Last month, I visited the community of Kashechewan in my new role with Mushkegowuk Council. I had the opportunity to meet two amazing classes, one at Francine J. Wesley Secondary School, and the other at St. Andrew’s Elementary School. These students were natural mappers, problem solvers and critical thinkers as we learned some beginner coding with the Sphero SPRK+, and during a Geo Walk where we captured images of Kashechewan using tablets from the CreeGeo department. The aim of the day was to create a floor map, complete with streets and landmarks, and have Sphero navigate/roll around the community using the programs students built.
Click on the Adobe Spark Page below to take a tour of Kashechewan and see some of the students at work/play!
As part of a new online course at the ACCESS Centre here in Timmins, Ontario, I was asked to give two half-day workshops at the end of the month. The students will learn how to use the Ricoh Theta S camera along with the Google Street View app in order to take 360′ images at Gillies Lake. They will then upload these images into D2L’s ePortfolio app as part of their learning journey. Walk With Us Project will be lending eight 360′ cameras to support this unit. My presenter Slides are below:
Back in December 2016, my proposal to facilitate a 90-minute workshop at the International School of Brussels’ Learning by Design conference was accepted. And so began the presenter’s slideshow frenzy…
In preparation, I was asked to plan my workshop with the 4 conference themes in mind:
Engage. Connect. Innovate. Empower.
To me, these are not only themes – they are calls to action; particularly in my current role as an Educational Technology teacher, and certainly in any role in education.
ISB staff and students were heavily involved throughout the conference, and the LbD planning committee, staff and students must be commended on their delivery of a thoughtful, innovative and engaging conference for all attendees. Here is an article about the conference written by LbD student journalists, highlighting a few of the student projects presented on the last day of the conference.
The support I received as a presenter before, during and even after the conference was nothing short of impressive (special shout-out to the IT department for setting me up with Apple TV!). Each of the workshops, panel discussions and break-out groups were thought-provoking, and, more importantly, I had the opportunity to meet some really great people who I hope to keep in touch with for a long time.
Here are my workshop slides. Educators, you can read about some preliminary research about the mapping/storytelling platform, and try it out in your classroom. If you do, please connect with me!
As holidays approach and 2016 comes to an end, I thought I’d put together a few updates about Walk With Us and thank all WWU supporters for all of the encouragement, expertise, time, energy, and all around #edulove given to us this year.
While there was a focus on learning the different types of technology this year (360′ cameras, working with Google Maps and publishing panospheres to Street View, WalkInto tour building software, Twitter for our social media campaign and Google Classroom’s mobile app for communication purposes), 2017 will bring our Storytelling Series, where we will invite artists, writers, reporters, and other local and not so local storytellers to help inform our digital storytelling.
As part of ongoing efforts to spread the word about the #walkwithusproject, I had submitted a proposal to present at the Learning by Design conference at the International School of Brussels in Brussels, Belgium. I learned about it through my UBC MET program, and believed that the conference’s themes (engage, empower, connect, innovate) fit with the WWU vision.
Well, I received an email yesterday from the LbD Program Advisory Committee letting me know that my proposal was accepted! I’m excited because a) it will be the first time I formally present about Walk With Us, and b) it will be my first time in Europe.
I can’t wait!
These guiding questions were shared to help me with planning my session:
How do you envision the 90 minute workshop?
– In what ways are you going to connect to the LbD conference themes
(engage, empower, connect, innovate)?
– What instructional approaches are going to engage your audience?
– How do you plan to ensure that participants will be able to apply what they learned in your workshop?
I’m already drafting parts of my workshop in my head, using the above questions as well as information from part of my proposal:
I will post my workshop materials following my presentation. For more information about the Learning by Design conference, you can visit their website here!
More often than not, in my experience, the people I have reached out to in the world of education have reciprocated to the point where some pretty great things have happened. Transformative, even.
There was that time I cold-tweeted Dr. Leigh Zeitz of the University of Northern Iowa with a link to a research project I conducted. I had adapted and applied his work to a project for my school board about creating collaborative research projects with Google Apps for Education. This led to a Google Hangout where I had the opportunity to talk to someone I may never have had the opportunity to meet otherwise, and he even helped me narrow my focus for a research question I had been working on for one of my courses. I brought this knowledge back to my group, we applied his suggestions and it definitely paid off.
Whenever I have a question about Google Sheets (which is all the time), I tweet to Alice Keeler and she always responds. I’m sure she will tire of me eventually. I tweet to her about other things too.
And back when I was applying to UBC’s MET program, one of my visions was to develop a type of online platform to connect educators to artists. I was working with Virtual Researcher on Call at the time as a classroom teacher, and I asked my contact there if she knew of any such platform in existence. That’s when I first heard about the digital Human Library and Leigh Cassell. I contacted Leigh in September 2014, and long story short, I am now VP for dHL’s Board of Directors and a Library Curator for the site.
This is how things happen, my friends.
So how does using technology to collaborate with others lead to transformative learning?
Harvard University’s Dr. Chris Dede wrote a three-part series for Ontario school and system leaders participating in the Technology and Learning Fund (TLF). His first think piece is entitled “Technologies that Aid Learning Partnerships on Real-World, Authentic Tasks”. In it, he states that “modern digital tools and media now enable the use of deeper learning strategies in schools (Dede, 2014) including:
Connected learning encourages students to confront challenges and pursue opportunities that exist outside of their classrooms and campuses (Ito et al. 2013); and
Collaborative learning enables a team to combine its knowledge and skills in making sense of a complex phenomenon
When educators themselves model connected and collaborative learning practices, they show their students the importance of working together to exchange information and ideas, solve problems and extend the existing task beyond what it is to potentially create something new. This may have never occurred had they kept the learning confined to their own classrooms.
There are numerous video-conferencing platforms educators can choose from (Google Hangouts is a personal favourite, as we are a GAFE school board), and webcams are pretty standard these days, as are projectors – but where do they even start connecting with people?
I recently had the opportunity to collaborate with a wonderfully passionate educator named Sean Robinson. We connected via Leigh Cassell. He asked me to speak with a group of educators at Centennial Secondary School in Coquitlam, BC about my experiences using various services to help connect students to experts in various fields. Here they are:
I spoke about how I had used these websites in classrooms in order to help modify and certainly transform students’ learning experiences in various subject areas. You can read more about it on Sean’s blog here.
If you look at Dr. Ruben Puentedura’s “SAMR” model, a sort of measuring tool for educators to integrate technology into their classrooms, the ultimate goal is to not only enhance but transform student experiences so that it results in higher levels of achievement. This is done through “redefinition”: the technology actually allows for the creation of new tasks, previously inconceivable.
Here is an example of the SAMR model at work, using my experience with Mr. Cull’s Grade 5/6 classroom in Cobalt, ON and “Exploring by the Seat of your Pants”. Prior to the Google Hangout with adventurers Tarran and Ollie, who would soon kayak the Amazon River, the students thought of questions they would like to ask the pair:
During the Hangout, students had the opportunity to have a conversation with Tarran and Ollie, and would also follow their journey via their website. The students therefore had a stake in their own learning.
There was a follow-up Hangout upon completion of their epic journey, and the same class participated and was able to ask questions to extend their learning.
Here is what the task would look like in each stage of SAMR:
Substitution: Using Google Search to research the Amazon River Run, and Google Docs to type up a report / presentation.
Augmentation: Incorporate interactive multimedia – audio, video, hyperlinks – in the presentation to give more depth and provide a more engaging presentation.
Modification: Create a digital travel brochure for the Amazon River that incorporates multimedia and student created video.
Redefinition: Participate in a Google Hangout with the explorers, provide authentic interviews, follow their journey via the website and then follow up afterwards. Incorporate all artifacts into final product.
If you’ve made it this far, you are awesome.
If you would like to join a Connected Learning Partnership, please click here and get ready to expand your world!
“I like that we go to centers and have fun, and play together as friends.”
“I love that I have a lot of friends here, and we do a lot of activities. I like learning and reading here.”
“I like my teachers and my friends, and I like playing with blocks and Legos.”
“I like to make stuff with my bare hands.”
“I like when my Papa picks me up from school.”
“I like the Legos and the books. It’s fun to read books! I like to play with my teachers and friends too.”
These are just a sampling of the sweet, thoughtful and genuine interviews I conducted with several JK and SK students at the Northeastern Catholic District School Board these past couple of weeks.
Tuesday, January 26th was my Board’s JK Registration day. I was tasked with creating a multimedia presentation showcasing our Kindergarten students, and all of the amazing learning opportunities their teachers provide for them.
The common thread in the conversations with these students was the concept that learning is fun, and also that they love to create, play, and perhaps most importantly, they love their friends, family and teachers. It’s the people who surround them every day who have their best interests at heart, and to help them to realize their potential, who were at the forefront of their minds (and are, every day).
Here is a link to my presentation, and I hope I was able to capture the spirit of these students and the Kindergarten program itself.