Summary of Learning

Well, the time has come for my experience in ECMP455 to come to an end, but my connections with educators online is just getting started. I regret letting myself have a slow start in this class as coming back to university after being a student-teacher for four months was extremely difficult. I am more than happy to say it was well worth it, and I learned so much in this class and interacted with individuals around the world that I never would have met if I wasn’t introduced to Twitter.

In ECMP455 the most important thing I took out of the class is understanding the importance of collaboration, sharing, and asking for resources or assistance online. I have always been fully aware of Twitter and blogging but I honestly did not know how to properly use them, so therefore I felt like I had no interest in it. Because of this class I have come in contact with so many people around the world, shared resources, learned from them, and actually helped them learn! Which is really exciting, and I wouldn’t have had that opportunity if it weren’t for social networking and building our Personal Learning Network. Tweet Deck has helped me follow #saskedchat, #slowmathchat, and has helped me collaborate with these particular educators willing to help me as well. BlueJeans and Blackboard Collaborate were extremely cool, being able to meet online, hear audio, see visuals, meeting with people without having to be in one classroom at the university. I also really enjoyed FlipGrid (which you’ll see in the video below), great way of getting responses from people, sharing them, and being able to capture that information using Screencastify. I learned about so many great tools throughout ECMP455 , I am so grateful for this class and cannot wait to use what I’ve learned in my classroom!

Take a look at my group’s video about what we all took away from ECMP455!

Erase Limitations

Screen Shot 2015-04-06 at 5.04.15 PMAs a preservice teacher I wanted to share an inspiring video shared by Think Inclusive via Twitter earlier today. A bright, passionate, intelligent young lady by the name of Megan Bomgaars spoke up to educators about how the biggest disservice in allowing her in our classroom would be if we limit her capabilities. I think it is extremely important for teachers to get to know their learners, get to know the skills, talents, and dreams each one possesses. Deciding who can or cannot learn in our classroom validates our inabilities to meet the needs of all of our learners, it does not accurately determine the capabilities of each student.

Megan makes an excellent point that it isn’t our job as teachers to only teach subject-based outcomes to our students, we should also be teaching transferable skills and behaviors for them to take away with them and use outside of school. Teachers cannot limit their students by deciding who is permanently dependent of others or lowering the expectations of anyone. Some goals may be harder to reach or may take longer to accomplish, but nonetheless every student should have the same opportunity to be successful and should receive necessary assistance and guidance to do so. My favorite quote from Megan’s video was, “Teach me respect. Respect is give and take”; along with life skills, teaching independence, safety, and a strong voice to speak up is essential. If we practice exclusion in our classrooms, we are deliberately teaching our students that this is OK in society as well and they will take that behavior into their lives outside of school.

Good teachers teach and learn with their students”, another golden message from Megan. In education we always preach the importance of acceptance and inclusion of all cultures, suggesting culturally diverse students should teach the class about their history and culture. This is an excellent idea, so why don’t we take into the consideration the thought of classmates or peers with disabilities speaking to students without disabilities about their successes or struggles as well. No information is more accurate than when it comes from that particular individual themselves, and if a safe, accepting classroom environment is created from day one this type of conversation can be extremely powerful.

I have always been a strong advocate for Inclusive Education, and this final semester of my university career has fueled that fire even more. Between my Ed Psychology course, ECMP learning project, and my new Inclusive Ed family on Twitter, I feel even more passionate and comfortable about ensuring inclusion exists within my future classroom.

Please watch the video below and see how Megan’s powerful message can inspire you! Just remember, erase all limitations.

FB In MC

Some of you may have heard about the teacher, Dave Martin, from Red Deer, Alberta who has abolished marking students throughout a term and only assigns a grade based on the outcomes they have reached by the end of the course. This topic has been popular in the news lately and it was first brought to my attention in my Math Education course when we were shown the newspaper article online just over a month ago. This week we had the opportunity to Skype Dave into our university class, ask questions, and have him go over in more detail how he runs his classroom and how he is successful with his altered marking scheme.

After our conversation he invited us to keep in touch with him, and provided us with his twitter handle and blog if we need any help or resources in the future. As I was looking through his blog I came across a post about how he has incorporated the use of Facebook into his math classes. Martin created a class specific group to allow weekly math discussions to talk place outside of class, and made it a requirement to have the question/prompt answered online. The bonus to this FB group is that students ended up using it to ask for help on weekends, but if Martin could not answer soon enough other students were able to step up and help teach other, “My students were becoming teachers”, Martin stated.

The integration of social media had its precautions, but students monitored themselves and took this Facebook group seriously. It allowed for open discussion outside of class that normally wouldn’t exist, and students found themselves to be more creative, enjoying trying new things without worrying about losing marks. FB was also a means of catching up on missed content instead of having to wait until their next class.

I normally would have never thought of implementing Facebook of all social websites into my math class, however, Dave Martin has shown an incredibly beneficial example of how well it fits. I am extremely grateful to have been able to hear of his teaching and grading approach and would personally love to look into heading in that same direction in the future.

Homework + Grades = Yes/No

Screen shot 2015-04-06 at 10.42.14 AMDuring one of the #slowmathchat Twitter chats Michael Fenton posed the question, “How (if at all) does homework count towards a student’s overall grade in your class?”.
Amongst the many replies, suggestions, and ideas that educators shared in reply to Fenton’s tweet, I came across a video by Rick Wormeli speaking on how much homework should count.


This video was extremely inspiring, emphasizing how significantly homework completion can affect students’ marks, and not necessarily accurate or for the better. I chose to look into this topic a little further and present to my EMTH class at university. I compiled various resources for and against grading homework, and proposed the question to my peers. Overall, the main ‘for‘ was aimed around attaching responsibility and consequence to complete/incomplete assignments in school. However, many articles I found and conversations I had agreed with the idea that homework is practice, that when the necessary work is put in it will reflect in the final assessment. Lower a student’s grade who shows 90% understanding of the content when assessed simply because they didn’t hand in two homework assignments is essentially grading their behavior and work ethic, not understanding of an outcome.

That being said, I definitely found myself grading homework assignments and keeping track of homework completions in my grade book during my internship. My beliefs on grading homework have definitely changed due to this twitter chat and am extremely thankful for the suggestions other educators contributed to the chat. I love having my teaching philosophy challenged with evidence and reasoning to support students’ learning.

What role does homework play in your classroom?

“A Place For Your Interests”

This week one of my colleagues posted a link to her newly created webpage, a place where she can organize and access all websites, files, blogs, or pictures she would normally bookmark and lose track of. Looking deeper into the webpage I decided to create one of my own with Pearl Trees.

Pearl Trees lets youScreen Shot 2015-03-29 at 6.52.12 PM organize websites, blogs, and files individually to store in one location, as well as creating collections of similar topics. On my pearl tree page I have various webpages, youtube videos, apps stored on my main page, as well as collections for my personal social media sites, my learning project resources, and mathematical/educational blogs and websites. I find this site to be extremely handy as I have all of my main sites for university and every day browsing at the click of a finger now, no more searching! A few other bonuses are that it allows you to download an app for your phone (iPhone or Android) and now if I’m not on my laptop I can still add sites to my PearlTree page while I’m on my handheld device. Second bonus, feeding Screen Shot 2015-03-29 at 6.54.26 PMoff of my last blog post, is that it also comes with a Google Chrome extension. So no matter what site or blog I’m reading about, I simply click the extension (blue star symbol) and select to add this webpage to Pearl Tree; just like bookmarking but much more organized!

 

Help Create Communities Without Barriers

Yesterday I tweeted out an incredible video highlighting an Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 2.29.09 PMinspirational moment where a community gathered together to learn American Sign Language to make one of their locals feel welcome, important, and accepted. I honestly was holding back tears throughout this entire clip, but it goes to show how powerful actions can speak to those who may struggle with barriers in an everyday community.

I came across this video through the hashtag #asl on Twitter and needed to retweet it out as well as share it on my blog to help advocate for Inclusive Education and more importantly Inclusive Communities. This led me to follow Community Inclusion, Community Living, and Nicole Eredics (talks about classroom inclusion) on Twitter.

I am also taking an Education Psychology 400 class that focuses on differences and diversities in the classroom, which is what initially inspired me to learn ASL. A huge part of my philosophy of education is inclusive education as I strongly believe every individual in school, and our communities in this case, deserve to be involved and supported to any extent needed.

Please watch this video and comment any thoughts you had on what this community did for a man with a hearing impairment. What can you do to help make your community inclusive?

Absolutely moving, take a look:

http://ti.me/1C6vVVo

Endless Wonders of Google

Ever since I learned how to properly use a computer and access the internet, the largest browser and ‘answer key’ I relied on was Google. It was my go-to for finding information for essays, images for projects, and answers to many of my spur of the moment questions.

Throughout many of my university courses I was introduced to Google Docs and encouraged to collaborate and work with my peers through this Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 1.53.12 PMcomponent of Google. Google Docs allows me to create, share, and edit the same Word document, powerpoint presentation, spreadsheet document, etc. that my classmates can potentially be working on from their homes at the exact same time. When I was introduced to this a few years ago I was absolutely amazed with the convenience of group assignments Google Docs provided me and all other students. The home base to store and organize these documents is through Google Drive found on the home page.

Aside from your traditional Gmail accounts or Google Maps tools, I have learned about so many more wonders Google provides for its users. Take Google Play for instance; I came across this only a month ago when I was able to purchase a book online for one of my classes and be able to read it right off of my computer screen in seconds. It also allows to you listen to music, buy movies or music, and install various apps for gaming, organizing or music as well.

This week in night class the most exciting feature I learned about was the extensions and apps Google Chrome offers when you use it as your entire web browser. My professor mentioned the words “American” and “Netflix” in one sentenced, followed by “Free Access” and he had me in 100%. Through installing Chrome’s Hola Better Internet I now have access with my previous Netflix account to watch endless episodes of One Tree Hill, Criminal Minds, and piles of Disney movies. All my soft spot!! The only unfortunate timing to all of this is that I wrote two heavy midterms yesterday and watched more Netflix leading up to them than I did studying… oops.

A few other special features offered through Google Chrome is the Ad Blocker Plus extensions that essentially blocks all pop ups and ads on webpages or YouTube videos, it’s great! I also installed Screencastify which is an app that allows me to capture/record my computer screen. This was really exciting to come across as it will be extremely beneficial recording lessons or implementing any flipped classroom math lessons in my future classrooms.

There is a whole other world that Google offers alone, and I cannot wait to dig into it further to see what I can learn next!

Check out my virtual Google Tour using Screencastify:

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BwtSr0K4A_B-djRVZlV3M3dDUEU&authuser=0

 

 

Round Two: #saskedchat

Last week my ECMP455 class participated in the weekly #saskedchat twitter chat, moderated by Kelly Christopherson. For most of us this was our first live twitter chat to participate in on our own (we really are growing up fourth years! :P) This experience formed connections with educators, and even other math specific educators, who we probably would not have met if it weren’t for this powerful online community.

However, this week we had a special opportunity to participate in discussion again during our night class because of two excitedScreen Shot 2015-03-03 at 10.12.53 PM, willing, and cooperative moderators Tuesday evening, Christopherson and Ferrah Graham. The turnout from Saskatchewan educators was still incredible, and I gained another half a dozen followers through this chat. The most exciting part for me was not only learning from other teachers and educators, but when my comments/ideas were actually noticed by otheScreen Shot 2015-03-03 at 10.12.43 PMrs and expanded on through online discussion. Above is a screenshot of my Tweet Deck and a glimpse of two main feeds I follow regularly. The column on the left feeds the hashtag for my university class, and the right column is an example of a conversation about digital safety with three brilliant individuals I would have never met without twitter. Initially my reply gained response from my fellow classmates (left image) but watching it grow and reach others who are following #saskedchat was super cool!

 

Now, I know I mentioned interacting and discussing such interesting topics with these provincial wide teachers was a huge thumbs up for me, but I experienced an even more exciting moment later on Tuesday night. We were asked to share any specific apps, programs, or technologies that we enjoy or have found successful in our classrooms. I replied, stating how much I enjoy Seesaw and how closely it resembles and education-based Instagram. I had teachers from outside of Saskatchewan commenting how they hadn’t heard of this app Screen Shot 2015-03-03 at 10.15.01 PMyet and would love to try it. I had teachers asking ME questions, yes, ME, I couldn’t believe it! By the end of the chat I had the creators of Seesaw following me on twitter and answering questions for these teachers through replies on my tweet.

This may seem silly for how excited I got, but it just goes to show the potential Twitter has to be interactive and collaborative with people around the world.

Huge thank you to my professor, Alec Couros, for introducing us to and making special arrangements for a #saskedchat live conversation to take place during our class.

 

Dragon Dictation

During my journey through sign language this week, I decided to learn more about hearing impairments and look into such inclusion as an extension of my learning project. Being a future teacher, my first topic of investigation was to understand characteristics that students with hearing impairments may portray and how I can provide for them to be successful in my classroom.

After reading many websites and blogs, I have gained a much deeper understanding for the needs of students with hearing impairments, but most importantly the gained awareness of the importance and access of communication between teachers-students and their peers. Through suggestions and articles it was evident that as a teacher I am responsible for ensuring all of my instructions are either provided in written form, or that I must always be directly facing my students when speaking. If you are a pre-service or future teacher, you are probably aware that that can be difficult at times; either lecturing while writing a mathematics example on the board, or even reading from a text and unintentionally covering your face with the book.

The blog linked above suggested using an FM broadcasting technology, where students and teachers wear this device around their necks, allowing the voice of the teacher to be amplified. Not only does it transmit our voices from 50-80 feet, it bring our voices right to their hearing device to avoid miscommunication when we are not directly facing them. A huge pro to this technology is the opportunity for our students with hearing impairments to maintain engaged and build confidence in both their academic and social environments of everyday life.

However, I know not all schools or families are supplied with the FMScreen Shot 2015-02-10 at 9.30.44 PM technology, so I decided to start looking into apps for iPads/tablets or cellphones. The first one I came across was incredible, it is called Dragon DictationThis app allows any audio to be picked up and transferred into text form. To test it out, I was out for coffee with a friend and I hit record during one of our conversations. After a few minutes I looked down, hit “stop recording” and our conversation instantly appeared in written text. I couldn’t believe it! This app will allow teachers to continue with explanations and instructions, as they would naturally, but can have the peace of mind knowing our students with hearing impairments are able to capture any aural information provided during class.

The app also allows you to type with a keyboard if there any extra content the user may want to add into the dialogue, and allows you send emails, text messages, Facebook messages, and send tweets directly from the message it creates.

I plan on implementing the use of this app if I ever have a student with a hearing impairment in my class. Feel free to try it out!dragon

“Blue Jeans Are The Most Beautiful Things Since The Gondola”

Now, you might be wondering why I’ve chosen Diana Vreeland’s quote to capture the message of the following blog post. Initially, when the term “Blue Jeans” comes to mind, I think about the excitement of the weekend when all you want to do is throw those ironed dress clothes aside and lounge around in your comfiest pair of jeans you own! However, now that another learning-packed week has gone by, it is time for me to share with you the newest possibility technology offers that I learned.. it’s Blue Jeans!

Let me explain. Blue Jeans is essentially an online, cloud-based conference room where you can connect with anyone via messaging, audio, and/or video. To really gain a true understanding for this service our ECMP455 class met through Blue Jeans for our Tuesday night class. I’ll be honest, it was a tad weird at first just silently staring at all of your friends and classmates, but it was extremely easy to interact and speak up during discussion. Alec was still able to share his screen and present his slides for us to follow along with, even while we had video screens of our classmates up to ‘watch’ at the same time (sounds so much creepier than it actually is, I swear! 😛 ).

During our collaboration online we kept discussing other forms of social media and access our students interact through, whether it be good or bad. A few specific websites and apps we discussed were SnapChat, ChatRoulette, Tinder, Kik, and YikYak. As a group of future teachers, we talked about ways we can approach these apps our students have direct access too, to ensure a they have a safe online identity. There were many of us who have tried these programs ourselves, and for most still have accounts on a few. The message that was emphasized by all of us was that there is more bad rep for all of these apps than there is good, but we reached the conclusion that people simply abuse them. Our professor brought up Tinder, where most of my classmates laughed and said how it is a complete joke; however, one guy shared his cousin met his current girlfriend via Tinder. The majority of us are on Snapchat, but strictly for sending goofy pictures to our best friends while including a little ‘text message’. In general, many online sites or apps we have access to, so do our students. I believe it is our responsibility to be aware of what is out there, and have the discussion with our students on how to be responsible with this access. My biggest goal is to address the topic of online identity and safety before it’s too late, not to wait until a situation of bullying or picture distribution occurs with one of my students. This led to the importance of having parents on board, ensuring you have their consent and support to highlight these issues with hopes they are instilling these expectations at home as well.

Social media has endless opportunities, but all it takes is connecting with the wrong stranger or hitting that ‘send’ button when you maybe should have thought twice about it first to turn fun into a nightmare.

Take home message:

**Educate your children and students about safe online identities, and practice this responsible, professional conduct through your own accounts!