CoETaIL Online Cohorts Beginning Soon!!

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Only 11 Spots Remain!

Online Cohort starting on September 9th: Taught by Kim Cofino, this will be our first September start online cohort. There are only 11 spots left after pre-registration on the website. Be quick to grab one of these last remaining spots! Click on the link above for details.

2nd Semester Start!

Online Cohort starting in February: Taught by Jeff Utecht, this cohort follows the same timeline as the Online 12-13 and Online 13-14 cohorts. Registration is now OPEN!

How Do You Manage IT?

Week 4: November 22-28

Essential Question: What are ways you manage the use of laptops in your classroom and what additional best practice ways might you add?

Simple, clear procedures have always worked for me for any kind of classroom management whether it be with laptops or without.  Here’s just a few tips and tricks I use when working with laptops in the classroom.  All procedures are modeled and revisited during the year to ensure the smooth operation of technology in the class.

Tip #1:   Have students lower laptop lids 45° when giving important instructions.  You would do this any other time – working with laptops is no different. Rove around the classroom while students are working.  You do this any other time too – again, working with laptops is no different. DSCN0183

Tip #2:  We don’t put our fingers on anyone else’s keyboard – we help by telling not doing (otherwise how will they learn?)

Tip #3:  Make an Experts Chart.  Train 2-3 students to be the experts in something (embeding an image, working in iMovie, blogs, voicethread, garageband, importing audio/video/photos)  That way the teacher doesn’t have to be the expert and students get a buzz out of being considered the expert.

Tip #4:  When learning a new digital tool – ALWAYS have “sand-pit” time.  Allow students to play and discover as much as they can about how it works and what it can do. Usually 15-20 minutes and use a timer (interactive ones are cool)

Tip #5:  Speed-Geek – After playing in the “sand-pit” with a new tool, we have speed-geeking (kind of like speed-dating!). One volunteer per table remains behind to showcase what they’ve discovered, the rest of the class rotates. (The volunteers usually become the Experts on our Experts Chart) DSCN0771

Tip #6:  Use clear, simple routines for getting out/putting away laptops – they are just like any other resource in the classroom.  (Have two monitors that check all laptops have actually been plugged in for charging.)

Tip #7:  Ask students at the start of the year to bring in a set of earbuds.  (Very cheap here in Thailand).  That way everyone has their own headphones.  We store the headphones in mini ziplock bags with student’s names on the bags.

Tip #8:  The flash-drive is an important tool.  It’s just like your pencil, ruler and eraser.  It’s a MUST have item everyday.

Tip #9:  Don’t be afraid to say you don’t know how to do something.  Students love it when they figure it out before you do.  That being said ….. if you’re going to use a digital tool for a project in your class – make sure you’ve had a go at the task first.  You do need to know the basics.  If you’re not sure how to use a tool, utilize your tech team (if you’re lucky enough to have one) or ask your PLN for help.

Tip #10:  Keep calm when things don’t work so well. The internet will go down, the programme will not respond but don’t sweat it.  Model patience to your students.  If you get flustered or frustrated when things don’t work, so will they.

More links provided by our CoETaIL course advisors for managing laptops/computers in the class:  23 Things about Classroom Laptops.

So what have I missed?  What do you do?

Image attribution:  teachingsagittarian http://www.flickr.com/photos/room18tis

NET.s – What Does That Really Mean for Teachers?

Week 3 November 15 – 21:

Our Essential Question: How relevant are the NETs for Teachers and Administrators to being a “Good Educator” today? Flickr Photo Download: World_hands

We’ve been asked to read NETs for Teachers, NETs for Administrators, and an article relating to ISTE’s unveiling of Next Generation of Technology Standards for Administrators.

In essence, the NETs for Teachers is divided into 5 main points. That teachers will:-

  1. Facilitate and inspire student learning and creativity
  2. Design and develop digital-age learning experiences and assessments
  3. Model digital-age work and learning
  4. Promote and model digital citizenship and responsibility
  5. Engage in professional growth and leadership

NETs for Administrators also divides into 5 main points.  That Administrators will provide/promote

  1. Visionary Leadership
  2. Digital Age Learning Culture
  3. Excellence in Professional Practice
  4. Systematic Improvement
  5. Digital Citizenship

The NETs are extremely relevant for today’s “Good Educator” (not really liking that term – but that belongs in another post).  I would like to think that all educators facilitate and inspire student learning and creativity, as well as engage themselves in professional growth and leadership – otherwise one might wonder what on earth they are doing in Education in the first place??  The belief that technology has an amazing set of tools that enable educators to take authentic and relevant learning to a digital-age level is paramount to whether or not one believes that the NETs are relevant to any of today’s educators.

As the world changes, and our reliance on technology to communicate, collaborate and connect globally expands in ways we don’t even know about yet (because they haven’t yet been invented), surely we must somewhere, in our vision for our school, have a commitment to providing students with opportunities to learn digitally.  Therefore administrators must believe that their NETs are paramount to student learning, so therefore must insist that their teachers are committed to meeting the NETs for teachers.

Image Attribution: Licensed under creative commons: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rosieobeirne/4089434751/

How Do You Know?

Week:  Nov 8-14

Essential Question:  How do the ISB TAIL Standards fit in with content learning and instruction happening in classrooms at ISB?

We were asked to analyze the ISB Technology and Information Literacy (TAIL) Standards and determine where they fit in with content learning, age appropriateness, and assessment design. How can teachers and schools ensure that their students are learning what they need when it comes to Technology and Information Literacy?

A lot of our table discussion centred around whether or not the word technology ought to even be on the ISB TAIL Standards.  I wonder if the word technology were not there, then some teachers may still not embed technology into their classroom practice with many of the standards. However it would be virtually impossible to collaborate or communicate globally without the use of technology unless you are really stubborn and determined to complete these kinds of tasks using old methods (and I’m thinking about snail mail here).

As I’m a Grade 5 teacher (with a shameless plug (aka: hyperlink) to our class blog) I looked at the 3-5 Learner Profile. Our current Grade 5 team is doing an amazing job of providing students with a variety of experiences with technology – from individual blogs, class blogs, using flip cameras, iMovie, Garageband, creating podcasts and wikis to name a few.  Whilst some of the team are still becoming comfortable with the use of technology in rich and authentic settings, it is the willingness to try, the flexibility and the genuine belief in the power of technology’s use in Education that will enable Grade 5 students to become successful technology and information literate students.

There’s a very informative and practical wiki growing on the web already.  The NET.S Implementation Wiki.  Ideas, suggestions, rubrics and and resources are being added by real teachers in real classrooms to show a variety of ways that can help us ensure that students are learning what they need when it comes to Technology and Information Literacy.

Who’s Job Is It Anyway?

Our Essential Questions for today’s session:

  • How do the NETs and AASL standards address the needs of a successful learner?
  • Who’s job is it to teach the NETs and AASL standards to students?

The NETs (National Education Technology Standards) are from ISTE (International Society Technology in Education) and the AASL standards are from the American Association of School Librarians.

Our table group enjoyed a good deal of discussion comparing and contrasting both standards.   We looked at what are these organisations talking about in terms of what students need to be doing and asked ourselves do they address the things we have been looking at back in Course 2.  We discussed the value of having standards, what was missing, what seemed unnecessary and was their any overlap.

AASL  appeared to be more holistic in terms of the 21st century learner, whilst ISTE – appeared more “techie” in terms of the 21st century learner. When thinking about the value of standards, I personally think that it really matters what you are using the standards for.  Are you looking specifically at technology or are you looking at the learner as a whole?

AASL was more fitting with Bloom’s Taxonomy, more specific. Technology is hardly mentioned and looks more at the learner as a whole no matter what area of learning they are in.

Why do we need to have these standards?  Are these two organisations just legitimizing themselves?  Aren’t all these things integrated into curriculum areas?   But if we don’t specifically state what is expected then how can we hold anyone accountable for these standards being met?  Do our specific curriculum areas specifically address these particular things?  There is overlap in all curriculum areas.

What should schools do?  Do schools need to have a set of standards like from ISTE or AASL or an amalgamation of the two?  Or is this already in the school’s curriculum?  Who’s job is it?  Could we really make learner’s like this?  What’s the best way for this to happen?  This fundamentally the hardest part!!

When you get a new teacher in and this isn’t their passion how do you know that this is going happen?  More important is the level of understanding – it’s all very well to have these standards – do teacher’s value this stuff?  Do they understand it?  Is it grounded in a belief?

My personal belief is that ultimately the school has to have this embedded into their mission statement, it has to be part of the vision for our learners.  Are we aligning the standards with how we see our learners – are these standards grounded in our beliefs of the learner.  It is important to know (as a teacher) what to expect or what is expected of you as a teacher.

When you want to build common understanding – that takes everybody.  It’s not going to be a static document either and it’s not a content driven document.  It needs to be constantly revisited, realigned, and contributed to by everybody including the students themselves!!

Flickr Photo Download: I Want You...

So who’s job is it to teach the NETs and AASL standards to students?  I think that job belongs to ALL of us.

What do you think?

Image Attribution: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ericmmartin/3370560968/

CoETaIL – Course 3 – Final Project

Wow – the end of another course – Course 4 starting next week!!  The purpose of this post is to reflect on the experience of designing this unit/presentation.

To be honest in my reflection,  I need to say first that I’ve really struggled keeping up with Course 3.  It’s not that I don’t understand parts of it or I can’t do parts of it, it’s that I’ve struggled with keeping everything functioning together.  By that I mean my family, my work and my study.  And it’s been hard.  So hard in fact, that I ended up doing BOTH parts of the final project instead of just one.  Was it a combination of so much to do and so little time to do it in?  Was it not reading the instructions properly?  Is this what happens to our students when we overload them with so much to learn and so little time to learn it in?

So how did I come to do twice as much work as I really need to?  I believed I’d read the requirements correctly the first time, and I actually had.  I also distinctly remember our Course Advisers repeatedly tell us that we had a choice so my confusion, and eventual “extra workload” was entirely my own fault!

Utilize your visual literacy skills to either:

  • Create a visual presentation to use in your class to help teach a lesson

OR

  • Develop a unit plan to actively engage students in using visual literacy to demonstrate their learning (include a model “project” for what your students should produce).

For some reason a while later I thought than you had to have a unit plan and I couldn’t understand how to get a unit plan out of the tutorial my group and I had created on “How To Choose A Just Right Book”.  So that’s what led to me doing BOTH parts of the final project! I think I need to take some of the advice I always offer my students:

Check and double check you understand exactly what it is you are required to do before you start!

Anyhow ……. back to the reflection:

Create a visual presentation to use in your class to help teach a lesson:
I enjoyed working as a group on a creating a tutorial for what is a similar problem across the grades – teaching students how to choose just right books in the learning hub!  For some of us, many of our students wander aimlessly around the learning hub not actually making good use of their time and certainly not sure of how to choose a book that’s just right for them without the levels on the books.  It felt like we were creating an authentic presentation for use in the classroom as well as fulfilling our course project requirements.  Working together as group saw us work cooperatively, collaboratively, using each others strengths to produce a finished product, much like we expect our students to do.  It is always helpful to go through the process we expect our students to go through in order to troubleshoot any problems we think may occur.

Develop a unit plan to actively engage students in using visual literacy to demonstrate their learning (include a model “project” for what your students should produce).
I love digital storytelling.  Stories let us communicate our perspective and perception. Stories let us connect on an emotional level with people and events in stories and we connect them to experiences in our lives.  Digital storytelling allows us to share our stories globally hence the driving force behind the unit plan Personal Narratives Digital Stories.  Sharing our stories with an authentic audience enables students to work with purpose, using visual literacy to show, not tell the narrative story.  How powerful is that?  Communicate skills are engaged, connection skills are addressed and students are provided with opportunities to address multiple intelligences.  Again, going through the process we expect our students to go through in order to experience what it will be like is paramount to the success of any project-based learning in the classroom.  It also provides students with a model to aspire to, gives them direction and helps them to understand what is expected of them.

The actual process of making the model was an eye-opener.  Just thinking that you’ve developed this splendid, authentic, purposeful task does not necessarily ensure that the project will be successful.  Choosing my personal narrative was easy – it’s the one I’d done the most work one, it’s the one that’s been polished and polished until it’s the best that it can be.  Students will not struggle with this step as they too have a similar piece of work in their Writer’s Workshop book.

Finding the images for the story was easy – pictures from my camera.  That’s what had prompted me to write the original narrative in the first place.  As for students finding images, unless they too had photos stored on their computers at home and could bring them in on a flash drive, they would have to search for appropriate images to retell their chosen personal narratives.  I began to wonder whether there was a rather large obstacle here for students.  Searching and finding appropriate images (and I’m referring to the visual appropriateness here, rather than the creative commons approriateness) will be time-consuming and difficult for many students.  This would be the area where the storyboard planning would be extremely important – what sorts of images will help me tell my story.  This is where those critical thinking skills will need to be applied.  Critical thinking is a very valuable skill, a very important skill.  At this point I get the feeling that this is the focal point, the crux of the lesson – that’s different to what was originally envisioned in the unit planning.  Again, I’m reminded of the importance of creating a model project.

Using still images, adding audio, adding background music, and using transitions in iMovie was exceptionally easy, but only because I’m familiar with the programme.  This is where screencasting will be of particular use – mini tutorials to share with students how to do certain things like importing images, editing images, transitions etc.  It could also be an opportunity for students with prior knowledge to shine – they could help other students by offering a “mini-workshop” on how to do certain things in iMovie.  You could organise to have 3-4 “iMovie Experts” who are available to answer questions from fellow students so that the teacher remains the facilitator and does not have to have all the answers and technical know-how of the programme.

Projects have layers – it’s important to understand that – it’s important to realise that some things will be taught “just-in-time” with project-based learning, other things will be deliberated planned and taught.  Being flexible is one of the reasons working with digital tools will succeed.  Taking risks with your own learning and going through the process you expect your students to go through will also help your project to be a successful one.