Friday, July 8, 2011

New and Exciting Times

It seems I'm beginning to take part in some classic "newbie" behaviour:
  1. It's not even mid-July and I've already emailed my principal with a list of annoying but necessary questions
  2. I've created and added all of my students to a class wiki and blog (can I just say that kidblogs is awesome)
  3. I've ordered my preferred phonics literacy system and eagerly await its arrival
  4. I spend my "free time" reading early literacy and mathematics books
  5. I've renewed my membership to Intelligence Online/Galileo Network and began seeking out inquiry projects
And, I'm not going to lie, this list is just going to keep growing. It's all so exciting though!
These are some of the resources I'm finding really helpful right now:

In writing this, however, I am beginning to remind myself about teacher self care and how that can impact teaching. I need to consciously make sure that I enjoy normal summer things before the hectic school year begins. It's exciting to feel this passionate about work though. I feel like the child in Vivian Paley's A Child's Work, which focuses on the importance of learning through play. I'm experiencing the adult version, learning through engagement.

Monday, May 30, 2011

How long till I'm an expert teacher?

I'm just making my way through Outliers for the first time (something tells me I'll be reading it again one day) and pondering Gladwell's implications for a newbie teacher. Gladwell talks about how everyone needs at least 10,000 hours of challenging, diligent practice to be an expert. If I generously include my student teaching hours and my work hours so far after graduation, I'm at a whopping 925 hours of teaching time.

Yikes. Could this be a deterrent for a potential employer? Perhaps. But what are the benefits of hiring a fresh-out-the-gates teacher? What do we have to offer students, families, and schools? What kinds of experiences do we have with educational technology and theory that characterize our pedagogy?

Just 9,075 hours to go!

Image source.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

When are you a Teacher?

I've been thinking a lot about this question recently. I just graduated from a teaching program and am now a certified Alberta teacher. But am I really a Teacher?

In recent encounters with new people, I've been asked the commonplace question, "what do you do?". I've found myself struggling with a particular answer. You see, I have a degree that says I'm a teacher but, in reality, I have not a classroom of my own or an actual teaching position. So I reply with "I'm in education". And then, the lets-get-to-the-bottom-of-this question, "oh, are you a teacher". "Well yes" I reply, "but I'm not working as a teacher right now. I'm working with special needs students in schools..." And round we go.

A kind of teacher. (image source)

So all this made me wonder, at what point can I justify calling myself a teacher?

Shouldn't the status of Teacher be reserved for those actually engaging in it on a daily basis? Those spectacular people designing activities for student learning, dealing with parents, going to meetings, thinking about the learning needs of each and every student in the class, and taking on the curriculum? I certainly engage in junior versions of many of these things now, but certainly not to the full extent of a classroom teacher. I cannot help but feel I would be devaluing what they do everyday by calling myself a teacher.

A revered teacher. (image source)

But what about the innate nature of a teacher? Surely many would argue that Ghandi was a great teacher, even though he didn't teach in schools or hold a teaching certificate. After all, are there not some people out there that are teaching that really shouldn't be? They usually know who they are, and have often ended up there for various reasons. Teaching is not for everybody. Degree or no degree, some people are just Teachers and others are not. In this sense, I am a Teacher. I should be loud and proud about replying to the question of what I do. I teach! It's hard not to feel like you're misleading someone though. God forbid they continue to question about what grade you teach...

A teacher in the making? (image source)

But then again, did I not strive for this over my 6 years of university education (and increasingly ridiculous tutition fees, I might add)? After all of that, have I not yet earned the right to call myself a Teacher? I had a dream and I fulfilled that dream! Well...I got the credentials I needed to be able to fulfill that dream. Hmmm.

Ultimately, I feel this push and pull over my changing identity. It's that sort of in limbo feeling that you can't wait to shake. A degree isn't everything, and rightly so.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Transparent Classroom for me

I recently read a blog post at Seth's Blog that made me think back to Amy Park's transparent classroom. A transparent classroom relates the idea that what happens in the classroom is accessible information for parents, other teachers, and administrators. More than just leaving the door open, the transparent classroom reaches out to the community and families to involve them in the important task of learning. As a new teacher, I know I will make many mistakes in the course of my career. There will always be things that I could have done better and ways to improve. How could having my classroom transparent help me grow professionally? How can a transparent classroom ultimately enhance student learning?

As a new teacher, I am both excited and scared about getting feedback and advice from colleagues. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for helpful, constructive feedback. In fact, I have often made the case that there is not enough open feedback loops in the professional teaching community. The reason why I'm afraid is because I know that the way I think about teaching and learning is very different from the way it's currently practised in the many classrooms. This whole shift in education is easy to approach in theory but difficult to translate into practice when you often see around you dusty IWBs, punishments and rewards, squashing of ideas (a.k.a. shushing), and worksheet after worksheet after...that's right, worksheet. What are other, experienced, teachers going to think about my smile-and-nod approach to their worksheet sharing meetings? Will I be subliminally coerced into using them? Is it undermining the value of a collaborative network to reject things that the rest of your team use and believe in? How receptive will my colleagues then be of my ideas? (My mind is now racing about creating a "worksheet center" in the classroom that's completely optional for students. I wonder how many of them would go there and how long it would sustain their interest. If you can contextualize them, can worksheets build student understanding?)

This book outlines future classrooms that have auditory, but not visual, barriers making a physically transparent classroom.

On the other hand, one of the major benefits of the transparent classroom is parental involvement. I love parents, even helicopter ones. This is probably related to the fact that I am one...a parent, not a helicopter, but fundamentally because parents are always advocates for what they think is best for their children. I even came across an article discussing how children of helicopter parents are more engaged. After all, they tend to know their children best and to not use their expertise and involve them in their childrens' learning is shameful. They have a right to be involved. By having a transparent classroom that involves parents I benefit from learning more about their children and students benefit, at the very least, from knowing that the school is a community place where they, and their families, belong. Of course, those helicopter types will make sure I'm engaging their children in quality, engaged learning.

Are students just as bothered by them as teachers? (image source)

I really enjoyed the perspective in this article about moving toward a transparent classroom. The full transparency of one of my last courses at university was a simple step toward full engagement by the students, a strong connection with the professor, and the sharing and collaboration of amazing work and ideas. Simply knowing that I could tweet my prof was empowering and broke down barriers so that I could ask questions and share ideas that I never would have shared otherwise. You can see what we did each week and access all of the students' blogs here.

Ultimately, student learning is of the utmost importance and something that leads to better teaching and more engagement is worth investing in. While I have to admit that splashing my pedagogical ideas and choices up in the air for everyone to see is slightly, okay very, intimidating, I know it will make me a better teacher.

Inclusive Technology use in ECE

The link below leads to a webpage that displays my literature review of technology use in ECE. This topic divided itself into 3 categories: fostering creativity, gender inclusion, gaming to learn, and teaching for diverse learners.

Some of the key questions discussed are:
How can teachers know which technologies are worthwhile quality for fostering the development of creativity?
How can girls become more engaged with technology?
How can technology that appeals to boys be used in the classroom?
What is the role of technology in the Early Childhood classroom?
How can digital gaming be used in education generally, and ECE specifically?
How does the Universal Design for Learning support learners with technology?

Additionally, some practical resources are cited.

Feedback is welcome and encouraged!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

My blog in a high five

Inspired by my fellow BEd grad Christy in her Intentionally Me blog, I've created the word cloud of Wonderment. Interestingly, both of us have technology, students, and learning as three of our most commonly used words.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Professional Growth Plan with Goals

Following, is a list of my professional goals to strive toward over the next year (my first year as a professional teacher).

1. Continue to discover the value of technology in an early childhood classroom

Upon having my own classroom, I will strive to include digital mediums, or at least the option of digital mediums, in meaningful ways. My goal is to try at least one digital game with my class over the next year and examine its value for learning. In addition to that, I will take any opportunities that arise to play digital games on my own time.

2. Teach myself and my students critical literacy skills.

I am a sucker for a good writer. Often I’ve had to take a step back and ask myself just how credible a source is, where the information came from, etc. If this is a challenge for me, it will be one for my students. It is a goal for me to commit to teaching my students critical literacy skills, which includes all forms of literacy (visual, audio, etc.). I believe that this is a culture that needs to be established from the beginning through community building where students can trust me and one another.

3. Successfully harmonize the many important roles I have.

You don’t need a lot of time in the education world to realize it is no secret that teaching is a very demanding job. This is not only pertaining to the time it takes to design engaging tasks, organize resources and materials, etc. It’s also related to the mental energy you need when you are fully engaged with your students and their learning. Particularly as a mother, I have found it challenging to harmonize all the different roles I have now. As I embark on my new career, I want to commit to some set hours for quality time in my various roles.

4. Keep connected.

This is possibly my most important goal. In working as an education assistant I have had the tremendous opportunity to see some amazing schools and teachers. On the other hand I have also seen a lot of situations where even the most positive attitude can quickly be snuffed out. It doesn’t mean I will not work in this type of environment. After all, kids are kids are kids no matter where you go. They all have talents and creative minds to expose. However, I believe that, for me to survive and be the teacher that I really want to be, I need to uphold a strong connection with colleagues and mentors that will inspire me, tell me when I’m wrong (and right!), and support me on this adventure. Some of these people will hopefully be teachers I work with, while a lot of them will be from my fellow grads from U of C, my U of C professors, and the amazing teachers all over world that I can connect with through social networking applications.

5. Read books…lots of books.

Anyone that knows me, knows I am a huge book worm. I don’t do a lot of fiction outside of children’s picture books, although I do try to just for the sake of broadening my horizons. Within the next year I want to read the following books:

  • Five Minds for the Future by Howard Garner
  • Waiting for Superman by Karl Weber
  • A New Culture of Learning by Douglas Thomas & John Seely Brown
  • The Element by Sir Ken Robinson
  • Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire

  • Educating for Wisdom and Compassion by John Miller

  • Powerful Learning by Linda Darling-Hammond

  • Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell (I’m actually embarrassed that I haven’t read this one yet)

  • and finally, I'll find a fiction book that's all the hype at whatever time I choose to read one

So that's it. I would love some comments on any other great books people have read!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Squeezing every last drop out of Michele

Taylor Mali poem: Michele's blog "Talyor Mali: My Favourite Teacher & Poet"

How to support toxic communities (Conference in New Orleans)
-focus on designing authentic learning environments
-equity where we don't lower our standards

Will wait on the edge of my seat for Michele's favourite booklist to be posted on her blog!

Provocative Ideas:
Knowledge building as the most important 21st century skill
  • we must engage with technology
  • Managing on the twelfth (Clifford & Friesen, 1993): what matters is that you engage the students
    • we have to empower them so their work is of value outside the classroom
    • think carefully about what you're asking your students to do
  • students want to create, connect, and collaborate
  • they need to be knowledge creators
  • we need to question our own deeply held beliefs about teaching
  • Choice and Voice for Every Child -see YouTube video (which we totally didn't watch in class)
    • what if we provided technological accommodations for ALL students?
  • Hands-on vs. Hands-up video
Engaged teaching matters more than ever in a participatory digital world
  • Unengaged teaching is not improved by technology
  • we need support to both new and experienced teachers in designing and leading the type of technology-based learning 21st century students need
  • Teaching and Learning in 21st century Learning Environments: 3 year longitudinal design based exploratory study (elementary and middle schools)
    • cognitive investment required by students
    • instructional style: how is the teacher relating to the students in that particular lesson?
    • authenticity
    • level of student engagement during every 1/3 of the lesson
    • enduring finding: strong correlation between cognitive investment, instructional style, and authenticity and student engagement
    • galileo network-involved schools demonstrated high success -they implement the tasks, make appropriate changes, and evaluate what happened (focus on teacher development)
    • shared and critiqued practice
    • scaffolding: feedback more than once, possible from more than one source
    • learner-, knowledge-, assessment-, and community-centered = most exemplary results
Inquiry and technology 1:1
Changed mindsets and changed technological contexts
  • changed ideas about knowledge, teaching, learning, and technology
  • result of disruptive technologies (see Rick Van Eck video posted below)
  • Blended, inter-active (collaborative), social, performance
  • groupings and how we organize students in the physical space
  • mobile, participatory, networked, dynamic
  • increase in connective and expressive capabilities
  • Papert: social constructivism
    • we have to engage children in producing external representations of their thinking
    • powerful ideas + children + computers = amazing learning

Inquiry, Technology and assessment: 3 significant shifts

Grade 8 Digital Story: Perspective, Self and World View
This is an amazing video. The language used is superb.

Great Learning Tasks:
  • are authentic
  • are active and participatory
  • are academically rigorous
  • connect beyond the school
  • use digital technologies
  • provide for elaboarte communication
  • use assessment for learning
Final Thoughts from Michele
Let learners know you believe in them.
Let learners know you will not give up on them or on yourself.

Find someone to be your mentor who challenge your practices, someone who will always tell you the truth.

Be 5 eyes
Interested and interesting, inspired and inspiring, idealistic.

Beware of cynical people that will try to snuff out your flame. The giggles that overcame the class demonstrated how we've all had these encounters already. Don't wear yourself out trying to change the cinicism, focus on the positive change.

Start out with just one inquiry project before December, and one before June. Create the culture in your class that supports it.

Love yourself, your colleagues, students, discipline, profession. And be a good colleague yourself. Invest in your professional development. Help students develop their passions and let them dislike things. It's not your job to make students like everything they are meant to learn. But hopefully they can take it up in a way that is meaningful to them.

Always be part of the solution, not the problem.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Student Inquiry Project Self-Assessment

Our SIP was adapted from a unit design already in IO. I think this alone was an important step for me because, for some reason, I have always had this idea that your lesson plans/ideas should be your own. It's kind of like how people think about plagiarism. But I've experienced this epiphany over the semester that I hope my peers have as well: you don't have to reinvent the wheel! And why should you when there are so many great ideas already out there? The point is to take them and make them work for you and your students. So I was glad that our group took this approach.

The core subject our project covered was grade 9 science which I was originally a bit uncomfortable with, coming from an early childhood perspective. However, I am so glad I did! It was fun doing more sophisticated work that challenged me more academically. The topic was so interesting for me. I think that this fulfilled a professional goal that I didn't even know I had: collaborate with teachers in different grades. Yes, we have different perspectives and very different ideas about assessment, but there is a lot we can learn from one another that can help bridge the gap for students too.

Technology is often thought to go hand-in-hand with science, however this often is not the case in schools. In contrast, science tends to focus more on experiential learning and non-digital forms of technology. I know this was definitely the case in my science courses at university. While this unit included a 3D representation of the chromosomes, it also provided the option of creating a digital version. This part of the project was useful for integrating art and graphic design. Because the technology provided students with several entry points, this was an effective use of it.

For our exemplar, we used a GoogleDoc to share our researched information and make notes to one another about what we had done and asked questions. This allowed us to work on the project at our own paces and keep up to date with what others were doing. Also, because we all had different schedules, we didn't have to arrange to meet in person or worry about several different copies of our work floating around.

I have realized through this project, and others over the semester, that there are so many possibilities for learning and developing when we collaborate. The different perspectives that we all bring to the table allow for creative ideas we never could have come up with on our own. It's exciting! I think the colleagial group needs to be in a continuous sway where, occasionally, each member will take on a heavier portion of the workload. Sometimes this depends on passions, interests, and specialities, while other times we just need to give someone a break.

Considering that I will eventually work in grades K-3, I don't see a lot of possibilities for this particular unit on DNA and Genetic mutations. However, I definitely see myself using the amazing resources in IO and, at the very least, following the guidlines about creating an engaging and meaningful inquiry project!

I'm grateful to my fantastic group for all their time and hard work! Go team!

Friday, April 8, 2011

It's almost over

It's almost over, and it's kind of scary and exciting at the same time! It's scary because we will be finished the formal part of our professional development. It's going to be on us now, as individuals, to make sure we take the time to continue to develop. I'll have to address this in my TPGP which is to follow as a course requirement. It's exciting because we've worked so hard and learned so much and now we are ready to apply this knowledge and work as teachers.

To open the class today, Michele reminded us to be kind to ourselves in our first attempts at inquiry in the classroom. It takes practice! Make sure you include students in your thinking about how to design activities and tasks. If you have them involved from the beginning they'll be right there with you throughout.
Inquiry is designed (at least) thrice!
MENTAL: powerful idea, question, issue, or problem
-students strive to exceed the expectations set by your exemplar
-liberating constraints where students feel challenged and supported
-listen for openings, misconceptions, possibilities
-summative assessment: why did it live out a particular way?

What do kids say is the biggest obstacle at school?
This site has a bunch of surveys with regard to students' technology use.

Discussion about the importance of reading:
David Bouchard's For the Love of Reading is a great resource for a Canadian perspective on the top 200 books every kid should read.

Rahat Naqvi, faculty of Education, also provides access to dual language books in many different languages on her website.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Exit Presentation

As part of our last semester in the Masters of Teaching program at the University of Calgary, we were asked to reflect on several questions about identity, challenges, inspirations, hopes and fears as we enter the teaching profession. I made this video to convey part of my presentation with an accompanying metaphor of a puzzle. While my puzzle picture is clearer than it was two years ago, there are still many pieces missing. I don't know that the full picture will ever appear. Should it? If it does, what does that mean?


Friday, April 1, 2011

Amy Park and Candace Saar Presentation on Assessment for Engaged Learning

What is the purpose of assessment in schools?
-feedback for students and their parents
-feedback for the teacher to reflect on practice
-it should all be formative assessment, except for the mark that has to go on the report card
-formative is usually informal, via conversation with the student
-it's the feedback that's useful for the learner, leads to growth
-analogous with coaching

John Hattie (New Zealand) and meta-analysis. What kinds of interventions have the biggest impact in improving student achievement? A: Feedback. Smaller class sizes only improved achievement slightly. Feedback had significant results (i.e. >0.4). It is the most powerful way to improve learning!

How do you teach children how to give eachother descriptive, helpful feedback?

Renaissance Project:
Based on watching the final product, what do the kids know?
-Technologies exist that are more analogue. While we have GPS, we don't "need" it.
-Things do not need to be digital to be considered technology
-vocabulary used is impressive
-geographical thinking
-language arts proficiency: organization, vocabulary
-argument for their perspective: persuasive language
-technology use, eg. timing for images, voice, and music
-deliberate choices in music, images, tone of voice, language

Rubric Building:
"Good job" is not enough information! (This reminds me of one of my favourite articles ever written: Five Reasons to stop saying 'good job' by Alfie Kohn)
A great discussion on breaking down the tasks into smaller, meaningful tasks. This is something that requires great skill from a teacher. Maybe this is one of the things that differs a teacher with pedagogical skill to a tutor?

(image source)

Wow! Amy Park is Super Teacher! Class blog, parent workshops on technology/meaningful feedback/guided reading, class website = the transparent classroom. Passing on this knowledge of pedagogical skill to parents is an investment for a teacher! Amy sends rubrics home for parents to identify areas of strengths for their children. Rubrics are to be used throughout a project, about once a week, to help students continue to improve.
Teach students to ask themselves: is that a helpful comment or a hurtful one? when giving peer feedback. Is it fair to have students investing their time and effort into a task without continuous feedback? How do you justify giving them a bad grade...or any grade at all?
When using student and teacher collaboratively designed rubrics, they get to use their language. Comments are specific and supportive of how much work students are putting in. I am wondering, does the rubric ever change over the course of the project? For example, if a group takes the project a step further and that is not covered anywhere on the rubric, will a place be created for it? I love the idea for Kindergarten about having student's faces printed off with velcro on the back so they can self-assess how invested they were that day on a continuum. Baby steps toward rubric building and self-assessment. I wonder if they could start the day with a goal and then assess where to go from there.

I'm intrigued by the idea of having group members with specific roles. After all, this is what happens in the real world. I'm thinking about lessons/projects I've done in my practicum placements and reflecting on how much better they would be with this aspect.

What a fantastic presentation today. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't feeling slightly overwhelmed but I think that's a good thing. If you do not look at teaching as an overwhelming, complex task, are you being realistic?

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Schooling Babies

Okay a lot of this information can also be found at Joe Bower's excellent blog. However I am compelled to share my ideas on all of this. If you are working in an early childhood environment or a parent to a young child, this should make your heart race: Why Preschool Shouldn't Be Like School by Alison Gopnik.

I am an ECE specialist and parent to a preschooler. He just turned 3 in January and I have already been asked, by a professional, if he has started reading yet. I promptly replied with another question: Why does a three year old need to read? Okay, I admit that it was completely rhetorical. I've just reached this point. Several of my friends have been swept up in this current of schooling babies, literally from birth, and frankly I don't understand it. I've even endured long emails from friends trying to convince me of the Your Baby Can Read program, with the argument that they will have a head start, a one-up if you will, on their peers when they start school (if you want to know my stance on this, see my Redshirting post below). This program is equivalent to Khan Academy's approach, just targeted to a younger audience. Am I the only one that finds this disturbing? In the words of Sir Ken Robinson, "Kindergarten starts in Kindergarten".

What I love about Gopnik's article is how she reminds us of the importance of creativity, play, and curiosity. Something as simple as faking our own curiosity and wonderment can become a pedagogical skill. I would argue that, by way of demonstrating how school is a place for curiosity to live out, we help children continue to engage in their natural inclinations to learn, discover, and question. Alternatively, by schooling them we can squash that creativity and natural curiosity, limiting it to an extra-curricular activity. Is all this worth having your child top of his/her Kindergarten class (if reading -decoding, not necessarily comprehension- is even of the utmost value there)?

(image source)

Or this:

(image source)

What do you choose? What would they choose?

Maybe the article should be called 'Why School Shouldn't Be Like School'.

Monday, March 28, 2011

My Top 5

It seems like you can't turn a blog page or roll over a twitter tweet these days without coming across a "top five 21st century skills" page. As the saying goes, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. So, here goes. After my two years in the U of C MT program, this is my top five list:

1. Critical Thinking and Analysing skills
As has been stated over and over in books, articles, and anywhere you look for current ideas on education, teachers are no longer gateways to information. We're in an information age where ideas and...well, information, bombard us from every angle. Our students have instant access to this through technology. Our jobs as teachers need to shift accordingly to provide students with ways to approach all this knowledge and information with a critical, analytical eye. It's about learning the stuff worth learning rather than just the stuff. It's also about agreeing to disagree and gaining perspective -a life skill in a global world.

2. Technological Savvy
Technology is today and it is the future. It changes so rapidly that sometimes it's overwhelming. I don't see this as meaning that, as a teacher, you have to keep up with the latest, greatest tools. That's what ed researchers and grad students are for! However, students will need these skills in the future so we need to incorporate as much *useful* technology into their learning as possible and be open to their ideas about using technology. I wonder what students could come up with on the learning benefits and curricular ties of some video games? Furthermore, technology often cuts down on rudimentary tasks and provides openings for diverse representations of learning.

3. Growth Mindset
Boy, Carol Dweck is never going to live this one down...not that she would want to. After reading Dweck's book last year I haven't been able to get her ideas out of my head. It's one of those things where you go around assessing people in the grocery store; you suddenly think you have all this perspective. Instead of just focusing on confidence building, which can often be misconstrued as simply overpraising children, teachers can focus on developing students' growth mindsets. This is tied into being a 21st century skill because of how rapidly our world is changing, both with technology and the environment. Students with growth mindsets have been shown to be more resilient in the face of change.

4. Collaborative skills
This is kind of a no-brainer and is probably on everyone else's top five. Two minds are better than one...better yet, 5 minds are better than one. Great minds don't think alike and they do amazing things together. Technology has broken cultural, linguistic, and geographical barriers, leading to globalization. What an exciting time to be a student...and teacher!

5. Ecological Awareness
For some reason, I've spent a very long time with the assumption that environment is not heavily related to formal education. It seems ridiculous now that I'm writing it (and actually I'm kind of embarrassed). I am a huge recycler, use chemical free cleaners in my house, drive a fuel efficient car when needed, and walk to university everyday. Heck, I even compost. Yet, somehow I didn't make a very strong connection between the environment and teaching. Well I am tearing down this barrier like a Berlin wall! I'm ready to move beyond recycling. 21st century learners are too! It's about being proactive, not reactive. Reactive measures still have a place but they can no longer suffice as the sole objective of ecological education. Composting, naturalization projects, and lobbying, oh my!

Well, that's that. What do you think? What's in your top five?

Friday, March 25, 2011

Comic Life Presentation

Comic Life

I really like the way comic life gives so much freedom for creative expression. They way you can change colours, shapes, pictures, etc. makes it personalized and you know you won't get a single one that looks the same as another. When I've used comic life, I've enjoyed the way it allows me to choose items and designs that reflect my tone, mood, and other feelings.

What an interesting idea: storyboarding! Good point about how artistically "challenged" (i.e. in physically drawing something) people can still express creative ideas by using comic life.
Can Comic Life only operate on a Mac? No! On their website they have Mac and PC options! How is it published? Can it be uploaded somewhere for remote access?

Quite possibly my favourite thing about Comic Life is how accessible and engaging it is for all age levels! Okay, Kindergarten might be a stretch but I have seen it used successfully with Grade one. How could it be used in Kindergarten?

This is too cool not to mention. On the break before this presentation, I was on my phone checking in on the twitter activity. Neil Stephenson had tweeted about the inquiry blog from Calgary Science School  so I clicked on it to check out some of their stuff. I pulled up the most recent one with a cartoon picture. I just started to read when our presenters began. Low and behold, the presenters ended up on the same page to discuss an example of how to use Comic Life! We're now replicating the process!

Picasa. I don't understand yet why you need this. Can't you just use any photo uploader? You can alter the photos there. For example, you can use soft focus.

Thank you guys! Comic Life has so many possibilities!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Protein Pancakes

Okay, I had to really think about how I could justify posting a recipe on an ed blog and here's what I came up with:

1. Teacher self-care -we all know how much better we are with some wholesome food (and, admittedly, a cup of coffee) in our bodies as we start the day.

2. Health units -How could this recipe be used, or even better, modified by students?

3. Everybody loves pancakes!

So here it is. My mom modified these from a couple recipes and please trust me, they are DELICIOUS.

1/3 cup low sodium cottage cheese
1 tbsp. ground flax
1 egg
1 egg white
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 ripe banana, sliced
1 scoop vanilla or chocolate protein powder

Throw everything into a food processor till smooth. Refrigerate batter for 3 min. Lightly grease your pan if needed. You know the rest!

Makes about 5 fabulous (and gluten free) pancakes.

Friday, March 18, 2011

iMovie and WebQuest


I love how they used Jing for their tutorial and actually showed us how to do it. This is so much more effective than just showing us a final projected and telling us what they did.
Windows has movie maker as an equivalent. Make sure to check out the online tutorials for both.
If you can drop and drag, then you can use iMovie!
On digital storytelling: technology use can make the experience deeper and more real
Some ideas: communicating with parents/families, creating instructional videos, growing plants, field trips...

Other ways to use iPods in the classroom: research, access to Smart response tools, getting music
Dropbox app: online place to drop your files, similar to Google Docs -free download on
How is this different from Google Docs? It's great that there are other options. I guess you wouldn't have to create an email account with Dropbox, as you do with Google. Thanks Katie, for bringing up Locker which is used by several school boards as part of D2L.

I think iMovie presents great opportunities for ECE!!! Storytelling, story sharing, drama, etc.


What is a WebQuest?
An inquiry-oriented lesson format, focused on questioning and critical thinking. All resources are preselected. By who? If students are supposed to do critical thinking, why can't they go through the process of selecting resources? Main purpose is to promote higher level thinking. Go to Jen or Bob's blog to get the URL.

How can I make a WebQuest? is highly recommended. Free 30 day membership. Millions of WebQuests that you can change and use, similar to IO. So, what i sthe difference between this and IO? IO is more expensive...
Each section has a checkpoint at the end to help you. Search engine with kid friendly sites only, which non-members can access.

Students need a problem that creates some uncertainty and doubt. Set up constraints but give them freedom to express their ideas in ways of their choices.

Quest Atlantis
Wanted to make a video game with academic content that went beyond drill and practice. Is this the evolution of WebQuest? Has avatars and a lot like Second Life. It's a windows based program and freezes up a lot on a Mac. The point is, there is a quest! You have to gather information from different sources but it's all internal in the program. So you talk to characters in the game but the program is really secure. Bob and Jen had to fill out an application to have access. Furthermore, they cannot speak or interact with other students.
Thank you guys, this is great information for my Independent Inquiry! Oh wait, it's reading based...that makes sense since they have a recommended age level of grade 3 and up. That's too bad. I wonder if there's a way around beign able to click on something that will read it out loud.
Are the games organized by age? I think some of the language and content is above grade three level.
They provide you with a log (word document!) of all the information you've accessed. This allows modification and is, of course, printable.
I like the complexity of having many different players with different goals that are sometimes based on finances, hierarchies, environment, etc. They all try to convince you of their stories. I love how this really relates to the real world and critical thinking skills. Students need to learn how to make these educated decisions in real life! This gives them exposure to the fact that people have different agendas and how they need to constantly step outside of their own shoes to take different perspectives. What a great life skill!
It's great that, at the end, the program asks them to form their own opinion. We struggle with this even at the university level! Well I do anyway... It's actually a difficult task when you've taken the time to truly understand different perspectives.
Having students make mistakes and go back to figure it out is a very effective way to learn. Michele brought this back to constructivist, cognitive theories. This made me think of the appeal of video games, and how people have to fail over and over to finally achieve their goal (next level). And Michele further pointed out how interesting it is that each level is harder! We (human beings) love challenge. In gaming, we know that the challenge is appropriate because we've worked our way up gradually. Games are developmentally appropriate and within a player's zone of proximal development! Teachers struggle with this daily. Should we change our teaching to be more like a video game? hmmm...

Great point brought up about research being done on getting kids to design games. This is too much for a teacher to be able to handle in a classroom! It is a lot of work. Use those that are already there!

Thank you guys, this was great!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Another exciting Inquiry and Technology class!

Xtranormal: This is so fun! But wait, when does fun and entertainment become learning? This is a constant challenge for me in ECE. We know that children learn best through play, but when is play justified and when is it not? I love how xtranormal has different languages. We are currently getting into a lot of bilingual books to support multilingualism and multiculturalism, and I never even thought about these programs and their potential for this! What about in language learning classes too!

Goanimate. We didn't get to see this in action today but apparently it's similar to other animation programs. Animoto too. Lara did one with pictures and it only took about 15 minutes. See class webpage.

Garage Band
What is the value in this for learning? When does it become more than entertainment (particularly in early childhood classrooms)?
I can see how a music teacher might use this, but I'm struggling to think of ways it could be used in the regular classroom. In our little group, Erin had an idea about how it could be used in math. Counting the bars is a visual way of using fractions. In that sense we thought it could be incorporated into a math lesson.

Why use podcasting in education?
Podcasting is very aesthetic and can be used to share information and ideas. Juice is a software that allows you to create podcasts on your PC. iTunes will also allow you.
GarageBand podcasts: You can record separate voices and then put them together later. After a recording you can edit out any mistakes, "dead air" moments, etc. When you're finished, make sure to save it as an mp3 file for more versatility. Podcasts can upload directly to iTunes.

Podomatic: I'm realizing the potential for this in helping students at home. What if we can create these podcasts for students to access at home for extra tutoring in a particular area. This idea comes from a recent founding of Khan Academy. At Khan they record podcasts with visuals to teach math and science concepts from K-university levels. They purport that this can change the face of education in the sense that they do this learning at home with the podcast and do the "homework" at school with teacher support. I can really see how this enhances student learning. (Check out Get off your butt and ride's blog for the video lesson). Good for teaching students about copyrights because legal "mumbo-jumbo" includes examples making it easier to understand. You can google free music for podcasting. These are usually indie bands trying to get their music out there. Michele made a great point about how we can over come these copyright issues by making our own music in GarageBand!!!

The difference between a task and an activity? I have never thought about this! So, an activity is something that doesn't really have an outcome, similar to our Student showcases. It's informative but there's no real product. A task is similar to the Great Tasks we did. It leads to a product of learning and involves specific assessment. See IO for more information.

Arts Smart: 21st Century Skills, Creative Inquiry Process (see article posted on Class Webpage)
  • Use this article for Independent Inquiry!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Critical Pedagogy in Kindergarten?

I recently joined a book club that explores teaching resources. Each week someone from the group volunteers to guest blog about the chapter we're on and the rest of us respond. In the spirit of 'going out on a limb' to add richness to my experience with this book, I volunteered to guest post. You can witness the bravery here. What I got out of this was immense. The particular chapter I got to explore was filled with reminders of so much of the theoretical knowledge we had learned in our classrooms at university. It was comforting to be reminded of the optimism that exists in educational theory. In our first year, we were in practicums only two days a week, and our actual teaching was limited. While on campus, we experienced intense discussions about theory and how it can live out in classrooms, interpreting the things we've seen in our placements, and, essentially, trying to bridge the gap between theory and practice.

During spring and summer we had no classes, or placements. A lucky few of us found work that had something to do with working with children, while some of us stuck with waiting tables. Four months of this, and we were thrown back into schools, this time four days a week. Of course, many of us were really excited to be back working with children. However, what has happened to all that theory we learned a lot about but in all honesty rarely saw? I can only speak for myself at this point, but it was very difficult, when surrounded by the commonplace methods and practices of teaching, to apply, or even remember, much of the theory we learned in the previous year. Our one day a week on campus served as a forum for our instructor to share more practical information, which we deeply appreciated and needed, and for us to share our stories about children we'd fallen in love with, who puzzled us, and made us excited about teaching.

I LOVED my placement and it broke my heart to have to leave at the end of the semester. Interestingly, I think this love blinded me to the theory I had once loved also. It's so easy to fall into the routine and commonplace practices and leave the theory behind to scholars and researchers. Now that I've come back to university, and particularly through the explorations of this book, Making Learning Whole by David Perkins, I am remembering all those important lessons.

One of these, which I rediscovered in Chapter five of the book, is Critical Pedagogy (crit ped). I remember learning about it in our Semester 2 lectures by Brent Davis, and in the associated text book Engaging Minds by Davis, Sumara & Luce-Kapler (one of the best, if not the best, educational theory books I have ever read). Back then I wondered about crit ped's place in early childhood, and here I am a year later with the same question! When you have a classroom full of students that cannot yet read, say in Kindergarten, how do you practice crit ped without the fear that you're essentially just brainwashing them to think the way you do? You choose what to read to them and how to read it. Very rarely are children of this age able to articulate their response(s) to text. Heck, even adults have difficulties with this. So how can this be encouraged?

I found a very inspiring article about this from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) by Jeffrey Wood. Lucky me, it involved a Kindergarten class too! I was deeply inspired by this teacher's bold aspirations for building critical literacy (crit lit) skills among his early literacy students. In particular, the way this teacher started out his school year with questions, not only about his mandated curriculum but, about how he could support his students' learning with crit lit and how this could lead to social justice actions. WOW! Social justice Kindergarten! To tie this in with Making Learning Whole,there is a junior game of social justice that might be played here which Wood eventually discovers. Wood sums up a lot of crucial points in one statement: "Critical literacy is not only a type of pedagogy that is different from a more traditional approach, it is a different worldview that transforms teaching and the way we, students and teacher, see and interact with the world". What an incredible goal for teachers! And yet, somehow, it is not overwhelming. On the contrary, a lot of the traditional methods are (for me anyway). I think this is because crit ped isn't just interesting or important for students, parents, or administrators. The work becomes important and life changing for the teacher too, challenging our perspectives and ways of thinking about people and the world. In a lot of ways it's a ground shaking undertaking.

One of the big take-home messages of this article isn't just about crit lit, but teacher disposition and self-awareness. This leads me to another big theme of my theoretical explorations in teaching: Integral Theory (IT). From the little I know about IT, I recall that it emphasizes a holistic approach and strong self-awareness on behalf of the teacher. That is, you become ever more aware of yourself (eg. words, actions, subtleties, etc.) in order to improve your teaching. This isn't meant to create a self-centered teacher, although I suspect there's a danger there. This evolving awareness has the potential to lead to some incredible intentional teaching by avoiding a lot of unintentional teaching that happens automatically -sort of like how babies learn language. Perkins talks about this also, referring to it as tacit learning.

Lastly, I love the way crit ped works with the NAEYC's recent statement about Developmentally Appropriate Practice (DAP). In particular, the social and cultural contexts in which children live is directly relevant to crit ped and the culture that Wood and his class created.

In the spirit of crit lit I must ask, how feasible is all this for a first year teacher?

Friday, March 4, 2011

CCSD Presentation on Educational Technology

Today we have a presentation from the Calgary Catholic School district on Educational Technology...

Teaching Digital Natives -Marc Prensky
-collaborative knowledge building

Pedagogy Continuum -reflective practice
I think it's interesting that the continuum presents a rule of thumb in level three "no more minutes per lecture than the grade level". How does that work for Kindergarten?

Capacity building? I didn't catch what exactly is meant by "capacity" here. I'm gathering that it represents growth and knowledge building.

TPACK model: balance between content, technological and pedagogical knowledge.
Online collaborations via blogs and wikis dependent on specific school teams and what they want to work on.

Big 4 Jigsaw Activity: Classroom Management, Content Planning, Instruction, Assessment for learning
How are all these areas impacted by technology?
Classroom Management: We have to consider self-management with technology around. What is "on task"?
How can you tap into the students' technology use for your teaching purposes?
We DESIGN lessons!
Content Planning: Lesson Progression Maps
Should it be working around the text books/resources? Is there something else that can guide your planning?
Program of Studies!
Instruction: Get creative! What is focused imagining?
Assessment for Learning: Love the Rubric creator
"Assessment is like a traffic light because it tells you where to start" -Dale Armstrong

The Snowball Effect
-provide students with the opportunity to choose modes of technology that work for them and their vision
Engagement strategies -modeling for teachers rather than talking at them in AISI meetings
Assistive technology: tools -low tech (paper, pencils, scissors, etc.) to mid tech (calculators, voice recorders, neos, etc.), to high tech (Premier assistive technology software -used by CCS and RVS)
-keyboarding very important skill for LD students especially
-get your support people involved (AISI leaders, OTs, resource teachers)
Be positive and build the relationships!
Universal Design for Learning: how am I speaking? Combine speaking with tech and visual support.
  • support and challenge
  • what is my goal?
  • what barriers might interfere?
  • representation: multiple methods
  • action and expression: models, feedbacks, and supports
  • multiple means of engagement (entry points)
  • always keep learning goal in mind
Make sure to read the Making a Difference document from Alberta Ed.

Digital Citizenship
Bishop Carrol website:
A lot of digital content is not allowed in class. The highly recommended digital resources are put into the coac site. Public Performance Rights need to be there to legally play the media in class.
Coac site allows you to search via grade level. The search results provide you with a synopsis, grades and subject area applicability. They are all cached so you don't have to worry about network clogging/failures. Basically, anything you access via Learn Alberta is safe territory.

Rubrics provide students with a framework: an ending point, starting point, where and how to improve. If you're only assessing the final project, you are setting students up for potential acts of plagiarism. Assessment has to happen throughout!

It's not about the technology, it's about the way we engage students in meaningful learning!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Great Task Self-Assessment

Overall our task on Naming the West went very well. I strengthened my skill in using Google Docs, including creating a form for peer feedback and using their spreadsheet application to chart the reliability of websites. This last part was also a new learning from Neil Stephenson and I was glad to have had some practice at it. I also learned about how to make a website via Google. The completion of this task has lead to an increase in my ability to easily access useful technology, depending on what my task is. Furthermore, I have gained insight into how inquiry unfolds and the many ways that such projects can connect to the Program of Studies and the ICT outcomes.

In doing this task our group sometimes wondered if we were using enough technology. In discussing this we realised that we were vulnerable to falling into the classic trap of using technology just for the sake of using it. I think I learned a valuable lesson about this because we then became critical of our own use of technology, constantly asking do we really need it? In terms of collaboration, the Google Docs were really amazing. I cannot say enough about how much this tool has changed the way groups can collaborate. We rarely needed to meet in person, and worked on the project on our own time. I believe that it allowed us to do way more work in a shorter time just because we didn't have to arrange for the face to face meetings.

My initial frustration with the task was that it was really huge. It was difficult to break it down and decide when to stop. Are we doing too much? Too little? How much is enough? I think this is a question that persists into teaching though. At the end of the day, nobody is going to come into your classroom and tell you that you've done enough. You need to know where to draw those lines. It was a lot more comfortable when we decided exactly what we were going to do and delegated the tasks.

In contributing to the group, one of my strengths was in keeping up the communication. I felt that I was constantly available, replied quickly to any requests, and emailed once I had finished any component so the rest of the group could look it over. One thing that I might do differently next time, is focus more on diverse learning needs. I think we got very caught up in the task and forgot to teach it to a hypothetical class.

Overall, I think our group did fantastic and I'm very happy with our work. It was thoughtfully carried out and everyone pulled their weight. Yay team!

The Value of Peer Review

Today we shared our Great Task projects with other groups in the class and were subjected to peer review. I felt really confident entering this process because our group had been very thorough and worked hard. This means that our peer feedback, rather than referring to more surface issues, was deep and rich with ideas that we had never thought of. For example, we never thought about how our task failed to leave enough room for formative assessment. This brings up the point about how we did not clearly state how we would use our assessment rubric (i.e. formative/summative).

Another interesting perspective that was brought up had to do with diversity. Our task originated in a small Alberta town and, therefore, lacked the kind of multicultural depth that Calgary classrooms have. This really stood out to another student, making us realize that we might make explicit more comprehensive modifications to our task work to include diverse populations.

These are just examples of how peer feedback has been beneficial for our group. Some other great points that were brought up in class related to how it's fun, offers a fresh look at something, leads to the improvement of work, and more. From the student perspective, when approched with care and developmentally appropriate language, I think the peer feedback process has great potential to help children connect on academic levels. Children are really good at making social connections based on their interests and personalities, however they less often require an academic connection. What implications can strong socio-academic connections have on their future learning?

One of my main goals in early childhood is to help students connect to one another in this way. That is, to get children to consider one another as academic peers that are able to share knowledge with the understanding that the teacher is not the filter for all useful/correct information. Older children understand this more and more intuitively as they become familiar with technology. Younger children, however, find it very difficult to move from an adult-centered type of learning, to one that often relies on peers. Obviously the teacher still has an important role, and Kindergarten children will not always have a collective answer. However, this is where the beginning steps take place to open up the community and the knowledge that lives within it. A space where children begin to become comfortable sharing their ideas, rather than right vs. wrong answers. I love the way the peer review process fosters this academic relationship building experience.

Our Great Task was taken from the Galileo website with the title Naming the West. We completed the first part of the original task and invite further feedback via the Peer Feedback page:

Friday, February 11, 2011

Redshirting @ School

My son is only three, but we're already thinking about which school he's going to go to and when. Having a January baby gives you the classic double-edged sword: we get to choose if we want him to start kindergarten when he's four or five. Sometimes it's just easier not to have the choice! Or, does it really matter?

I once visited a Kindergarten class where there was a boy that, upon initial interactions and having no background information, I perceived to be well above the rest of the class intellectually. In commenting on this boy's superior knowledge base and abilities in the classroom, I was informed that he is repeating Kindergarten. This decision was made solely by the family, against the advice of the teacher. Sure enough, in the months to come, this child was clearly becoming bored. Yes, he could read better than his peers, was physically bigger, and produced more impressive work. But what did it all mean? It all lead to a conversation about his family's choice to hold him back. In questioning their reasoning, I came to somewhat of a redshirting conclusion myself.

I guess I'll never know. He ended up spending about an hour a day in a grade one class anyway. My guess is that next year he'll be spending an hour in a grade two room, and so on...

In making this decision for my child, I'm shooting for engagement. In general, he's more engaged by older children and their ideas so why not put him with these children, even though he'll be the youngest and smallest. Heck, maybe he'll even be one of the smartest. Ultimately, if teachers are cultivating truly inclusive classrooms with developmentally appropriate practice, all students can grow and learn.

The Problem with Holding Kids Back from Kindergarten (until they're bigger and smarter) by Kristina Dell:

Student Showcase on Prezi

Today we had the opportunity to present on a new presentation tool: Prezi
Throughout the process of creating this presentation, I learned a lot about Prezi and gained experience in working with it so that I became more efficient with it. I think this will help me if I'm using it with students one day.

As the three of us approached this topic, we were able to brainstorm some out of the box ways to use Prezi. The one that I chose to focus on was assessment, mainly because I'm really passionate about it and I think it's so incredibly important. I attempted to use Prezi as a means of documentation for student learning. In retrospect, I probably should have mentioned this specifically, rather than just putting it under the big banner of "assessment". That's just my early childhood-centricness coming out again. In ECE a lot of the work students create is highly visual and involves way less text. I failed to view this assessment piece from a secondary perspective which may not have demonstrated such successful usefulness. That said, I was glad to see how Jennifer was pondering its use in secondary art teaching.

Ultimately, it's not that I think Prezi should be used for assessment, but that it can in many cases. I really enjoy its possibilities, however, in creating showcases for parent-teacher interviews. I hope that we were able to provide the group with enough useful information to begin playing with Prezi and avoiding a lot of the frustrating pitfalls!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Jing, Calgary Public Library, KeepVid

How can you get your students focused on proper research tools for an inquiry project?

E-library databases: library pays for them, you have access through your library card membership
  • student research center: teacher resources (incl. ERIC), curriculum Standards for Canada
Jing: screen capturing (including sound)
  • tutorial for students that they can access whenever, go at their own pace (pause, rewind)
  • good for PD? (I thought of this during the presentation. This could be used to record your teaching and reflect.)
  • tutorials on the site
Newspaper Direct Press Display (CPL)
  • many languages
  • reliable
  • can click on specific countries to find their newpapers
  • get different perspectives
  • RSS feeds
  • Interactive Radio: involove your ESL students for translating
The Free Dictionary (see Lucy's blog)

  • copy/paste video URL
  • similar to Delicious but in video format
  • saves onto your computer and doesn't require internet access to play
  • can save onto USB
  • not affected by school firewalls
  • plays in iTunes
Awesome, useful presentation! Thanks guys!

Presentation on Techonology in Second Language teaching

How does technology support second language learning in schools?
What does it enable us to do that we couldn't do before?
  • FL Teach website
  • Blogs/Wikis: interactive way for parents, administrators to be involved in learning.
  • E-book: Can click on words for translation, some can read to you
  • Webcam/camera: digital storytelling, peer assessment, Skype
  • 24/7 tutor app: iPad, iPhone, free! 
  • CD's in french
  • audio clips of teacher's voice
They have tons of links on their website, posted on the SIPS class forum. Thanks guys!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Great Links from Neil's Presentation

Neil's blog (incl. book club, inquiry, twitter feeds to follow, etc.):

On Knowledge Building:

Technology doesn't swim itself!

Oh boy, where should I start...I got a lot out of this presentation by Neil Stephenson from an inquiry and professional development stand point.

Online book club -How wonderful to be able to read books that pertain to your professional development with a group of like-minded people that have chosen to read that book as well. I know that a lot of teachers in divisions will decide to all read the same book, however some people are more on board than others. I think I will join this book club as I'm really interested in that book.

Twitter -I've been avoiding the addition of yet another social networking tool but it seems I haven't given Twitter a fair chance. I will, at some point, jump on this bandwagon now that I can see its potential for global professional development opportunities. It's great to know that I can start at Stephenson's webpage to find interesting people to follow.

Technology -Needless to say, I loved the phrase about technology not swimming itself (had to be there). One question that Neil posed really resonated with me: How is the technology helping students think differently? I don't think I can answer that right now and perhaps it's more of a contextual thing. However, I will try to approach future tasks involving technology with this in the back of my mind. Of course the demonstration using the Google Docs was great to see and it was nice to have some answers to questions that I had from our last presentation, i.e. how can you get access for students to google docs without having to set up gmail accounts for all of them?

Inquiry -Loved the resources provided (What did you do in school today?(2009), Liberating Constraints, Sumara, Knowledge Building Communities article) and the idea of creating a learning situation where students need what other students know. Once again, the notion of reflective practice was emphasized...hence this blog as well :) Another great reminder was the role of the experts and how powerful it can be to connect your students to experts.

Favourite -I really loved how the big inquiry project example related to ECE in that teaching is storytelling. Stories are engaging for people of all ages and I loved seeing how this can play out in a higher grade. Can Twilight play a role in high school curriculums? Can all learning be seen through a storytelling lens?

Take-home message -Teaching is the art of asking the right questions.

Need more info -Participatory learning/teaching

Friday, January 21, 2011

GoogleDocs Presentation

GoogleDocs! Where have you been all my (academic) life??? What a wonderful tool. Some of the stand-out moments for me this morning follow:
Forms: Anything that makes my life easier is excellent. I love the way the forms automatically organize themselves with a time stamp. Personally, if I can type feedback, you're going to get way more out of me. That's why having a questionaire in Google Forms is appealing.
Earth: This is something that I already knew about but had conveniently forgotten. Now that it's been reintroduced, I'm pondering its potential in the classroom. I *love* that it's free!
Docs: I'm in love. What an excellent collaborative tool for teachers and students alike. I also appreciated Michele's idea about giving an adminstrator access. As probationary status teachers that need someone to provide us with evaluations, Google Docs could be a great way of keeping your administrator(s) in the loop. The fact that it can be accessed at any time is highly convenient and you don't have to concern yourself with USBs.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Getting Excited

Well, I'm finally here. I've known for a while that I really need to improve my technological savvy and I'm well on my way with this course. I'm really excited to see the newest technologies that can be used in teaching and particularly interested in considering their potential in an early childhood setting. I need some more ideas on how the early childhood classroom can provide students with useful access to technology, how that can be achieved, and to what extent it should. It's obvious, from literature and personal experience, that young children are easily engaged in learning when technology is being used and when they have access to that technology. That said, I also feel that there are a lot of inappropriate ways to use technology, such as simply replacing the chalk board with a smart board.

I'm excited about the possibilities for using technology to connect parents to their children's learning and connect students to their communities. Let the journey begin!