Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Learning, Digital Learning, Teaching...

We as educators generally focus on the types of learners we teach and how we need to teach to them through a variety of ways that they will learn best. Through reading Bates article about the pedagogical differences between media I found it interesting that I see a lot of my own preferences within my own teaching. The main section that I found myself aligning with Jenn, that learning through video is probably my top choice. When I look at how I learn, relearn, or inquire into new tasks I always find myself turning to videos. Some of my favorite are usually around how to butcher game, to learning how to properly Sous-vide different foods.

I love to cook and am always trying new meals, appetizers, and techniques. The reason I use video so frequently is because I know I learn from seeing how the professionals do the technique and I try to emulate them. I have a plethora of cookbooks and I love to get my inspirations for flavours from them, but when they are talking about a new technique I almost always find myself searching for a video for confirmation of how to learn the new skill rather than reading about it.

Now through reading the Bates Chapter, and skimming through peoples blogs I am realizing how prevalent text is within many of the videos I use to learn, and that I share with my students when learning. As I was reading Kara's blog I agreed with her comments about how I read, and what I do when I am reading, which is to highlight, jot down notes, and even go to the extend to type notes into a Google Doc to ensure I do not have to rewrite/type information when it comes time to write responses. Therefore I am realizing that even though I may enjoy the video aspect, I do learn most through text.
Flickr: House of Cards

One thing that also made me connect my enjoyment of text is within TV shows (House of Cards is a favourite) and movies now. When someone receives a message the message in some shows, or movies is being overlaid on the screen so we can see who it is from and what the message is. This idea made so much sense to me and I have commented on it a few times as my wife and I watch different shows.

With respect to my own personal learning, I know that one type of learning is never enough. I know that even when I am strictly reading, I do not get enough out of the straight text, so I typically read out loud to help myself keep focused and I know I retain more information when I read aloud to myself. Similarly when listening to an recording of a book, or I am following someone read, I have a hard time not reading as they speak. This is where the love of video comes from. I feel I need to be as engaged as possible. I need multiple stimuli occurring to keep my focus. That may be due to the fact that I should have been diagnosed with some form of squirrel watching/bike riding/need to be active diagnosis, but I also have realized that the more interactive, whether it is physically, or multimedia style of learning is where and how I learn best. One is never enough.

Fig 7.7 from Bates, 2011

As I look at the pedagogical framework from Bates' article I found myself being mostly a connectivist style learner. Most of my learning come from blogs, YouTube, Wikis or straight up Google searches. Where I see my classroom, spans all three of the categories. I feel most of the deep learning comes in the connectivist zone, but we typically work through the objectivist, and constructivist areas in the early and middle portions of the year to get the students ready to be work within their own inquiry based topics.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Critiquing my Math Instruction Tool

For almost all of my math lessons I like to connect a digital lesson to the assignment so those students who miss a class, are sick, or need a refresh at home while they are working on their homework. I use Raffi Kouyoumdjian's videos most of the time.

This week we are working through Volume of Right Rectangular Prisms

I like these because of his interactive Smart Board and he teaches using the formulas very similar to how I expect my students to work through their math problems. I feel that our teaching styles are very similar and make it easy for my students to recall my lesson when they watch his videos.

No looking at critiquing his digital instruction there are things that could be added into his teaching. When talking about quality I feel that the video quality is very good, but the audio can be distracting because you can hear the background sounds of the intercom, occasionally students in the hall, and a constant buzz from something. Certainly the lighting and production quality is not that of a professional video, but in a way I like that it shows he is just a regular classroom teacher who isn't tied to a big company.

Some things I think he could use is to integrate some better sound system, whether that is incorporating a microphone to reduce the background noise or ensuring there are no disruptions when he does his videos. I think he could overlay some graphic onto his video as reminders.

There are some sections within the video that when he is using his smart board the information is behind him and blocked by his body. This is where I think incorporating a Screencast technique may help improve this digital lesson. He could record what he is doing on the smart board, then piece that together with a stop animation tool to ensure nothing gets missed by him accidentally covering up the lesson with his body.

In terms of production difficulty, I do not think this would be hard to create. It seems as if he has used a camera on a tripod and hit record as he does his lesson. Of course he has some sharp cuts with iMovie transitions between 'scenes' to cut down on instruction time. I like that he jumps from one question to the next without showing all the steps it takes to erase the smart board and pull up the next slide or question. I feel this speeds up the lesson and keeps the learning going.

For my use I have found that students and parents appreciate having a video linked to the assignment so they can rewatch/relearn the concept to work on their struggling math concept. Therefore, the impact I have seen on student learning is a positive aspect. Specifically for the early lessons in math units where we look at more of the holistic approach using models and activities to get the learning process started. These lessons frustrate parents, but when they view the lesson, they are then capable at helping or understanding the concept along with their child.

These videos are a valuable tool for me, but I would like to begin creating my own, not only so I have them, but also to have more ownership over my own classroom and material I am distributing. While I have appreciated using Raffi's videos, I would like to incorporate some of my suggestions and develop my own digital teaching lessons around these concepts.

Does anyone have another collection of math videos that are similar they would like to share?

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Critiquing LMS 's

To start off I have to apologize for the lack of activity this week.  Life gets stressful some weeks and for me it's been a long one.... Report cards are easy to blame, but at the same time, life with a toddler, two classes, a very pregnant wife, a mother getting knee replacement surgery, working 2 jobs and the variety of other things that life throws us all any given day has made this week long.  So my apology is to all of my classmates for being tardy with this post and for not reading and commenting the way I should have this week.  

As I read through Audrey Waters article, Beyond the LMS, I was seriously juxtaposed. I understand where she is coming from, especially when it comes to open concept teaching and expanding individual personal learning networks (PLN), but at the same time when I think of my students, whom I am to keep safe, and ensure they learn the required Saskatchewan Curriculum I think that is partly why we use a LMS, vs a more Utopian option that she hints at throughout her post. As much as we are to be evaluating based on specific outcomes and determining whether or not a student is progressing, meeting or exceeding grade level expectations, we also want to develop healthy, positive, forward thinking students who will be ready to enter the big scary world of adulthood without any of the protection of an LMS.

I do think that we want to develop independent thinkers, and people who, when needed are capable of learning information on their own to suit their current needs. To do this though, I do think that we need some sort of structure or a way to manage our priorities. When it is Christmas time, or close to Spring Break, or the end of the year, a teachers life becomes more stressful... Why, because of the irregularity and unstructured nature of those times. We do not want to begin a new unit, in fear of having to reteach the material, or we want to reward the students for working hard, so we plan fun activities that aren't directly tied to curriculum, but are more developed for social interactions.

Now when it comes to the LMS's that we have talked about in class. I am an avid Google Classroom guy, who uses this platform in his classroom on a daily basis. Four years ago, I started using Edmodo and I enjoyed this platform as well. Through researching, I like Schoology mostly because of the options of setting up groups within a given class. Including the learning outcomes within this platform is definitely one of my favorite tools. With it being an American site it doesn't have any of the Canadian standards, let alone Saskatchewan specific, but there is an option to add them into the assignments which is great! The intricacies of the program I am not entirely sure about, but I know if I had to restart, or my school board dropped the GAFE option for us, I would probably switch to Schoology.

Within our class we had the opportunity to look into Canvas. My initial response to Canvas is one of confusion, frustration and a general distaste from attempting to set up a course. I have a variety of material that I have used in the past and when I attempted to upload it I found it was not the right format. Then I looked into importing another persons course through their commons option. I could only view small portions of the units, and I had to download a full unit to look through to determine whether or not I wanted that unit. Having not spent a lot of time on this LMS I would not completely write it off, but given the same amount of time to Schoology I was able to quickly use my already developed files and they were compatible. I am sure once a person is used to searching, and understanding the nuances of Canvas that there are a lot o positives to the platform, but in the hour I spent fumbling around I found it very disjointed.

Let me get back to Edmodo. As I have already used this site, I logged in and began reminiscing about how I used this and where I wanted to take it. I appreciated the familiarity my students had with this platform due to its similarity to Facebook (if your unfamiliar here is a blog about the similarities) and their willingness to give this new 'flipped' classroom a try. I was able to use this to manage the learning in a very transient class, with a huge variety of needs, including K-8 reading levels, variety of students with an assortment of learning needs from dyslexia to low cognitive function to FAS and ADHD. Using this platform helped the students keep track of their assignments and know when things were handed in and what they received for marks. It gave me the opportunity to have the students who had the opportunity to work on more individualize plans and enrich those when needed. There were some issues with this platform. Some were that not all the assignments were as easy to complete due to the nature of the class, ex; math, but there were also the spaces, where they had to be within the application to do their work. There wasn't an option to do the assignment outside of the platform and the collaboration piece was more difficult, at least it was difficult to ensure the students were putting in an equitable amount of work.

This brings me to GAFE, more specifically Google Classroom. I love this platform. Now Alice Keeler wrote a blog about is Google Classroom a LMS or Not? I feel she made some very good points, but at the same time, when referring to back to Audrey Waters post about teaching Beyond the LMS, my question would be does it matter? In terms of how can I manage, yes sorry Audrey but as a middle school teacher I need to manage, my students workload, evidence of learning, and utilize the tools within GAFE to facilitate and check in on my students daily. I love how this platform increases the level of accountability. The main thing I like is that I can create and share documents with students who can then collaborate within that document and then the evidence of who did what is at my fingertips through the document itself. I can quickly see who did what, and who did nothing. Another thing I love about this LMS the closed option that still includes parents information. This was a new addition this school year, where the parents are sent an email daily or weekly (their choice) as to what is going on in the students classes.

Here is a snapshot of what my LMS homepage looks like. From this platform I am able to manage the work for my 106 Science, 28 Math, 26 ELA and Homeroom, along with being involved in our Lion King Musical group. In the past I have also used this platform to run our sport team schedule, games, and practices.

I know I am biased towards GAFE because of my current situation within Regina Public School Board, and I know it is heavily biased towards Google and Pearson, but at the same time, through strong teaching techniques and using inquiry based learning opportunities I am hoping to give my students as well rounded approach to their education as possible. I look forward to reading others blogs about the LMS's they use.

Friday, 20 January 2017

Collaborative Genius Hour

What will it look like?

So this week I took the time to begin looking at what are good qualities of an online learning opportunity or blended class. Kyle shared a post on our Google+ page around 7 Tips to Plan for Effective Blended Learning. This site demonstrated some great tips around the layout and developing questions to guide an educator on how to take a face-to-face unit and adapt it for an online/digital world. I specifically enjoyed the way it was laid out because it doesn't tie you to a specific type of curriculum, only guides you into the forum of what you should be thinking about. Ashley tweeted about another great article on the 6 Essential Tips for Planning an Effective Online Course. This article broke it down to more of a unit based, step by step outline, talking about how to plan, organize, and demonstrate how the expectations should be laid out. These two articles are similar but give a nice perspective that I was able to begin my thought process about where I wanted to go with this assignment of developing an online/blended learning course.

A quick visual of these concepts are put together in an awesome tweet from Jenn
Courtesy of Jenn StewartMitchell

What do I want to do?

So far this week Jorie and I have been working towards creating a group around genius hour. We are excited about creating a program that can be used for multi grade level, and essentially work for a variety of inquiry based concepts.
I am a big fan of inquiry based learning because it gives the students the opportunity to demonstrate their passions and interests in a creative and positive way.  This article on a Davenport Boys High School is a great example of what can happen when we guide students learning in the direction they want to take it.  

Jorie came to me very excited about Genius Hour and how we should/could incorporate this not only into this class but implement it at our school level, while working on a buddy system for our different grade levels (Jorie is a grade 2 and I teach 7/8). Her energy is hard to turn away from so obviously I was on board.

Who else is on board?

Then with a quick question to our Google+ Community, within 12 hours we had a group of 6 people on board for developing modules and an online course around Genius Hour. The group consists of Adam Krammer, Danielle Maley, Jenn Huber, Lorraine Wagner, Jorie Gilroy-Beck and myself. We have already planned our first Zoom meeting and have a collaboration document rolling. We are all very excited to get started on this assignment, I for one and thrilled about the opportunity to create something that I know will be such a valuable tool for me and my colleagues in the future.

Genius Hour?

If you are wondering about what Genius Hour is all about here is a video that gives a quick overview:

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Yet Again Another Ed Tech Course

I am Kyle DuMont.  I am a grade 7/8 teacher at Jack MacKenzie School in Regina. I am married to a wonderful, but very pregnant woman, who is also a teacher.  We have an amazing little toddler, Lily, running around that generally chases our 10 year old coonhound, Whiskey.  This is my 8/9th class in my masters program.  Luckily this is my 4th Courosbrandt course.

Photo Credit : mkhmarketing 

I am very excited to be working on developing a blended/online learning course.  I currently use GAFE in my classroom regularly.  I attempt to utilize it as a blended learning format, but due to time constraints it is not always perfectly blended. My twitter handle is @kyledumont2 and one of my goals for this course is to utilize twitter more than I have in the past.  Usually I am a Google Plus kind of guy and I follow others on twitter and usually just like other tweets or re-tweet.  This course I plan on tweeting more often and being more interactive in this space.

Throughout this class I am excited to find new tools that will help me develop my blended learning atmosphere in a more synthetic way.  Right now I am a YouTube abuser and find videos that link to the teaching, I would like to take a leap and begin videoing some of my teaching and use them as my videos to share with my students and colleagues.

Because of my affinity for GAFE I am also hoping to find other LMS systems that are comparable or at least interactive with many of the GAFE systems.  I would love to see how I can expand my horizons and being interfacing Microsoft OneDrive with my Google Classroom, as I am finding many of my students have this as their option on their BYOD's.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Summary of Learning

Over the course of the semester we have taken a look at the history of educational technology through theories, how they have changed and reshaped education as we move forward.  Obviously some of the biggest changes to learning in course of history were the printing press, then the incorporation of radio, tv, and now we are looking at multimedia and the vast amount of ed tech options.  

The thing I appreciated the most from this class was how I was able to look at my teaching, what I am using within my classroom, how am I interacting with students, engaging students, developing a deeper understanding of curriculum through using or sometimes making the conscious choice not to use “ed tech”.  Compounding the theories behind the different tools we use as educators and gaining a deeper understanding for why I am using these tools has opened my eyes and changed my reasoning for my pedagogical stance on using ed tech within the classroom.

I think one of the most influential quotes that I remembered came from an early reading of Postman’s article on the 5 things we need to know about tech change.  
I feel that this quote defines my summary of this course.  Aside from the religious connotation to it I found that this has so many truths.     

After a riveting lesson on our favorite theorists, we began the semester by looking at educational television.  This made me look at why I am using videos within my classroom.  Prior to this class I felt that it helped develop a blended learning environment that enabled my students to review, relearn, or go beyond the classroom teaching and inquire themselves into a topic. After this class I realize that using videos plays an important role in the students learning, but only if it is engaging.  This is the part that I needed to learn.  Using the videos, or tv shows to enhance the learning is only one way, and that simply viewing only allows the students to learn at a low level because it is only reinforcing behaviourist expectations.  Showing the “engaging” video requires the students to sit, watch and listen.  If I am not extending this opportunity with meaningful constructivist or connectivist pre or post teaching concepts I am not teaching to the whole child like I should be.  

This realization led into the next two weeks where we discussed media and ed tech advancements. This is where I was able to take a closer look at the tools I am using within my classroom.  Specifically my Google Apps For Education centred classroom.  Critically looking at how I am using media, videos and the GAFE apps within my classroom  gave me the opportunity to understand why I use the tools the way I am using them.  I feel that through this critical lens I broke down my teaching and realized that I need to be improving my techniques so the students are getting more constructive and connective opportunities.  Through developing these opportunities it will allow more autonomy for my students to learn on their own while using the technology tools. Specifically I reflected on how I use my Google docs and the range of uses I have for them.  Whether they are used as a substitute for their pen and paper note book when answering short answer questions from a short story, to collaborating as a small group to develop a presentation, or into an ongoing independent research project where each student demonstrates their knowledge of a topic.  I found this gave me the chance to redesign some of the recurring projects we do at my school so they can be more influential for the students learning the next time we cover the topic.  

The autonomy piece began to frighten me as we discussed the development of the Web from 1.0 to 2.0 to the future of what 3.0 may look like.  Setting the rules and procedures for what is expected, allowed, and developing a positive digital citizens is very important but on top of my actual curriculum that is mandated by the province I feel like

When I look at the final weeks I think about the fun ways to evaluate and assess students.  There are so many different ways to fomatively or summatively assess, but I have to say, the one my students love the most is through kahoot!  The level of participation I have in these classes is amazing.  I can not say enough positives about this tool.  I do like plickers and we have to use pearson through our board, but when you can have students excited about a quiz, that's amazing!

When we looked at Assistive tech, I look to a definition within the reading “rethinking assistive tech” by Dave Edyburn.
Now Mr. Edyburn went on to dismantle and edit that definition.  Probably the largest piece for me would be the concept of AT being able to improve the function for anyone in need. 
In my classroom, I am focusing on how to incorporate and utilize GAFE Google Read Write.  It has a variety of functions that I am only beginning to become familiar with. This tool is very versatile and has the capability to help any person.  I have shared the basics of the Read Write program with the majority of my 7/8s in my school and I see a large portion of them using it to some capacity on an ongoing basis.  This is what makes this tool so awesome.  It is functional for everyone to use and therefore it has become a normal practice within our pod, so that the ones who “need” it as an assistive tool to improve their successes do not feel out of place when capitalizing on this opportunity. 

Finally I would like to thank everyone in this semesters ECI 833 class and to our leader Alec for running another great ed tech class. 

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Educational Uses for Augmented/Virtual Reality

After Bill and Logan's extensive presentation on a variety of tools that are available in this field for educational purposes.  As of now I feel these are mostly prevalent within the science, with the capabilities to incorporate writing skills into them.  With some of the tools that they demonstrated I really like the Augmented Reality ideas and I can see a quick and fairly smooth transition to these type of tools.

Rochelle discussed in our breakout room about how she uses Aurasma within her library as a tool for her students to be incorporating technology into their daily lives.  Her students complete a review of a book they enjoyed and then submit it to her.  Rochelle then takes a picture and adds it to her WSHlibrary and adds an Aurasma sticker to the book.  This allows her students to know which books have had reviews and they can see what their peers opinions of the books are.

Within our chat during our last class someone said they could see augmented reality be put to good use when geocaching.  I really liked this idea as when I go geocaching I always try to hit up as many of the key spots in our downtown tour to give the students more information about the heritage of many of these sites.  I would love to create an Aurasma account and add another layer to the educational experience to this outdoor ed field trip provided by Regina Public Schools Outdoor Ed team.

In terms of what VR tools are out there for school I found that Immersive Education had some great ideas and tools for how you can incorporate this into your science classes.  I would love to get some Google Cardboard head sets and find a way to utilize tools like these for my classroom.  I can imagine the students would love to use these.  I could even see us finding innovative ways to utilize these tools within a PAA class or two.