in order to gain more insight on how I can incorporate more technology on a higher level in my classroom.

While exploring more of the RSS readers and Flipchart, I came across an excellent article by George Couros, ​The #InnovatorsMindset: What We Can Learn from Carly Rae Jepsen and the Harvard Baseball Team #CE15, explaining just how well one teacher can still be a “luker” yet gain a lot of ideas and best practices for the classroom.  George noted three main elements a teacher used to accelerate his classroom practices:

  1. He connected with other educators not only in his school and district, but also through social media (the crowd).

  2. Their ideas were shared openly (the visibility) and he was able to disseminate what would work best for the community he served.

  3. Ultimately, his want (the desire) to become better fueled his classroom to become the innovative environment that our students need.

I have a lot of learning and growth to make, but I hope connecting with this community and other new communities will enable to learn what works best use technology in a way that will challenge and inspire the young minds in my classroom.

Jumping in!

I began teaching with the typical whiteboard/chalkboard, overhead projector and teacher computer (and that wasn’t really that long ago!). I was lucky if there were computers for the students, but for the most part, they usually went to the computer lab to learn more about technology. I was able to avoid incorporating technology in the classroom and therefore never really forced myself to learn more than the basics.

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We were always so excited when we got a new projector!

         A lot has changed (in a short time) since I began teaching and I realize now that I HAVE to learn more than just the basics about the technology that my students (even at five ) use on a daily basis.

Even after reading Living and Learning with New Media Report ,  I realized just how connected the students are while using the internet.

“Social network sites, online games, video-sharing sites, and gadgets such as iPods and mobile phones are now fixtures of youth culture. They have so permeated young lives that it is hard to believe that less than a decade ago these technologies had barely registered in the lives of U.S. children and teens” (p. 4).

aol  I  think back to my own teen years when AOL and chat rooms were just beginning to take off. Even at that time, I used the chat rooms as a tool for connecting to complete strangers in other states. I remember learning the different codes and language very quickly. Even today, I still use facebook, Twitter and other networking tools to stay connected to people around the globe.

While reading Jeff Utecht’s book  REACH, I quickly learned how many wonderful tools there are on the web to build Personal Learning Networks (PLN) and connect with others for a variety of reasons whether school or hobbies. I have never really heard of the RSS reader until I began this course and read the book (and to be honest, I am still trying to figure it out). What a wonderful tool for researching information quickly! I think about all the time this could have saved me in my research or when I had students do simple research in a google kids sight.

I am amazed at how well the internet connects us to the world and how much we can learn from it! It takes just a click of a button to skype my family across the world, look up a fun song for a brain break or research information on reading workshop!

However, I need to continue to grow and learn in order to keep up with my students and prepare them for a future that will continue to advance.  In the article, World Without Walls, Will Richardson says it best:

“We must engage with these new technologies and their potential to expand our own understanding and methods in this vastly different landscape. We must know for ourselves how to create, grow, and navigate these collaborative spaces in safe, effective, and ethical ways. And we must be able to model those shifts for our students and counsel them effectively when they run across problems with these tools.”

So here I am, ready to jump in and embark on this 18 month journey through COETAIL to do just that!

Just getting started

Hello!

I am new to this and trying to figure it all our before my cohort begins! I am a little nervous because I am not very good at technology, so I’ll have a steep learning curve!

I teach Kindergarten in Hong Kong, prior to this I was in Japan (Hokkaido), and Guatemala. I am originally from Denver, Colorado (Go BRONOS!) and taught for several years in the Denver public School system before moving abroad.

I am looking forward to learning from everyone and figuring this blogging out!